Lab work. Specifically, dental lab work. It’s kind of like the “half empty/half full glass” concept and that I can’t make up my mind about it: at times, I don’t (sort of) mind going into the lab for hours to work on something small and make it to perfection; other times, it drives me nutty.
The latter is especially the case when nothing seems to go right.
Let me talk about lab work first. As just about any high school student knows, the word “lab” usual conjures up images of biology and chemistry labs with tubing, bunsen burners, thermometers, measurements, formaldehyde-preserved creatures, cutting instruments, etc. For a college/university student, it’s all the same as before but much more complicated and with the dreaded lab write-up.
Horrific. I dreaded lab write-ups. I used to write pages upon pages of lab reports. It always started off with doing an average job on the first one but getting seriously docked on the score for my supposed half-assed job. I’d get so ticked off that I ended up torturing myself by writing reports so complete and redundant (in a well-written way, of course) that I would receive excellent scores from then on.
Thus was my relief when I entered dental school: no more lab write-ups! I just get to work with my hands! Create things! Have the chance to be a perfectionist! Playing with “toys” that cut things! Enjoy making details!
Until I realized how long lab projects took to do. And that there were deadlines. The former really wouldn’t be a factor except for the latter. Of course.
Today I spent 4 and half hours in lab.
I cut out a plastic surgical template from an edentulous Snapstone cast with my acrylic burs and smoothed the cut edges with an awesome hand torch that can burn your fingers if you’re not paying attention. I festooned the wax for a mandibular removable partial denture (RPD) that covers teeth numbers 18-20 and 30-31 and, if I must say so myself, it looks pretty doggone hot for my first time ever. I placed a right maxillary first molar for the RPD’s opposing immediate complete denture (ICD). I have a mostly waxed left occlusal rim done for the said ICD. Then I switched projects and finished trimming the preparations for teeth number 9 and 11 from my DieKeen stone cast. I placed the die spacer on tooth number 9 of the same project. And other various things.
Writing all this makes me laugh. Am I speaking another language or what?
With lab work, there are always deadlines, deadlines. And the fact that I get to be the dental lab for all the patients I’ll be seeing on the clinic. Which is quite different from how it works in a real practice where the dentist takes a couple of records and sends it off to a lab for them to deal with all the hours and hours of hopefully perfectionist work that will be returned back to you in a few days while, in the meantime, you’ve been restfully waiting with relaxed hands and sipping iced teas on a sun-shaded hammock at a beach.
No; no, I’m not bitter at all. Really.
On the other hand, I love having the chance to be detailed and make things to perfection, mostly for my own fulfillment (and that of my professors). Even if the patient isn’t as interested as I am in what wonderful dental works of art that I create and all the time and effort that goes into them, I know I can be proud of what I do and be thankful that lab work truly does interest me.
For a general pessimist like myself, this means I actually consider the glass as half-full more often than not. An accomplishment in and of itself, I’d say.