Saturday, January 31, 2009

Sunshiny Day

Even though most people would never think to come to Iowa, I have really enjoyed living her the past 3.5 years. Iowa City feels like just the right has most of everything I'm looking for without the traffic, crime, pollution of a larger city. However, there is one major issue I have with Iowa: the weather.

People are surprised to hear me complain about the weather. "Yeah, but you are from Utah, they get tons of snow there, right?" Yes, Utah can get tons of snow. But it is soft, powdery, beautiful snow. The snow in Iowa is more often than not, sleet or ice. It makes things scary and dangerous.

Also, the temperatures can be extreme, this winter being particularly harsh. It has been a very long and bleak winter, which usually doesn't end until well into March or even April.

With that said, I think I must be becoming an Iowan. Despite the -40 spell we recently had and the piles and piles of snow, I haven't minded so much. Maybe my core temperature is finally making the adjustment, realizing I will not be back in the "Oh, put on my coat--it is warm now" climate of blissful Utah winters.

Today is a balmy 40+ degrees. What a wonderful day! I had the grand idea to wash my car, wearing only my fleece jacket! Warm! Of course, the piles of snow and ice that have been decorating our landscape are melting into huge puddles leaving my car almost as dirty as before. But, just the idea that I COULD wash my car without sealing myself out of it by a sheet of ice was a wonderful feeling. (I also happened to be behind a guy washing a truck with Utah plates...felt like home)

Anyway, thank goodness for sunny days in the midst of a dreary Iowa winter!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Spidey Sense

Did you hear that Obama was in an episode of Spiderman? Good ole' Spidey saved inauguration day. Phew! However, don't rush out to stock up...a comic book whiz said he doesn't expect them to be worth much as a collectors item.

I wonder if Superman thought about adding him but didn't want to look bad next to Obama?

Also, you can get your hands on the Sweet Sasha and Marvelous Malia dolls (who have nothing to do with the Obamas, BTW).

I wonder when the First Lady Obama Barbie will come out?

--is it sad I got tired of the Obama hype before election day even occurred? After 1+ year of campaigning and "Yes We Can" Hope posters everywhere, I'm tired.

I think I'm the only one, too.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Boards Luck

On another note:

I found (confirmed) my second board patient today. My friend Dr. Laura Fauchier is a total saint and has been looking for board patients for me in her own private practice in Marion, IA. She has spent her own time making arrangements as well as donating the patient (and procedure profits) to me as well as the use of her office for screenings and xrays.

So far, Laura has found me two patients who appear very viable. I am particularly enthused about the periodontal patient she found that I screened tonight. She meets the criteria almost perfectly, without being too complex or borderline. This is the hardest patient to find.

So, I am still looking for one more patient with a cavity between the front teeth, and some potential back up patients, just in case. I feel very relieved for tonight.

My Big Decision

After a very stressful day of disappointment and question marks, I finally came to a decision about where to go from here.

My original plan was to do the general practice residency at UIHC. I felt like it would give me good general practice experience and a chance at OS next year.

However, at about 8:15am yesterday, the residency director called to ask if I would like the first chance at the internship position. I asked for a day to think about it and discuss with my husband.

I really was not sure what the right way to go would be. The inspiration didn't seem to be coming in any obvious ways and there were pros and cons to each. My biggest worry was doing the internship (which is not a guarantee of a spot next year) and not matching which would leave me a year out of practice with general dentistry skills as a brand new graduate, lacking experience and complete confidence.

Finally, this afternoon I decided to go for the internship position. Essentially, it adds an extra year on to the four year residency. The perks are I will get to know the program and the people, that I will gain more OS skills/experience, and have a better shot when I apply again. It is also like being a resident, but the lowest on the totem pole, esp (I would imagine) when it comes to being on call, getting time off, and doing not-so-fun leg work, etc. I am a little nervous but overall I feel okay about my decision and happy to have a little more OS time.

Thanks everyone for your support and encouragment. I hope that I am being led down the right path!

Monday, January 26, 2009

As you can see, my countdown clock ran itself down to 0. I got the news by email at about 7:30 am. I know you are all in suspense.

