Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Summer 2010

Another summer has gone by quickly! It has definitely been a summer of fun and change! I have been staying local with work so I’ve been able to be home every night which has been amazing. Means more time to spend with my family, friends, and boyfriend. We are staying with 60 miles of Portland so I just commute every day. The commuting part I am not a huge fan of but being in my own house and bed every night is nice. I do miss having somebody to clean my room and make my bed every day! You get spoiled living in hotel rooms and then you come home and have to do everything for yourself again! Geesh why don’t the maids just come home with me!!! I haven’t gone on too many trips this summer. I’m saving up my vacation time for Hawaii this November! Been over to eastern Oregon a few times and the coast and central Oregon. I guess the only area I haven’t been is southern Oregon. Hopefully by this fall I’ll make it down there for a weekend to visit friends. Work has been amazing this summer. The dentist has been a great fit. She is such a pleasure to be around. She is pregnant and due in October so she won’t be around much longer but it has been nice to not be the only girl for a while. James is outnumbered now and has to listen to girl talk which he loves of course! All the kids that we have been treating this summer are Hispanic kids and they are adorable. They don’t speak much English and are super shy so I haven’t had any funny quotes all summer but they are so sweet. We treated a little 4 yr old boy last week that was super ticklish. Every time you touched him he would start cracking up and he was adorable. I wanted to bring him home with me! We started tickling him just for fun because he was so cute. He was probably my favorite patient this summer. We have been seeing some horrible teeth! When every single tooth has decay you know you have a problem! A lot of patients we have been able to treat 3 or more times and get all of their teeth fixed which is always a huge sense of accomplishment. We usually work on one quadrant and sometimes two at a time depending on how much work they have to have done and how severe it is. Unfortunately we have had to extract quite a few permanent teeth this summer. It’s never fun when you have to pull a kids permanent tooth because there is no way to save them. We try to save as many teeth as possible! Although I do love extractions I never like doing it on permanent molars. One exciting thing that happened this summer is that I had a kid maliciously spit in my face! Not a good idea! Let’s just say Weston did not stand for that! That kid will definitely not being doing that to anyone again! So far since I have started working on the tooth taxi have been puked on, peed on, spit on, and had my fingers bit. And for some reason I still love my job…don’t know why! The middle of September we go back on the road starting in north eastern Oregon and working our way back to Portland for the winter! I’m actually dreading going back on the road. I have gotten so used to being in Portland and seeing everyone on a regular basis that it’s going to be hard to go back to only being home on the weekends. But it’s only for two months and then I’m home for over a month! And I have Hawaii to look forward to and seeing everyone there! Well I must go pack because I’m heading to Bend in central Oregon this weekend! Miss everyone and hope you are enjoying your summer as much as I am! :)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Well I know it’s been a long time since I have updated my blog and I’m sorry!! Life has been so busy and crazy. Since I last updated I become a year older and at times wiser haha. I had an amazingly relaxing birthday! I got to spend the weekend in eastern Oregon with friends and then my birthday with my family! It was a great way to start a new year! I’ve hardly been home the past few months. I’ve been gone during the week and weekend. I truly do live 99% of my life out of a suitcase. In the past three and a half months just for work I have traveled over 7,000 miles! Craziness spending that much time in a vehicle! Good thing I love my job! Work has been going great and unfortunately seeing kids with teeth rotting out and black with decay on a daily basis has become a reality. You think that when parents saw huge abscesses in their kids’ mouths and all of their teeth black with decay and no occlusal surfaces would raise a red flag but no. The things that we see are unfortunate and unreal! Makes my job worthwhile knowing that we truly make a difference. Since I last updated this we have traveled to: Port Orford, Portland, Prineville, Portland, Maupin, Oakridge, Newberg, Gilchrist, Frenchglen, Drewsey, Fields, Lakeview, and Burns. From January to March we provided simple treatment to 262 kids in the van, provided preventive services to 2,645, and restorative services (pulps, crowns, extractions, fillings) to 597. Total value of services provided was $200,000. So as you can see it was a very busy and successful three months. I have traveled to some beautiful and fun places. The kids have been so great to work with. Every day is truly a new adventure! You never know what they are going to say and do. Kids say the funniest things and keep us laughing all day. I have been working for over 3 months now and I still love it and the traveling has become a reality of life. I realized that in less than a year I’ve gone from being the maid to having a maid! Haha! It’s kind of nice to have fresh towels and a made bed every day. :) One of the advantages of the job is the wildlife and scenery that we get to see on our long road trips every week. Over the next 4 weeks I’m not going to step foot in my house at all! It’s going to be a long haul but so