This past weekend I took my daughter with me to a health fair. I volunteered to help out. There was a dental screening and the place was set up to be more of a community resource center than a health fair. There was another dentist present and the room was small so I decided to sit outside and explain to patients how to brush and floss instead. Because my daughter has never been to one, I decided to show her a part of my work outside the office. She could also serve as a translator for me for the Mandarin speaking population.
As we sat under the tent with the sun glaring on our right, she asked how does one really floss and brush properly. I handed her my flyer to read. She asked why I had to emphasize the obvious. I explained that not everyone has the advantage of having a dentist as a mother to show them how to floss and brush properly from the age of two. As she sat and listened to questions directed at me by different groups of people, she began to understand how even old adults don’t know dental basics, like brushing the tongue side of your teeth. Initially, she was shy about speaking Mandarin to an elderly couple. But when she saw their struggle with my explanation, she started to speak in a very soft and low volume. I think they were more surprise at her Mandarin than her actually trying to explain things to them. I don’t know what she said but I was proud that she tried to translate for them.
We sat for a couple of hours. She moved around and about to look at other booths. She loved the library booth as libraries are her favorite places. Not to mention, they were giving out mood pencils. The color on the pencil changes as you continue to hold it. She even asked for 2 extra ones for her brothers. She heard me explain the college process to a teenager whose mom has never gone to college. I also explained how different professions operate in healthcare. My daughter said, “I thought you were a dentist.” I am. But since I know what that process is like, why not share and try to get the teenager to think beyond her boundaries. Then she asked if I knew the teenager. I didn’t. I was just aiming to expand her vision for her future. As my daughter listened and observed throughout the day; she appreciated my work more. “You help a lot of people”. I didn’t think so. I can explain things in a way that makes it easier to understand, be it dentistry or college. Not to mention, I’m all for girls going to college and empowerment. When she helped me cleanup to go home, she said, “I like doing things with you.” That made my day.
This week she earned a prize for completing a song in music class. She picked out a Transformer toy she knew her younger brother would enjoy. She brought it to him and told him he needs to be nice in school and listens well in order to open it this weekend. She told me she did that to encourage him to think about his future. He has been behaving badly in class recently. She wanted to help him get back on his path for advancement. My heart melted. Mission: Accomplished (for now).
Recently, I received a hand written note from the “Tooth Fairy”. Apparently, she visited the little girl I took 2 teeth out of. During the appointment, my little patient was so nervous, I tried to be funny and only got a chuckle out of her. When it was all over, she asked if I was done because I told her I only needed a minute and the minute was over. Evidently, she counted to 60 in her head. That would explain why she didn’t laugh at my jokes. She wasn’t paying attention! So she came back with a present from the Tooth Fairy. It was a note with a green marble taped to it. On the other side of the note, there was a coupon for a 3 minute hug from the patient. It was so adorable. It made my day as I redeemed my coupon immediately.
Then just a few days ago, a letter came addressed to me. It was a sorry note from a patient who slammed the door on his way out. He wrote, “I’m sorry for slamming the door…It’s not who I am. I hope you could see who I really am…” in one of the hardest to read handwriting I’ve ever seen. It took a couple of minutes to read the few lines. The patient has moderate autism and was trying his best to show his remorse on a piece of paper. It warmed my heart. So when he came in for his appointment, I thanked him for his sweet words. He replied, “My dad made me write that letter. I didn’t want to write a letter but I am sorry for slamming the door. I was mad at myself. I just want to tell you I am sorry in person.” By the end of his appointment, he said,” Thank you for working on me. I want you to be my dentist.” That was even better than the letter.
Today, a patient called to say he was doing fine after he had undergone some cosmetic work yesterday. He couldn’t believe how nice I was after he yelled at my team just the week before. He was even more appreciative of the fact that I listened to his complaints about non-dentally related issues “without bias or judgment.” I explained that sometimes when a patient is antagonistic, it’s normally not because of us or what is being discussed. It’s usually independent of both. We try to give each person a benefit of a doubt. However, he was on his last “benefit” with us. He called me his “angel” as our conversation calmed him down. Admittedly, he was on the verge of “losing it” on a matter that was not dentally related. Just to have someone listen as he was talking was enough to sustain an impact. It made him listen to his own thoughts, which turned out to be not as bad as it seemed. I know… being called an angel could totally go to my head. But the irony of this is that he believes dentists are “sadistic”.
It’s funny how gratitude comes in many forms. Don’t overlook yours. Just being courteous to a contentious person can change a bad attitude on so many different levels. Imagine being nice and not reacting to every distasteful incident. You, too, could be someone’s angel for that one moment. (Did I not say this could go to my head?)
