Reading-filled vacation

This week of spring break has flown by. I want more vacation!

What did I do over break? Let’s see:

  • Worked at the dental urgent at school for four of the six days they were open
  • Read a book on my Kindle
  • Took a nap
  • Went out to eat
  • Drove to the airport, church, errands, more church
  • Did special music at above said church
  • Started clicker training with our dog
  • Read another book
  • Took another nap
  • Watched the whole series of BBC’s nature movies, Life
  • Did some shopping
  • Played video games
  • Kept reading books
  • Did more napping

So, there’s definitely a recurring theme here: reading (and napping, ha). My word, I love reading. I’m open to reading just about any type of genre but I do tend to continually go back novels. Suspense, sci-fi, action, fantasy–you name it, I’ll read it.

Thus far, it’s been mildly dangerous owning a Kindle. How so? A credit card is attached to your Kindle/Amazon account. When you go browsing through books and want one, it’s very easy and painless to click “buy” in order to have instant reading gratification. Now, even though I’ve scoured the internets and Amazon for tons free books, I find myself browsing their titles for sale…and, on rare occasion, even downloading one.

Or two.

Okay, three.

Ah, reading. You know, I used to read so much as a kid. When I was done reading for the time being, I would hide my books all over the house by shoving them under pillows, between couch cushions, below tables. This drove my mom nuts. How did she mete our her punishment? By grounding me from reading books for a week at a time.

Thank goodness for books and that my love for reading is still strong.

Except when it comes to textbooks. Nothing can put me to sleep faster than reading a heavily information-laden tome like periodontics, ugh.

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A list of sorts

Christmas vacation is three-fourths over. I’m trying to remember exactly how it’s flown by so fast. What exactly have I done?

  1. Bought Christmas presents, wrapped them
  2. Put away my mess that was covering half the dining table from stuff I’ve gathered and kept from this quarter
  3. Practiced some music for a Christmas program
  4. Performed in the majority of musical numbers at thus said Christmas program
  5. Stayed home in the rain, curled up under a blanket and read a book
  6. Read more books
  7. Kept reading books
  8. Took a nap
  9. Went to the Sing-Off finale at Warner Bros. Studios (!)
  10. Watched a movie
  11. Watched more movies
  12. Listened to the rain falling
  13. Took a nap
  14. Read more books
  15. Heard about the locally infamous Loma Linda floodings and mudslides, mud rivers, streets filled with mud
  16. Drove around the next day to look at all the mud, got our car really muddy
  17. Oogled at mounds of mud, kept wondering if we were really in Loma Linda
  18. Went for a hike, saw the landslides/mudslides that happened in all the hills to give rise to all the above said mud found in Loma Linda
  19. Went to church on Christmas day, helped sing some songs up on stage
  20. Went for long walks with my boyfriend (aka husband) and the dog
  21. Cooked up a few dishes for Christmas dinner
  22. Opened presents
  23. Oogled over presents, played with presents, felt blessed to be even getting presents
  24. Saw a movie in the theater
  25. Yes, it was Tron and I am now in love with the soundtrack artists all over again
  26. Attempted to brave the day-after-Christmas hordes at the mall and, after quailing in fear, turned away
  27. Attended and performed in a memorial service for a dear church member
  28. Went on a date with my boyfriend
  29. Went and had sushi with a friend
  30. Read more books
  31. Took a nap
  32. Played video and computer games
  33. Slept
  34. Watched some movies
  35. Took another nap

I think you get the picture now. As I mentioned to a friend, I’m enjoying my vacation and that the fact my IQ is getting knocked down a few notches.

It’s lovely!

Now here I am, typing away while in bed, listening to the boyfriend and the dog sleeping away in dreamland, listening to the wind wail through the tree outside. Hopefully there won’t be any more rain for a while down here…but I will honestly pray for more snow in the mountains.

Why so? So I can have a little powder for snowboarding, of course!