much fun! Spending the weeks working out of town and the weekends out of town in eastern Oregon camping and backpacking! This week has been amazing I’m in central southern Oregon and the wildlife is outstanding! We have seen tons of different birds, antelope, dear, wild horses, beavers, nutria, jackrabbits, and even a cotton tail bunny! The scenery has been insane too! And the smell of sage brush everywhere! I love the smell of sage! Nothing can beat it! I have also been indulging my love of photography! I will post pictures soon! It’s great to see thousands of miles uninhabited. We stayed in an old historic hotel this week. It is the only hotel in the town we were in. There were 8 rooms and shared bathrooms. One mens and one womens. Quite the experience! haha. The town had a one room school house and one teacher for K-8. Talk about going back to the old west! There was nothing in the town at all! A few houses, the school, and the small hotel and that was it! No store, gas station, restaurant or anything! No connection to the outside world at all and I loved it! Frenchglen was a fun place to be! Other than work I’ve just been busy visiting friends and spending time with family! It’s been great strengthening my relationships with those close to me. I don’t know if I say enough how lucky and grateful I am for my amazing family and friends! It makes me excited for the summer! Since I will be working in town more this summer I’ll have more of an opportunity to spend time with friends and get to spend my weekends enjoying the beautiful Oregon country side! And I promise to try and keep my blog more up to date over this summer! I haven’t had internet a lot of the places I have been and life has been busy as all of you understand. But the Tooth taxi has been amazing as always; we are conquering Oregon one rotten tooth at a time lol! I have become a permanent part of the team and am so happy to be!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Monday morning as we were traveling south to Cave Junction we ran into snow over the pass and though we might not be able to get there because the highway was closed down. Luckily we found out the road was closed down after Cave Junction due to a rock slide. Because the town is such a sketchy place we had to park the bus 4 miles out of town at a teacher’s house. Normally we leave the tooth taxi parked at the school over night. But if we did there it would get vandalized. We only traveled on Monday. After traveling down there and parking the bus we headed out to the river. The two guys that I work with are huge rock hounders. Me on the other hand I could care less most rocks all look the same to me! But while they were collecting rocks I fed my love for taking pictures. It was a fun night even though it was snowing out and freezing cold. However our night on the river did not do much good for my cold. I managed to lose my voice Monday night which always makes work easier! :-P I didn’t have a voice all week. Also had a very sore throat and constant headache, fever, and hot and cold flashes. After a week of not being able to sleep because I was in too much pain I decided to go to urgent care when I got back home on Friday night. He told me I have a severe throat infection along with laryngitis. I’m on 3 different medications right now to hopefully feel a little better on Monday! I sure hope so I can’t wait to not be in pain and have my voice back! Although I think the guys I work with enjoyed the peace and quiet for a week! Lol! Can anyone imagine me of all people not talking for a week! Just wait till I can talk again! Nobody will be able to shut me up! Lol! Anyhow back to work…Cave Junction only had 24 kids for us to screen. I know the demand down there is greater but not many parents took advantage of the opportunity. Only 8 kids needed any sort of treatment so we saw all of them and most of them twice. All of the kids we treated were really nice. One reality of the road is when we asked one girl where her dad worked she said he’s in jail. Her mom worked at a video store and she had an older brother. Sad to hear that stuff but reality I suppose. It didn’t surprise me considering our location is known as the biggest drug capitol of Oregon. We treated Tuesday and Wednesday and then left Wednesday and headed to Gold beach. We went down to California and back up again. When we left cave junction we had snow for two days and then got to the beach and the sun was shining! I sat on my balcony of my ocean front hotel room that night and enjoyed the scenery. Of course Thursday we woke up to a crazy wind and rain storm! Gotta love the crazy Oregon weather! The school we treated at in gold beach was such a great place. Everyone there was so helpful and thankful to have us there for a day. Not always the case, trust me! We screened 25 kids that day and treated 9. It was a crazy day! One little boy that we treated had just been adopted from Russia. He was adopted when he was 9 and he was 11 now. He had surprisingly great teeth for growing up in an orphanage in Russia and never went to the dentist before. None of us could tell at first that he was from Russia. His English was great and didn’t have much of an accent. Very sweet kid! We saw a bunch of good kids that day. It was really a pleasure being able to work there for a day. Friday morning we got up and headed to Port Orford and did the screening for our kids next Tuesday. We screened about 30 kids. Not many needed treatment and we will only be there Tuesday treating and then we head to Coos Bay for the latter part of the week. We need to screen about 150 kids for us to have enough to do for a week. So when schools have lower numbers than that, which means lots of moving and traveling for us! We did three cities last week and hopefully only two this week!