I don’t think I’ve ever been more proud of my gender than I was this past Saturday. Millions of women joined forces to march and show solidarity for our rights and equality, both of which are under seized by the Trump administration. Whether you are a Hillary supporter or not, women’s rights is a humanity issue. It is not a political issue. You can tell me how much taxes I need to pay annually, where to send my children for public education, rules and regulations I need to follow for traffic, government support, etc. But you cannot tell me how to use my body, grab me by the “kitten” because you’re famous, or even straight up lie to me because you want to look good. To paraphrase a sign I saw…I can’t believe I have to protest this sh*t in 2017!
It is not about political parties. It is about women’s rights and fair treatment of everyone. Everyone.
As we prepare for our Christmas break, we would like to thank everyone for another year of your continual support and allowing us to be your dental health care providers. It is always a privilege. We know there are plenty of options for dental care and we are grateful to be yours. This year we have new team members to help us expand our services to a wider range of communities. Dr. James Lin and his assistants are professionals who share our same values and beliefs. He is a Bay Area native. He is also a lot nicer than I, just not as funny. So as we step forward into 2017, we look forward to working with Dr. Lin and his team. We hope you will get to meet him at your next appointment.
This year we all had dinner at a Brazilian steak house in downtown San Jose. We all walked out 3 pounds heavier too. I forget how nice downtown is in the winter. The lights around the trees, Christmas In The Park, mini carnival set ups, multi-lighted cars driving around to entertain people, happy groups of people, etc. I am thankful to live in an area that celebrates the holiday season with different cultural groups. Diversity has always been a part of San Jose. It is one of the reasons that makes San Jose so great. My little Grinch heart grew a few sizes bigger. I was proud of the city I grew up in. What was small is now big. Time has modernized my childhood memories.
Have a great holiday season. If you are looking for things to do, go visit downtown. There are plenty to do. Remember to look both ways before crossing the road as the police is waiting to lecture you about jaywalking. Enjoy. Don’t forget to floss. Jessica’s bunny ears
Dr. James Lin
Tara, Sayali and Dr. LinThe Grinch and happy Elves. A patient called me the Grinch because I didn’t want to listen to Christmas music all day long at the office. I say it’s because I represent people who may not be so “merry” during the holiday. This season could be one of the most depressing season of the year for a lot of people. I didn’t want to put further pressure on them to be happy. But Jessica’s cheerfulness was a little contagious as she sings along with the songs. It was cute to hear her sing when she thought no one was listening. However, it was met with, “Really? I already have to listen to the radio, I have to listen to you, too?” Then she went back to humming. The ultimate cuteness came when I heard, “Hal…lelujah, Hallelujah!…” coming from the front desk. That was met with only a laugh and a huge smile. No one can be anything but happy with that. So Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.
This Thanksgiving I am counting my blessings. From my families to my office and the friends that I keep. I am humbled daily. I am a person filled with gratitude. But this November has been very difficult for almost everyone around me, myself included. This month’s upset results of the election, the pressure to be merry because of the holiday season, and the financial stress that most people feel, make it hard to be “happy”. Not to mention, some hearts were broken and my lip got a lopsided injection from my son’s head. Within two weeks, I had five patients with fractured teeth. It’s that time of the year when I’m doing more “witchcraft” than any other season. (I was at a seminar and the speaker considered root canal therapy to be witchcraft. It then became a joke amongst dentists.)
Even as our president was giving a speech about the sun shining again after Hillary’s loss, Joe Biden was looking upward for the sun. It’s hard to find that silver lining. Canadian website for residency crashed after the U.S. election. But since they need healthcare providers, I was told I had a good chance of getting in almost immediately. I guess that could be good news for me. But I have no interest in moving north. I hear their winters get below zero Fahrenheit. I get cold at 60 degrees ergo, that’s not a viable option for me. I can only stand the cold temporarily. Freezing to death is not appealing. Maybe I need to research more on hypothermia.
I’ve always thought to be kind to my fellow human beings. We’re supposed to help one another. Every year I volunteer or give to charity. And every year I get something back in one form or another. We had a sedation patient getting ready to go home. We were giving his mom instructions on how to take care of him. Then suddenly behind me, came a groggy voice, “See, I told you they like me here.” We all turned to the patient and in an echo, my whole office replied, “Of course.” Truly, he is a nice person, just misunderstood. We gave him time and space to get to know and respond to us. Sometimes he is not responsive. But that was the effects of his medications, not him. I think people forget their human courtesy to each other. Maybe they just need one person to extend it to them first.
This month, I witnessed young love. It’s amazing to see how eyes can communicate so passionately. Unfortunately, I think I was standing in the middle of them. A patient gave birth to her baby boy. Another patient completed his cancer therapy. This weekend, one will get married. So much more happiness than sadness. Today, I will be focusing on my blessings. I hope you will enjoy yours. Thank you for giving me plenty of stories to be happy about. Have a great Thanksgiving break with your families and friends.