Stuck in the fast lane

Where the heck have I been, huh? Maybe traveling the world on an opulent cruising vessel? On a safari in Africa helping photograph the most rare and close-to-extinct species that are left? Stuck in a secret lab five miles beneath the earth’s surface in order to study cancer cells and find the ultimate cure?

Sadly, no.

I’m sorry to say I’ve done nothing exciting, adventurous, or as contributing to our species as above.

Rather, I’ve been very much stuck in school.

(Uh, boring!)

Last quarter was crazy. Trying to get used to the clinic was a whole new experience for me. Now, I like the dental part of dentistry: the attention to details, the possible perfection, the precise hand skills that I’ve always wanted to showcase. On the other hand, it didn’t really hit me that dental school consists of so much more once you look past a person’s teeth. For each and every patient, I am many more things than just a dentist to them. I play all roles, including: secretary, office manager, dental assistant, dental hygienist, financial adviser, insurance coordinator, lab technician, and even personal therapist.

All I can say is that these many roles have left me with one thing: drained.

This quarter has been stressful as well. I’m also discovering the true extent of my stress these days. When I think about the kinds of topics that have generally been on my mind, I’ve realized that it mostly has to do with school and patients–and that I’ve been letting it stress me out much more than I should.

Let’s take a vacation! Or maybe I can just get a massage, anyone?

On a daily basis?

Hourly?

….No? Well, I thought I’d try.

— — —

Today I experienced something new: I’ve finally extracted my first set of teeth on a patient! Two different teeth, actually. And teeth that were in the more difficult side of the mouth for me (the upper left). Now, I can’t take all the credit–the dentist in charge of the urgent care clinic was nice enough to help me out with some parts. Otherwise, I actually did most of it. (!)

I would say that the worst part for the patient was the anesthesia administration. Don’t get me wrong, I got her quite numb (very, actually) but, of course, there were a few winces along the way. (I’m still working on completely painless anesthesia.) After laying a flap with a surgical blade and cutting away some bone in front of one tooth and splitting another into pieces with a drill, I used elevators and hardly any forceps to extract the remaining parts of her teeth. The instructor then followed up and did two sutures for me that I wanted to see done.

(On a side note, in instances like this, I am amazed at how well local anesthesia works. Sure, the little needle prick sucks, but there is SO MUCH that can be done for the benefit of patient once they get to the point where they can’t feel anything. I mean, I essentially sliced open this patient’s gums and peeled them back so I was looking at her jaw bone. Amazing! Dentistry has come such a long way ever since the discovery nitrous oxide and local anesthesia.)

Considering that I have never extracted a tooth before, I was pleasantly surprised at the experience. I was quite lost for a while, but once someone got me going, I was okay. I guess what has bothered me the most about not having any oral surgery experience is that you can’t prepare for the feeling of extracting a tooth without actually doing it. Before pushing the blade down the side of the tooth to the point where it contacted bone and released attachment ligaments, I hadn’t the slightest idea of what it would feel like, of what tactile sensations I would be experiencing that would tell me whether I was doing it right or not. When I was pushing the elevator down the root surface and gently yet forcefully rotating the instrument between the tooth and the bone, I didn’t know what kind of feedback my hands were supposed to be receiving.

Thankfully, some sort of gut instinct kicked in and I did everything right.

Phew!

Technically, after using elevators to inch your way down the tooth by severing attachments and expanding bone, a person usually reaches for the forceps and starts pushing (aka “pulling”) the tooth out. I probably could have reached for forceps much sooner but ended up getting all the teeth and roots very much loose with only the use of the elevator.

All I can say is: fabulous–there is hope for me with getting through oral surgery procedures after all.

— — —

After another extremely busy day filled with lack of sleep and food, I’m back home, lying on the couch, exhausted. I do not want to go back to school to practice for mock board exams tomorrow, I do not want to study. All I want to do is curl up, watch a movie, and pet the dog.

Sounds good to me.