Friday, March 5, 2010

The past two weeks have gone by quickly and fairly normal. Both towns were small towns in southern Oregon. We went to Riddle last week and Glendale this week. The towns are only about 30 min away from each other. In Riddle we screened about 90 kids and approximately 30% of them needed treatment. Monday started out fairly easy. We only screened about 50 kids and treated two on Monday. It was an easy day of treatment which gave us a chance to catch up on a lot of other work! After work we needed to go to the grocery store so we headed to downtown Riddle which by the way don’t blink or you’ll miss the town! And they definitely did not have a grocery store. They had a little market that wasn’t even as nice as a plaid pantry! There was nothing fresh in that store! Thank goodness for Canyonville, which is where we stayed the past two weeks. We stayed at 7 feathers casino. Oh please shoot me and put me out of my misery! The casino is a place for hundreds of old, crazy, handicap people! When I would walk downstairs to get dinner and I would have to avoid getting ran over by hover rounds!! Actually I did get hit by an old lady on a hover round my last night this week at the casino. I stuck mostly to my room and the gym the past two weeks cause well let’s face it they won’t be stepping foot in a gym any time soon. Heck they won’t be stepping anywhere anytime soon! HAHAHA! I do not have the patience or heart for old people! I think God was testing me this week! All I could see was big dentures everywhere! Ewww! :) The rest of the week in Riddle went really well we had a parent volunteer that helped with rounding up the kids and she was amazing one of our best. We did a lot of pulps and crowns and not as many sunshines (that’s our secret word for extractions) as I would like. Everyone needs a little sunshine to brighten their day! Haha! I know I do! We saw one girl that week that was in the 8th grade. She was the nicest girl. And all 28 of her PERMANENT teeth had severe decay in them! it was a horrible case. She had permanent molars that had completely rotted away. With her we just did filing and tried to save some of her front teeth. She was very apprehensive of the dentist cause of bad experiences in the past so she didn’t want us to do any of the extractions of the roots that she needed done. But it’s amazing just after one appointment with us she wanted us to do more treatment and trusted us and enjoyed her experience I really wish we would have had more time with her so we could do more treatment but I guess that’s one of the downfalls of the job. We can only do so much. The school was actually building a child neglect case against her parents because she has dental insurance but her parents never took her. And lack of basic dental care and treatment is child abuse. The doctor had to write up a letter for the school about her condition and lack of care to the child’s medical needs. You could tell she was a girl that had taken care of herself most of her life. She was very mature for her age and independent. We saw a lot of kids there that seemed to come from neglectful parents. Most of them had dental insurance but just were not being taken. It was a sad situation. But we had a great experience there and all of the kids were so happy and thankful to have us there. At the end of the week the school rounded up all the kids we treated and the kids came out to the van and thanked us. It was very sweet! After a exhausting week in Riddle I was happy to have a three day weekend at home. I spent one day painting at my friend’s house who is 6 months pregnant (cutest pregnant girl ever!). I painted her house while she was gone at work so she wasn’t around any fumes. So that was fun. I actually enjoy painting kind of relaxing. Oh Saturday was amazing too. I got my hair done in the morning and then went L&L with a friend for lunch!! Got to love a little lau lau and kalua pork! MMMM!
This week in Glendale went by really fast. We screened 50 kids and only treated like 20 so we were able to see quite a few kids twice. We were in a small lumber mill town. They did have a little bit better store than riddle but not much more. In Glendale there is actually a community dentist that is paid to come down once a week and do work but nobody in the town has ever seen him. There he is being paid for something he doesn’t do! We had some adorable kids this week. Some of the sweetest kids and we didn’t have any freak out too bad on us! On Wednesday I got to do hygiene work for half the day! I really enjoy doing that! Just mixes things up. I’m certified to do child prophys (cleanings). It gives us an opportunity to treat kids we don’t normally get to. Normally kids that just need cleanings we don’t see but this week I got to treat a few! One girl I treated was so happy after wards she said “Thank you so much for cleaning my teeth. I’ve always wanted to go to the dentist and get my teeth cleaned but I’d never got to before!” So cute!!! Oh and at the end of the week as we were getting ready to leave we found out the local news paper did a front page article on us from the week before when we were in riddle. I’m going to scan it and post it. It’s a great article on the Tooth Taxi! The dental foundation of Oregon is also doing an article on me for the spring news letter so that should come out in April some time. Lots of press coverage in this job. It’s fun though I’m glad that we are giving a positive outlook to oral hygiene and care. It’s been a great past two weeks and I’m looking forward to another three day weekend!
Next week we head further south to Cave Junction.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Pictures and Videos!

