Secondly, it has been strange knowing less people than I have fingers. Being from the booming metropolis of Jackson, and having lived there my whole life, I probably know at least several hundred and probably a thousand people. Going from knowing that many people to knowing so few has been very interesting. You know when someone who has lost a limb says they still get "ghost itches" in the place they are missing? I am not comparing my situation to an amputee's, but sometimes I sit at home and get this feeling I am supposed to be somewhere or supposed to go see someone.
Lastly, it has been one of the biggest challenges mentally that I have ever experienced. Before I delve deeper into this subject, let me explain a little bit about my program. As previously stated, I am living in Naples, FL. Yes, gorgeous, beautiful, get-away place of the stars, Naples, FL. And while it has unsurpassable beauty, this city, and the county in particular has some big problems. We have the richest of the rich, but we also have the poorest of the poor. My program got started by the richest of the rich to help the poorest of the poor.
About eight years ago, some wealthy benefactors wanted to raise money to support...something. So, they planned a wine festival. These people did not know how much money they were going to make, so they wanted to see how much they got and then decide what they were able to do with the money. They were expecting $100,000, maybe $250,000. They received $8 million!! "What are we going to do with all of this money?" they thought (#richpeopleproblems). They decided to do some surveys to find out what the greatest need in Collier County was. Surprisingly, the results pointed to children's dental care. Things began to fall into place. A college campus agreed to donate the land for the project, and our clinic was built.
This is where I go to work every day. Isn't it beautiful? The palm trees have filled in since this picture was taken and there are bushes along the front. Oh, and did I mention the clinic is in a resort? Yes, it is in a resort. It is Naples, after all. What did you expect?
You may ask, "Is it that easy to just start a pediatric dental residency?" Of course not! These wealthy benefactors thought of everything. How do we provide Collier county with dental care for the masses? One or two dentists is not going to cut it. They joined with University of Florida and expanded their pediatric dental residency. This Mississippi girl is now a Florida Gator.
What all do you learn in a pediatric dental residency? Can't kids just go to regular dentists? Of course kids can! I went to a general dentist my whole life. I went for my cleanings twice a year, got my prize from the treasure chest, and walked out the door. It was always a very positive experience for me. Not everyone's experience was like mine. We are seeing two to three kids a day that are 4 years old with a cavity on every tooth. It is just not realistic that a child would be able to come in to the office for 6 appointments where they are getting numbed up and hear all of these weird sounds and leave the office with a positive attitude towards dentistry. Our job is to learn when a child can handle having work in the chair with Nitrous Oxide gas, when they need a little bit of sedation, or when they need to be taken to the operating room for general anesthesia.
This very concept is what I have been hard at work learning over the past few months. They start us out with a heavy didactic load learning about behavior management, patients with special needs, and most of all, pediatric sedation. I can tell you, I have done my share of studying in my years of school; this is the hardest I have ever had to work in my life. This past Friday, I took my last exam, and I cannot tell you how ecstatic I am to be finished. Throughout my weeks of study, I tried to keep positive by telling myself, "I am so tired, but there is no other program I would rather be in." I know that if any bad situation would arise, I am fully capable of handling it. Let's just say, I am very grateful for the kick in the rear end. It will greatly benefit me and my future practice in the long run.
Right now, I am seeing about twelve patients a day, and they work us up to seeing twenty four patients. Next week, I will start taking cases into the operating room where we will fix all of their teeth in one visit. After I find out that I have passed my tests, I will begin sedating children in the office where I will be administering medications and doing their dental work while monitoring their airway and vital signs. I feel like we are surrounded by cavities, and we can't keep up. We are working on educating the parents to help reverse the masses of children with early childhood caries. It is a slow process, but I definitely feel like we are getting places.
Enough about school, let's talk about fun stuff! Here are a few snapshots from things we have done here in Naples. Sorry for the quality! Most were taken from my phone.
Matt and I went to the beach one night, and we saw some beautiful sights. It was crawling with sea creatures!
My first day of school was on Matt's birthday. I didn't get home til 8 that night. I felt terrible! What made matters worse was that we were so new to Naples that we had no idea where to go celebrate. We had only seen one restaurant besides a Cracker Barrel and a Waffle House. Not to say these are not fine establishments, but tonight was a special occasion. I had to treat my baby right at the local Cracklin' Jacks. It is basically a fried food joint as the name implies. I think Matt got a Swamp platter which had alligator, frog legs, and catfish. I was a little more tame and got the fisherman's platter with shrimp and catfish, all fried to perfection. As a bonus, they bring you out every side you could imagine: beans, collards, corn, mash taters, slaw... you name it. They bring it!
You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are gray. You'll never know, dear, how much I love you. Please don't take my sunshine away!
One night while I was washing dishes, Matt came out of the study with a fishing pole slung over one shoulder and said, "I'm going fishin'. You wanna come?" I am never going to turn down a nice sunset over the water, so I tagged along. This picture was in the lake in our gated community. There are very few places where you can walk out your front door and go fishing any time you want.
The sunsets here are breathtakingly beautiful. I feel so blessed that I am able to witness them.
Beach fireworks show for the 4th of July! All of Naples came out to see it. These pretty ladies are Maegan and Courtney. They are second years in my program. I am so thankful for all of the second years' kindness and encouragement over the past few months. They are an amazing group of people!
Each week we have a girls night. We were getting together to watch the last season of the Bachelorette, but now that it is over, it is just girl time. Sara, in the blue chair, and Lindsey in the blue shirt are in the program with me. Stephanie, in the gray shirt and Lory in the black and white dress are wives of the two guys that are also in my program. Stephanie is a nurse and training to become a nurse practitioner. Lory is physical therapist, so we have healthcare covered down here in Naples. I am so glad to have these special ladies in my life!
One night, Matt and I strolled down our fancy 5th Avenue. We stopped in this cute little store for some gelato! I think it was a butter pecan or something absolutely delicious. Is it the baby spoons that make gelato so good?
Matt has met a fishing buddy down here. Guess what his name is! You will never guess... it is Matt. And sometimes it scares me how similar they are. A few weeks ago they caught some redfish and grilled it up. Believe me, I do not take this next statement lightly: it was the BEST fish I have ever eaten! It was straight out of the ocean, grilled with lemon, lime, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Matt finished it with an herb oil using herbs from our garden. No joke! Best fish ever!
Our sweet little family of two has now become a family of three! (No, No, No, No, No babies yet)
We are happy to announce that we were finally able to adopt a puppy. She is 9 weeks old and a bottle of energy! She is lab/catahoula hound/australian shepherd mix and smart as a whip! After one week of having her, she has already learned how to sit, drop it, and go get it! I am just scared for the day she outsmarts us.
I know I am forgetting something to update you on, but for right now, I will call it a night. I have some sweet puppy dog eyes begging me to get off the computer.