The Never-Ending Story

Do you remember that movie? To be honest, I don’t remember much about it specifically other than that there was a young boy, some sort of flying and friendly dragon was involved, and that I enjoyed watching it. I was watching the trailer for it some time ago and was immediately struck by how far the film industry has come since then.

I don’t know if I ever saw the sequel to it, but I do know that Jonathan Brandis was the main character in the second movie. Oh, dearest Jonathan Brandis. I had the largest pre-teen crush on him. When the television show SeaQuest DSV came out, I was quite the regular fan, faithfully watching each week to get a glimpse of his character, Lucas, to hear his voice.

Essentially, I drooled over the guy.

Oh dear, I’m blushing in mild embarrassment at this revelation.

As I grew up and got over his teen idol status, I still kept an eye out for him in film and television. It’s a complete shame he hung himself in 2003 at the age of 27.

— — —

Getting away from this morbid subject, what I originally meant to write about was school. School, school, school: the never-ending story of my life. Now, in juxtaposition to the previous topic, it sure as heck seems inappropriate to go unendingly on and on about the doldrums of my life.

Thus said, I’ll just sum up my current thoughts regarding academia: I have my last exam tomorrow, then I’m going out to have some sushi and maybe even a massage later on. I’m thrilled.

Goodnight.

Standing, standing

Some days seems really long while others are on the short side. Today was actually okay, but the tipping point that made it feel long is that my legs are aching right now.

Did you ever have deep, slow aching pains in your legs, sometimes arms and elsewhere when younger? My parents always called them “growing pains”, something about attributing the aches to growing bones and muscles. Whether growth during my younger and adolescent years actually played a role in those aches or not, who really knows.

On the other hand, I still get those same deep aches at my current age which isn’t quite as young as before. It’s always a gnawing kind of pain, usually in my legs, that slowly gets worse and never seems to get better for roughly around six hours. If I don’t get around to taking some sort of analgesic like Tylenol or Ibuprofen, it’s always bad enough to keep me up in the middle of the night. If I somehow manage to fall asleep, it always is a restless sleep and, more likely than not, I wake back up again with an even stronger and dull ache.

In high school, I started noticing that these leg pains would appear after standing or walking for long periods of time. Case in point? Being at Disneyland all day long. I eventually learned to be proactive and carry a couple of pills with me during Disney trips (we had annual passes a lot back then) to take during the afternoon. When I started working as a radiologic technologist, there were many days filled with running around and essentially standing most or all of the day. After a while, my legs would get used to all the standing and walking, but some days just did me in and I’d have to pop a pain pill or two.

Since my x-ray days are over and I haven’t had many long days filled with standing after that, this quarter of getting slammed on clinic has did me in a few times at night with these leg pains. Today, I do believe I was standing, standing, standing just about through the entire afternoon, about four and a half hours straight. Boys howdy, do my legs ache now. I just took a 220 mg pill of Aleve not too long ago, an NSAID similar to Ibuprofen. Thankfully it’s starting to kick in and my legs are feeling better already.

Sleep! I am coming. There will soon be no more aching to hold you at bay.

Friday’s Meanderings: easily sidetracked

During the first year of dental school, midterm exams for all our classes all fell during the same week. It was absolute torture, mostly: you finish taking one exam only to go to the next one; and then repeat for the rest of the week. After a whole year of this madness, you kind of end up used to it. Sure, it’s horrible, but at least they’re all done in one big shot.

When our second year rolled around, our test schedule was eventually switched up. What’s different is that midterm exams are spread out over two, sometimes three weeks. In a way, it’s been nice not having to lose sleep and cram, cram, cram for a slew of tests in a row. On the other hand, especially now since our classes aren’t as time-consumingly science heavy like before, the primary downfall is that I end up relaxing. Relaxing too much. I’m caught off guard during the period of midterms easily: I always rationalize myself into thinking that they’re be time later to study.

The past three weeks or so have been our midterm exam weeks. Because there’s been so much time between tests, I’ve been finding myself watching a lot of movies, reading books, and even getting into some crafting.