Well this week has been quite entertaining and I'll post more about it on Saturday but I wanted to post a few links for everyone.

The first two are videos done about the Tooth Taxi.

This one was done about a year ago.
This one was done about two weeks ago.

If you look below I uploaded slide shows of pictures from the tooth taxi, AK people visiting Oregon, and Hawaii. For those few of you who haven’t seen. The top one is work pics! Enjoy!

From the kid gallery(quotes):
“My tongue died”.
“My tongue is like feeling strange.”
“Last Christmas I went to Mexico, the old Mexico not the new one.”

Summary of Dental Services.
Tooth Taxi, September 4, 2008- Feb. 12, 2010
5705 students screened
1734 students received oral hygiene education in the classroom
2208 students treated in the van
$1,463,611 value of free dental services provided.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Week of Extra Teeth!!

This week started being very well rested after a three day weekend! It was an amazing weekend spent with friends and family I love! Tuesday morning came and we were on our way to Cottage Grove! We screened approximately 150 kids ranging from K-11. It was a crazy busy screening but we were still able to treat a few kids in the afternoon. I decided this week is the week of extra teeth. We saw 4 kids with extra teeth! Some stayed and some we pulled. Tuesday was mostly extractions!!! YAY!! The more blood the happier I am! Hahaha! Wednesday was a crazy day we treated 10 patients and screened more patients. It was another day of pulling decaying teeth!! So fun! We pulled one anterior tooth that was a fused primary tooth so cool! Two front baby teeth that fused together! He also had extra permanent teeth that were coming in. Wish we could see how that turns out! The school we were at this week was amazing. Everyone there was so helpful and they made lunch for us every day which was so sweet of them. And it wasn’t the stereotypical scary cafeteria food! It was good! I never ate cafeteria food growing up cause well we didn’t have one in private school but the thought always kind of scared me J. Thursday we had two volunteer dentists. One in the morning and one in the afternoon both of which brought their own assistants. That always makes for a crazy day because they don’t know how anything works or where anything is or how we do anything. So it kind of slows everyone down because we have to stop to help them. It is great having them there though because it means that we can treat more patients. Which is our goal. We work as hard, fast, and long as we can in order to fit in as many kids as possible. We never have a second to breathe during the day and usually only take about a 10 minute lunch. It’s always a fun time though. I work with two amazing gentlemen that are as sarcastic as me! Constant abuse and teasing makes the days go by fast! Thursday though was another extraction day! We treated one kid that we had to pull two baby teeth and one permanent because he had an extra permanent lateral incisor. Now hopefully his other permanent incisor will move into the correct position. That same kid we saw earlier in the week. In his first appointment we extracted a tooth and did a filling and in his second appointment we did a filling, a crown, and three extractions! He was a trooper! We also had one kid on the complete other end of the spectrum that was completely out of control. We weren’t able to treat her at all. Oh we also saw a kid that had 13 primary teeth left and all 13 of them had visible decay. You know you have a problem when all of your teeth are black and full of decay! It’s one of those mouths that you look in and have a hard time deciding where to start! So many teeth need treatment and we only have one appointment to do as much as we can. Friday was a great day not only was it the end of the week and I got to go home we also saw some great patients. In 4 hours we treated 6 patients which is a crazy amount but we wanted to fit in as many as possible. It meant that we left a little late but it was worth it. The principal of bohemia elementary was so sweet and bought us an amazing and exotic lunch. I had a salmon sandwich, Greek salad, and a strawberry torte thing. Not really sure what the dessert was but it was amazing! All of the food was so good! We were pleasantly surprised by the warmth and generosity of the school.