Going into it I thought I had a surprisingly good chance considering what a long shot it was to apply only to one school. Everyone was telling me it would be crazy for them not to choose me as I am well qualified and they have not had a woman in years and years.

When I got the email it was like, "Finally, after all of these months, and a long night, it is here."

And I have to admit I was surprised (a bit) to see

"We regret..." That put a fast end to all of the waiting.

I am disappointed. Maybe slightly relieved. Mostly, I am annoyed that I was so excited to be a regular old dentist and now I am dreading having to ever make a denture again or a crown on #15, etc. So today I think I am feeling a little bad.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Dress Dillemma II

Yup, I was right. I knew my friend would come asking about the dress soon. Last night I got a text asking about it.

I decided to be honest with her and tell her I have ben really stressing about it, not knowing what to do. She was very nice and said she doesn't want me stressing. Thank you. She told me I can get the fabric to match the dress for $12/yard. Ok. That is a start I guess. I asked if she had any ideas how to alter it, as it is her wedding. I told her I want to have a plan before I buy the dress for $150.

She told me, "Yeah, but we really need to order it. It takes 6 weeks to get here." My thoughts, "But we have 4 months and I don't want a dress I can't wear (that cost more than my own wedding dress!)."

I asked if she was set on the one dress she had chosen or if we could go with another option that would look normal with a jacket. She said yes, if I can have my seamstress redo the dress by taking off all of the beadwork. Sigh. Finally, she said she could get a new bridesmaid because she doesn't want me to stress too much.

So, I feel like I am back to square one. She doesn't want me to stress but she also doesn't want to help me fix the problem. Should I take the out and let her choose someone else, or do I take the time and spend the money (probably at least another $100-150 on top of the $150 for the dress)? I really don't know.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

45 hours

My countdown clock says 1 day. Somehow, 45 hours doesn't sound like one day, but either way, Match Day is coming!

I'm trying not to wish away my weekend in anticipation, but it has been four months since my interview, so a very long wait.

I feel optimistic but guarded. No one in their right mind would apply to only one program. Every one I am up against is top in their class, so it must be a hard decision for the program to make. I feel like I will be okay with whatever happens but I hope I wont be disappointed whatever the result.

Mostly, I am excited to know where my life will take me. This could be a huge life changer.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Dress Dillemma

One of my best friends from dental school is getting married this May. Months ago she asked me to be one of her bridesmaids. Despite all of my close friends being married growing up, this is the first time I have really been asked to be in the wedding and part of the ceremony. I will have to walk down the aisle and everything.

While I am flattered, I am very worried. I don't know what to do about the dress. She has a few in mind but I basically got dictated one after the other girls chose theirs. We are buying them all at the same place to ensure a perfect match of colors/fabrics.

I feel like I am in a bind. As is, I cannot wear the dress because it does not fit into the dress standards I have promised to live by. Before seeing the dress I suggested I possibly find a jacket or sweater to wear over it or maybe have one made. (Maybe something like this.) But, the wraps offered at the shop do not come in the matching color and she wants it to be plum like the dress. I'm not sure a jacket will even work.

So my problem is, I know she is going to start getting worried I haven't ordered a dress. But, I don't want to buy a non-refundable one that I am not sure I can even wear. Even if I have a jacket made by my seamstress, I'm not sure I can get the fabric I need or even afford it after paying $150 for the dress.

Any ideas? I told her I didn't need to wear a dress, I could just be an attendant or something but she insisted. It was hard enough for my own wedding finding something I could is even harder to impose my belief on someone else's wedding.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Not so helpful warnings

If you are or plan to become a parent (and one who will take your child(ren) to the dentist) please read:

It is common knowledge that people hate the dentist. Despite the hit I take on my self esteem with this issue, I can see why...funny smells, piercing loud noises, lack of personal space, abberant water spray, and often moments of discomfort...although I think hate is still a strong word.

Even so, do you think a 2 year old knows this? Are we born with an innate fear of the DDS? I doubt it.