What kind of crafting?

Well, cross stitching, apparently.

robots in love, pt.4

knit fast, pt.1

Yes, I cranked the majority of these puppies out rather fast. I’m thinking my subconscious was telling me to do something, anything other than studying. In short, I’m trying to say that was easily side tracked.

But at least I ended up with some products to show for my efforts!

The robot panel is for some friends that obviously got married. As for the knitting one, I remember seeing the phrase cross stitched somewhere, loved it, and just had to make my own version of it.

— — —

Lastly, another obligatory photo of our dog, this time of her wishing with all her heart/eyes to have me give her the go so she can eat the piece of chicken balancing on her nose:

it's in her eyes...

That’s what I would call a display of extreme longing.

Marching along

I’ve been rather MIA this month, I see. The past three-plus weeks have been filled with late nights of working in the lab, working of patients’ charts, writing lists of what I’m supposed to be doing on clinic and trying to semi-memorize them so I (hopefully) sort of look like I know what I’m doing, studying for exams, and on and on. In the midst of it all, I haven’t forgotten about my forlorn little blog; rather, I’ve been thinking a lot about it but am consistently without the time to actually add to it.

There’s less of an academic workload for this quarter but much more patient interaction than before, than ever, really. I’m a natural introvert who recharges when I have some time alone. On the other hand, I do enjoy working with people as patients but it definitely is a draining experience for my introvert core, especially at the start of this steep learning curve on clinic. All this patient interaction is a wonderful learning experience, yet I’m left craving sleep and becoming more even more exhausted the following day.

I remember my first day of clinicals when I was going to school for medical radiography. I was thrown into the ER with two other classmates. The first case of the day that I helped out with? A dislocated hip from a snowboarding incident that occurred the night before. Poor guy was groaning; everything we did hurt and legitimately so. Thus was the start of one of the busiest 8-hour shifts the technologists said they had ever had in the ER.

When I got home at about 4 pm, I fell asleep on the couch soon after with a TV blaring beside my head (someone else was watching) and was completely dead to the world for a couple of hours. I was so drained from mentally trying to navigate such a new situation that dealt with people interaction, one that is not natural to me, that it took a physical toll on my body.

Ever since that first experience of taking care of patients, being responsible for someone else’s well-being, interacting someone who could be nice or yelling at you or saying you’re cute and asking for your number, I’ve realized that I’ll always hit this huge wall of adapting to deal with people in new experiences. All I can do is keep moving, keep showing up, keep trying, because I know that everything will even out and that I’ll regain my sanity and restful nights back sooner or later.

I just need to keep marching along, along.

lessons by teeth: Golden Dust

I figure that since I’m in the dental field, there’s something my profession can teach me. Here’s a little thought, serious or not, of what I’ve learned from teeth.

— — —

I have gold dust in my hair.

It’s all over my hands, skin, on my face. My clothing is dusted with it. It’s in my nose, probably my eyes, and most definitely in my lungs. I’m trying not to think about it.

gold FPD project

gold FPD project

Making gold crowns for teeth–specifically, a gold bridge in this instance–is a case study in patience and perseverance. It’s an amazingly long and drawn out process that demands the complete marriage of artistry and precision to reach a final product that is worth being proud of. Lately, my perseverance has been wearing thin: three late, oh-so-late nights in the lab in a row can do that to a person. I’m doing my best to be patient with this project, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult as I find myself more and more exhausted during following days.