The weather this week was gorgeous and I was able to go for walks every night and explore the town a little bit! The only covered railroad bridge this side of the Mississippi is located in cottage grove. It’s the beautiful wooden bridge with a stream below it in the middle of a residential area. It looks forgotten but that’s what makes it more beautiful. I wasn’t able to take pictures of it this week but I definitely want to go back and take pictures. This week was a great week because it reignited my passion for taking pictures. Oh and for all that are curious my hands are doing great. I am still working on gaining full mobility and strength but they are holding up to the daily use and aren’t asleep or sore at the end of the day! It’s great!!! My incisions are also healing nicely. I think my right hand will have a bigger scar than my left. But hopefully neither will be too big! The incisions are still very very sensitive to touch. Even when my jacket barely rubs the palm of my hand I want to die! This week I was loading a syringe and hit the palm of my hand on the top to aspirate it and I wanted to cry! Such sharp shooting pain! Didn’t make that mistake again! But I am really happy with the progress. Relaxation this weekend! It will always be busy spending time with friends but I think I’m going to take Sunday to myself!!

Riddle, OR next week! !

FYI: I think I'm going to post a mid week blog with quotes, pictures, and keep a look out :)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Every week is an Adventure!

This week was supposed to be spent in Corvallis. We spend a week in each location but we ended up not having enough patients to treat and had to move locations mid week. Some schools that we go to 90% of the students have visible decay and need immediate treatment. In Corvallis at the school we were at was 30%. We saw all of our patients twice which never happens but it was good that we were able to. This week we actually did not get to do a lot of extractions which is what I enjoy the most! We've basically been doing pulp and crowns, fillings, and sealants. We have done a few extractions. We had to pull a permanent tooth this week because there was nothing left to the crown on the tooth at all just roots. She had some of the worst teeth. You could smell the decay when she opened her mouth. Her teeth were rotting out of her mouth. Quite a few of her molars had nothing left to the crown of the tooth and just roots. She also had a huge build up of calculus on her teeth which is very rare for a person her age. It was quite disturbing and of course it was right before lunch oh so appetizing lol! It's hard to see that but all we can do is help their conditions that currently exist as much as possible. We moved on Thursday to Brooks which is just north of Salem. The Tooth Taxi was just there last November and we were able to go back and finish treatment on some kids! We had some really sweet kids this week.
I also enjoyed the fact that I was in Corvallis and I was able to catch up with a few friends that I hadn’t seen in a few years. It was so much fun to reconnect with them. That is one advantage of my job is that I can travel around and see my friends that live in different areas of the state. Also since we relocated to Brooks I got to see my Randy, Leisha, and Molly! I got to spend Thursday night spending time with them which is always fun! I got to see adorable molly who for some reason ever since she was a puppy has loved my hair I don’t know if it’s the blonde color or what but the first thing she does when she sees me is attack my head and hair. It also might be the squeaking and screaming noises I make while she is attacking my hair. It was another fun week on the road. Moving mid week made for a crazy week but it is good that we did because we were able to help out more kids then we would have if we would have stayed in Corvallis. Here is a link to the Tooth Taxi web site so you can see it, read more details about it, and even see the schedule if you want to know where we are going the next few months.

