November has been a whirlwind. The last time I posted I was getting ready to head to Chicago for ASDA’s National Leadership conference. It was a weekend full of insightful speakers, abundant social time meeting and going out (ahem, networking) with so many great people from all over the country, and there maybe even have been a dental student hunger games reenactment to fight for the free Oral B electric toothbrush at the vendor fair. I plan on doing a post soon set aside to share some highlights of the trip, but there’s so much else that has happened in just the past couple of weeks. I am beginning to fully understand the statement describing time in school as “The days are long but the years are short.” Amen.
After cramming for 2 days after my Chicago weekend for our dental anatomy final, we’ve got yet another course under our belt now. Here at Penn, we have a couple courses that are pass/fail/honors even though the majority are traditional letter-graded. Dental anatomy is one of the pass/fail courses. The next preclinical lab course we moved quickly into was occlusion. Just how many times can you “tap, tap, tap” and check for the correct occlusal markings across a second premolar and both mandibular molars, carve down and/or build up, and check again? The world will never know. Tomorrow gladly marks the end of our colored wax up aka rainbow gummy bear teeth. We received part two of dental student Christmas which was our new instrument kit to be used for the operative section of GRD we’ll start in the spring. Ask me if any of us have any clue what any of them are or do or why they cost us thousands of dollars on that supplies line in our student tuition/budget. Speaking of dental student Christmas, I also redeemed my “professional discount code” for my FREE Sonicare Phillips electric toothbrush, and I’m in love. Even though I’ve been caries-free for 22 years, I actually have only ever used manual toothbrushes. I knew dental school over medical school was a wise decision. What do they even get in med school, free electric blood pressure cuffs?
Remember a few posts back when I talked about how sometimes Life things will come before school things? Well, during the weekend I was all out studying for our beastly biochem metabolism exam, I got news that my Granddaddy had finally reached the end of his long and full life. His final days and even the last several years had been hard for the family just because the toll that old age can take on a person (he was 94). It was obviously a time of sorrow, but definitely a different scenario than the call I received back in April about Dad. As I struggled back and forth with figuring out the logistics of if I was going to be able to go home to Texas for the service, I finally realized that this was one of those times. One of the times when it’s ok to say yes to family and illogical cross-country travel and no to the temporary stresses of school and the implications of missing almost a week of class and an exam. My professors were all understanding, and we worked out things for me to make up my exam and catch up in other things when I returned. Obviously this trip home was unexpected and somber, but at the same time so sweet and needed. We celebrated the life and legacy of my grandfather and rejoiced knowing that he was free of the physical bondage of his aged body and given a new perfect body where he met Jesus face to face. The hope and promise of heaven is always more than enough to have the strength for us weary ones back down here to keep pressing on for this present life, knowing we’ll be reunited one day with those who have gone before us.
The days in between have been busy and tiring, nothing out of the ordinary really. I still love this season, my classmates, and most days what I’m learning. It’s not all roses though. Exams never end, lab is many times frustrating, and of course I still miss my Waco community. Immunology and microbiology will never be my forte or passion, but we’ve also been deep in skull anatomy and osteology – something I love and am continuously fascinated by. The architecture of skull foramina are straight up miraculous in and of themselves, let alone the neurovascular bundles that course their way through them supplying blood and innervation for everything our face/head does – eat, talk, smile, see, smell, taste…. My background as an anatomy TA for Dr. P at Baylor is so so so appreciated while I try to catch up in my other courses. I’ll be honest and say that this month has been somewhat of a lull for me, mentally and spiritually. I’ve yet to get plugged in at any church and am still searching for wisdom in that decision. School never has a pause button, and missing a week definitely slowed my momentum. I’ve struggled to find the groove of efficiency again. Some big things that I’ve been praying for and believing for for a while recently took a turn that was hard on my heart. Even over a 1000 miles from home, I’ve been so appreciative of my friends I still keep in touch with and some of our never ending text novels back and forth about Heart things and Truth things. Not going home for Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday probably) is really tough, but I’m so thankful that my mom, sister, and baby nephew got to come see me last weekend for a long weekend of eating too much, exploring my new home, cuddles with G, and acoustic jam sessions. I’m also thankful that I’ll be hosting my first Friendsgiving on Thursday, my apartment will smell of warm apple crumble, and the wine glasses will be full.
G’night, friends. Despite the confusion, division, and selfishness that plagues our news feeds, let us continue to do the hard things and choose truth, peace, and gratitude this season.