That is why I often become frustrated with parents (and siblings). Mom will bring back little Timmy for his first dental visit--an easy look, tooth brushing, and fluoride. Mom then says, "Don't worry honey, it wont hurt," and the easy look becomes much more difficult. Timmy is suddenly wondering why he got a warning if it isn't going to hurt.

Then, when treatment is actually needed such as a common filling, sister tells baby all about how awful and scary it is and what a huge needle, etc. Or, Dad, trying to prepare the child, will tell them how they are going to get A SHOT. They love to ask me as I come to the lobby, "Will she get a shot today?" Often, the child doesn't even realize they had "the shot" but the description and "preparation" makes them agitated and fearful, making treatment that much harder. They continually ask, "When am I going to get the shot?" Always try to look at the syringe, and often try to grab the syringe out of my hands which is dangerous and much worse than the injection itself.

Today a patient brought in her child because she was worried the child had a problem. She told me right off, "I told her she would probably have to have a tooth pulled today and she is terrified." ...Great! I told her today we would do any such thing, we would have to take a look first. Mom became a bit agitated, and asked, "When will you then?" Turns out everything was perfectly normal but mom made the child fearful for nothing. I'm not sure why the mom was so sure of what the child needed to make the suggestion (almost demand) in the first place.

Moral of the story:

Please don't try to be helpful by informing your child every little detail of what will happen in their appointment. We do a very good job of what we call "tell-show-do" every step of the way. I am convinced most dental behavior problems can be prevented by letting the dentist describe the procedure to the child and by treating dental appointments in a non-chalant manner. If you really must tell them something, something like, "Dr. Erin is going to wash away all of your sugar bugs so your teeth can be healthy again," should suffice. They may never even have to know about "the shot." After all, I don't "give shots," at least not to kids. I "drip sleepy water" onto teeth.


Working in a dental public health clinic is an interesting experience. Working in a PEDIATRIC dental health clinic is even more interesting. The spectrum of patients is very broad from age, behavior, and procedures.

For example, today I saw two three year olds. One became hysterical when I started brushing his teeth. The other sat very still, opened "wide like an alligator" and let me do a filling without a single movement, wimper, or complaint. I also saw an 8 year old who almost got stabbed with the needled when he grabbed my hands and sat up during his injection and I've seen 13 year olds cry. So interesting.

It breaks my heart to see little kids who really can't know better, like a 2 year old we saw who needs 4 teeth taken out, or even the 9 year old whose mom never brought her back to have her cavities filled and may lose her teeth.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The burn

I did first exercise class.

I was worried when I was the only one there until about 7:05 for a 7:00 start time. Luckily, I had about 7-8 women show up within the first 15 minutes.

I'm not sure I was super peppy or coordinated, but I did make it through the warm-up without any aerobic mishaps. The girls seemed to think it was a challenging workout and at the end, most asked if we could do it again next week. They seemed to have fun.

What a relief. I am really hurting now, already...I must have done something different this time.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Last minute thoughts

Match Day is coming, as you can see by the handy countdown timer I added. In just over 1 week I will have a better idea about what path my future will take me down. I am not sure the exact time that day I will be notified, but I will try my best to get the word out as soon as I know.

A few thoughts as it nears:

I am a little nervous for either result. I was recently offered the position for the general practice residency at the hospital. This is a relief to know I have a good back up plan.

If I do match in OS, I am looking forward to never doing cleanings or dentures again! I am excited to be in a hospital setting, learning about surgery, how to manage complex patient medical issues, and really becoming a specialist in a field I enjoy.

I am nervous about: the time committment, lack of sleep, and the potential that maybe I wont be up to par. As the only woman in the program I feel I will have to try extra hard to prove I am capable. I think the men in the program are great, but to be incompetent AND a woman would be hard to keep their respect.

If I do not match into OS, I will be a little relieved by the flexibility I will have in the next few years for family opportunities as well as with Abe's career. He wont be tacked down to a residency here in Iowa City. I can work normal dental hours and get a good night's sleep when I choose. I am nervous about having to learn more about things like dentures, pediatric dentistry, and the huge scope of general practice I will be required to know, as well as the hope that I will enjoy it as much as I would OS.