Some quotes from the road over the past few weeks:
  • Teacher who came to visit said: “This is a Privilege!”
  • Patient exclaimed: “This is the nicest RV I’ve ever seen!”
  • Gym teacher came to visit the Tooth Taxi as a student showed him his tooth that had
  • been pulled. The student told the gym teacher how great the laughing gas was.
  • James about to do his classroom presentation on oral hygiene had a student ask “if he was going to tell them how to get big muscles.”
  • 2nd grader during screening: “All the teeth that are blank are lost, I’m growing them in.”
  • Patient: “I can’t believe you turned my teeth into silver, that’s awesome!”
  • Patient: “Am I going to get another cap?” Dr. Heringer: “I think so.” Patient: “Oh cool! Can I have a gold one this time?”

Next week is Cottage Grove!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

God is Good!

For the past two month now I have been interviewing for an amazing job and I found out on January 28 that I got!! Talk about the best news of the year! I am working for ODS (Oregon dental services) working on what is called the Smile Taxi. It is a mobile dental unit that travels around the state of Oregon providing free dental care to underprivileged children. We go to elementary schools around the state and spend a week in each place. They look for schools where 80% of children are on the free lunch program and also towns that are far away from dentists. This week was my first week on the job and we were in Cloverdale. It is a small town outside of Pacific City towards the coast. The first day we are in a town we screen the kids which means that the doctor does a basic oral evaluation to see how much decay is in a patient’s mouth and classifies them from 0-4. Zero meaning they just need a cleaning and four meaning they have extreme decay on multiple teeth. We treat the students that are classified at a 3 or 4. We saw a lot of extreme cases this week. Some kids were in 7th grade and had never seen a dentist before. Most kid’s treatments include extractions, crowns, and a few fillings. We unfortunately had to pull some permanent teeth this week which we do not like to do because it is crucial for people to hang onto their teeth as long as possible. But most of the teeth we pulled there was nothing left of it. Just roots and no crown. The kids are so thankful to us for helping them even when we do pull their teeth because it’s teeth that have been hurting them for years and they finally won’t be in pain any more. We had one kid this week that had to get a silver crown on a primary tooth and he thought it was so cool! He wanted to get more and gold ones too!  It is true kids say the funniest things. We almost made it all week without a kid throwing up on us but of course that last patient did! Oh so gross! The little disadvantages of the job...good thing the advantages outweigh it! Everyone in the community is so thankful for us being there and helping out children in the community. I was nervous about this job because as most of you know I’m not a huge kid person but I’ve been loving it. It is such a rewarding job and I feel so blessed to be doing it. I love my career and I love going to work every day. I also get to travel every week with this job which you all know that I love! I have a hard time staying in one place too long so this is kind of perfect for me I get to travel Monday through Friday and still be home on the weekends. It’s great to have a job and I see now why God had me wait so long for a job because this job fits me perfectly and for me is so much more than just a job! God once again proves that I just need to trust Him and His plan for my life. I never would have thought I would be able to find a traveling dental job or that I would have worked in Alaska last summer. Both have been such amazing experiences and I’m so thrilled for this new chapter in my life. I’m going to update my blog weekly so you can hear all the fun experiences I have on the road. Thank you everyone for your support over the years!