A few nights ago, as the terminology goes, I cast the gold bridge as two separate pieces, let them cool on the desk for a few minutes, and eventually dropped them in cold water. In anticipation, I carefully broke the stone mold that encased my gold work. After using a sandblaster to take off the remaining grit of stubborn stone, I finally had a chance to see the artistry of my waxed model turned into gold.

gold FPD project

I was thrilled with the first piece; it fit the prepared teeth exactly and had a smooth surface for easy polishing. As for the other, something went wrong and it was covered on the outside with an unbelievable number of little bumps, so much so that it looked like a hereditary disorder of sorts.

gold FPD project

By this time, it was already past 10 in the evening. Truly, I didn’t want to deal with all those bumps. I wanted to go home, home, home. I wanted to relax, sleep. Nonetheless, I eventually turned off my needs and decided to stay in the lab and persevere: I wanted to get rid of all those ugly bumps that turned the original sleek and waxed surface into a disfigured monster of gold. I pulled out a hand piece drill, attached a cutting bur, and starting smoothing away the bumps bit by bit.

As I was cutting, the air in front of me started to become hazy–gold dust was everywhere. Even though I was wearing protective lenses and a mask, there were still plenty of surfaces on my person for the dust to come rest on. I became dusted with gold. It might have been an annoyance and even a potential problem for my health if I breathed in gold dust regularly. Instead, I considered it as just a hazard of the job, that it was something I wouldn’t have to do in the same quantity once I start working in a private practice.

gold FPD project

gold FPD project

In the end, my patience paid off and I actually finished the project on time. I trimmed off areas where there was too much gold, I carved in secondary anatomy with a bur, and spent a ridiculous amount of time polishing and polishing until the gold shone with a lovely, crisp and clear color. Even though I lost a lot of sleep over this project, I felt a sort of maternal pride for my work when all was said and done. Oddly, it was gratifying to have finally come to an end.

gold FPD project

gold FPD project

Lesson learned: Always pull through and persevere, have patience in all you put your heart and soul into. No matter the struggles, the relief and joy that comes at the end is worth aspiring for.

Friday’s meanderings: happenings & random photos

Fridays are meant for taking naps.

— — —

The time for getting thrown onto clinic, whether you’re ready or not, has finally arrived. This week, I’ve seen patients during three out of the five days of the school week and am exhausted. I remember when in the very beginning of my previous career as a radiographic technologist, I would come home bonked after 8+ hours of working. There’s just something about dealing with others as patients and essentially faking that you know what you’re doing until you get comfortable that’s absolutely draining. I usually am a bit of a night owl and don’t crawl into bed until past midnight; these days it’s been around 10 pm.

I can’t wait until this phase of constantly being freaked out is over. It’ll be nice to have the energy to do normal things again, such as actually washing the dishes on a regular basis.

Thank goodness I can nap on Friday afternoons to catch up on sleep.

— — —

I believe I had previously said that we finally realized our water heater tank had been leaking for a long time. Knowing that it’s rotted out the bottom of the local cabinets, Andrew got ambitious and tore up the two layers of linoleum in that part of our kitchen to see how far the water damage had gone in the floor. Well now, by that point, he might as well rip out of the rest of the cabinets, right?

water heater demolition, pt.1water heater demolition, pt.2

water heater demolition, pt.3water heater demolition, pt.4

Huh.

Thankfully, oh so thankfully, the new tankless water heater is in, and boy, do we have blazing hot water in the shower. In the meantime, you can still see the studs and original floor under the ripped-out linoleum in that section of the kitchen.

Oh, and also the trash pile that is starting to collect on our driveway.

water heater demolition, pt.5water heater demolition, pt.6

I’ve never lived before in a house that had regular phases of construction and renovation. It takes some getting used to even though you never really get used to it.

Alas, but I think but this style of living will be continuing on: we may be installing a new dishwasher sometime soon.

Huh.

— — —

In other news, I’ve been enjoying my baggu duck bag recently.

baggu duck bag

Also, we’ve been to the beach. Andrew went kiteboarding

kiteboarding

and I had the chance to watch a wedding occur on the same (and somewhat ugly) beach.

beach wedding

(I suppose if you’re on a budget, then…you’re on a budget!)

Lastly, with all this heat that’s been going on lately, I’ve been using my denture-shaped ice “cubes” a lot more than usual.

denture ice cubes

denture ice cubes

Goodness, I’m such a nerd.

— — —

Here’s to a good weekend.