Either way, it will be an exciting day!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Sweaty now

Well, some good came from my multiple days off and not wanting to brave the cold weather: I was able to come up with my workout routine for next week's class.

It took me three hours of sorting through music and practicing different ideas but I came up with a pretty good working workout. I decided to focus on moves you can do at home with little or no equipment, focusing on building strength. So many women are afraid to do strength training because they "don't want to look like a man." In reality, strengthening your muscles is the best way to burn calories and lose weight, because even when you aren't exercising you are burning more calories. Just look at your husbands, brothers, or sons. How many just have to think about exercise and they lose weight? Or eat everything in sight and are still sticks? They go straight to the weights while we spend hours on the treadmill. So, that is my those muscles.

Unfortunately, the idea that using big weights will again make you "look like a man" is actually false. To look like a man you probably need to work out hours and hours a day and/or be on steroids. Small weights with multiple repetitions really aren't as effective as larger weights with smaller reps (you should be very tired after 10-12 reps). The unfortunate part is, I don't have access to weights for the class so I will be using our own body weight mostly for resistance.

So, my routine consists of warm-ups (the hardest part...if I were a dancer this would be much easier), an arm routine using push-ups, a chair for dips and rows, and cans for extra resistance for shoulders; a leg routine using Justin Timberlake's "Sexy Back" as inspiration consisting of mostly lunges/squats/kicks/calf raises; and abs (crunches and other core strengthening exercises). Followed by a cool down (again a little awkward, I've never liked the whole breathey-in and out things that remind me of karate kid).

I practiced my routine on my mother-and-sister-in-law. Overall it went well once I tried not to be embarassed and got past the warm-up.

If it goes really well I may start marketing my routine online. I'll keep you posted. Haha.

If you are in town, I hope to see you there on Tuesday.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Icy Greetings

This week has been very strange. I am currently on rotation in Cedar Rapids, so am not at the dental school. The weather has been very very wintery here the past week or so with big blizzards and now, severe "arctic temperatures."

Yesterday morning I received a call informing me the clinic had been cancelled. This is something that never happens at the dental school. I was not surprised and somewhat relieved I did not have to make the trek to Cedar Rapids in the 5 inches of snow that still covered some of the roads. This morning, however, I was surprised to receive my 6:30 am phone call informing me that again, we were cancelling the clinic due to severe temperatures. The temperature then was -28 with a winchill of -45. Even now, with the sun shining, it is -21 with a windchill of -41. I can't imagine how cold it is, I am almost tempted/half afraid to go see for myself!

Two nights ago a man in Minnesota died from exposure after he was sleep walking outside barefoot. It's cold!

Now, what do I do with my second day off?

Monday, January 12, 2009

The next Richard Simmons...

The women's group of our church is called the Relief Society. Each RS comes up with its own mini-"clubs" to cater to the interest groups of the women in the congregation. As such, the leadership are constantly looking for new groups to get women involved. On the most recent survey, I wrote down that I would be interested in a weekly fitness club where the women get together and take turns teaching. I thought, even if it is an exercise video, that will be better than sitting at home!

The next question read, "Would you be willing to teach?" I felt like, "Well, I better be willing to do it if it is my idea." A few months ago, I was asked if I would, indeed, teach the class (at least the first time). I said yes, again, trying to be a good sport and support my own idea. I hoped when I got home from Christmas break that it would be forgotten. On the contrary, it has now been announced. So, I am stuck.

I have contemplated just teaching my first SCUBA class and pretending we are underwater. Unfortunately, even if I had some imaginative classmates who would buy it, it wouldn't be very good exercise. I am a little worried about having enough to do for a full 45-60 minute block. I am planning to focus on strength training--squats, lunges, push-ups, etc. I hope I don't run out of ideas..."Umm, squats again? Oh, you have a charlie horse?"

Also, I just don't think I'm PEPPY. Isn't that a requirement? Richard Simmons is definately peppy, even as a dude. I'm not sure I can do the, "...and one, and two,.. three, ..four....feel the burn ladies!" And, I'll probably feel the burn more than anyone else.

Lastly, they announced it as "pregnancy friendly." I don't know what is or isn't friendly to the fabrication of a fetus, and I definately don't want to send any women into labor.

Any suggestions anyone? What are your favorite exercises (I don't think I have access to weights or anything like that)? Do you have any music that gets your heart pumping? How can I prevent a pre-term birth?

I'm sweating already!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


I have been worried about my upcoming clinical board exam, like you've been hearing about. Our instructors were very unclear about what we needed to be doing. My group worriedly brought our concerns to their attention, only to be pooh-poohed.

Evidently now, the instructors are VERY WORRIED about the lack of patients available for the exam. I don't think even 10% of my class has the patients they need. We have been told we are now responsible for finding our own patients. This makes it very difficult when I am not going to be anywhere near the school during business hours for another 9.5 weeks (the test is in 10 weeks).

Yesterday I found a patient with two perfect cavities. However, I feel very awkward asking to snatch away this patient from another hospital. I guess I better get aggressive and ask. (This patient has some psychiatric issues that made her less than an ideal patient anyway).

Anyway, if you have been putting off going to the dentist or know you have a few small cavities or periodontal disease, PLEASE let me know! If you could come in to the dental school for a free screening and xrays I would be very grateful. Leave a comment or email me and I will facilitate the process for receiving the care you need.

Thank you!

I need:
1 small cavity between back teeth
1 small cavity between the front teeth
1 patient with mild-moderate periodontal disease

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


I'm not doing any New Year's resolutions this year. I have my own New Life resolutions...the ones I am constantly working on, usually failing, but hopefully making some very slow progress on over the years.

Right now I have been working on taking better care of myself. The BodyWorlds exhibit re-energized me. I want to have the nice, sleek muscles and anatomy. I don't want the plaque-y arteries or the fatty liver. My best game plan includes: 1)eat the recommended number or fruits and veggies each day; 2) listen to my body; 3) make exercise a bigger priority, even if it is just 15 minutes a day. I think these are manageable enough steps to reaching my bigger goal of pristine guts.

My one frustration, however: today I have been starving all day, despite eating well. I exercized tonight and all I want is a cheesy quesadilla. Grapes didn't quite do it for me. It just seems ironic. This is a good time not to follow objective #2 above.

Good luck with the goal reaching this year!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Merry New Year

Wow, I really fell off the horse when it comes to blogging! I think I was so burnt out after a December of a crazy-huge ward Christmas party we were in charge of, trying to finish up patients and get them reassigned to other students to finish work I was unable to complete (mostly due to weather), and an eval from a professor that just kinda got me down ("You are pulling a strong "C," Erin, good job"--a "C" has never been good for me!). Add on top of that traveling through Chicago at Christmas and it makes for crazy times.

We went to Chicago a few days before Christmas for Abe's family tradition. We ate good food and saw some good sites while there. Unfortunately, we missed Abe's sister Abby and Matt for all but a few hours. We then barely made it out of the airport in a huge snowstorm.

Utah was great. It was so nice to see my family and I realized I was right about how nice Utah winters are. The snow is amazing (no ice!) and the temperatures very reasonable with a coat. Abe ran into his sister a few times on accident while skiing and tubing. Random. I was able to meet my sister's new fiance before the wedding in February! It was very hard to leave again and we had some delays out of the airport as well.

We made it into Chicago on Friday very late and stayed a night in the hotel. We had some fun in the city before driving back to Iowa. Luckily, we practically missed the ice storm and didn't realize how slick it was until we got out of the car. We arrived home to a whole second Christmas from Abe's family.

Today is the official start of school. Unless I messed up, I don't have to start my first externship until tomorrow. I will be at St. Luke's hospital in Cedar Rapids in the pediatric dentistry clinic. I am nervous about pedo. It has been a very long time. Mostly, I am borderline freaking out (for me) about not having any boards patients yet. I will not be at the school to find any so will have to rely on friends. I don't like being out of control like that.

January is exciting because I find out about OS in just 25 days!