In which, here are some things to do in Seattle while at AAPD

When it was first announced that the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD)’s conference would be in Seattle while I was here as a resident, I was a little disappointed – one of the highlights of residency is traveling somewhere during your graduation year. Going to Boston last year made up for it, but still. After having traveled all over the US in the past five months however, my tune has changed and I am very excited to have a conference where I can sleep in my own bed.

So, if you’re coming to our current city, here are some of my favorite things to do. I hope you enjoy your stay as much as we have!

Within walking distance of the Convention Center (West, up the hill)

  • This is the Capitol Hill neighborhood – the historic “LGBTQ neighborhood” now is filled with hipsters, fancy restaurants, art galleries and startups. A great infographic (made of course by an infographic specific startup in Capitol Hill) can be seen here.
View from Capitol Hill looking downtown

View from Capitol Hill looking downtown

  • Food
    • Sitka and Spruce: Classic Seattle farm-to-table dining with a menu changing nightly.  The space is just lovely – the restaurant is housed within Melrose Market (which has Taylor Shellfish if you like oysters, a distillery or two and some Seattle-y small shops: flower shop, butcher, cheese shop etc)
    • Mamnoon: Delicious Lebanese fusion that is still very “Seattle”
    • Oddfellows Cafe: Great dining space and food. Takes reservations. Check out the Elliot Bay Book Company next door
    • Barrio: One of my favorite fancy Mexican restaurants
    • La Spiga: Excellent Italian food
    • Dick’s Drive-In: Hometown hero Macklemore shot a video here and while the burgers are good, the fries aren’t awesome (acceptable if doused in tartar sauce). It’s a Seattle icon and cheap. Cash only.
    • Really anywhere along The Pike-Pine corridor or along Madison – it will be hopping on Thursday/Friday/Saturday nights
  • Sites
    • Broadway is a street with a young scene. A lot of easy to grab food and funky shops. Seattle Central College’s campus is here.
    • Cal Anderson Park – grab some Molly Moon’s ice cream and watch people play bike polo (it’s weirdly entertaining and some of the best in the world practice here).
    • Starbucks Roastery – their uber fancy Seattle coffee room. Better than the Original Starbucks in the Market (and less tourists vying to snap a photo of the mermaid with boobs), but still Starbucks. Other great coffees include Caffe Vita, Broadcast Coffee, and Top Pot (which also has amazing doughnuts)
    • Some of the best people-watching in the city, and very few of them will be tourists.
Bike polo near Cal Anderson Park

Bike polo near Cal Anderson Park

Within walking distance of the Convention Center (East, down the hill)

  • This is the City Center/Downtown/Pike Place Market area – the touristy area that you should at least check out so you can say you’ve “been to Seattle”:
Seattle skyline from the waterfront

Seattle skyline from the waterfront

  • Food
    •  Plenty of stalls to grab fresh fruit or veggies from in the Market
    • Of course you’ll find all your chain restaurants in the City Center: Cheesecake Factory, Capitol Grill, Ruth’s Chris, etc (but you didn’t come all this way to eat there, right?)
    • The Original Starbucks – it’ll be the one with a long line of tourists with cameras. It serves the same drinks as the others, but with a longer wait. You can get a specialty roast there that is only sold in that store, but otherwise, I’d just peek in and skip the line.
    • Etta’s – or really any of the Tom Douglas restaurants. Grab fresh seafood here instead of the higher priced restaurants in the Market proper (Matt’s, Cafe Campagne, etc) or the decent, but panders-to-tourists Pike Place Chowder.
      • Speaking of Tom Douglas, his other restaurants that are in walking distance: Lola (Mediterranean), Dahlia Lounge (new American), Serious Pie (pizza – delicious!), SeaBar (seafood/oysters), Palace Kitchen (comfort food, open late), Tanaka San (“unauthentic Asian street food” – his words, not mine), and most recenty Cantina Lena (Mexican).
    • A little further out, but delicious: Bar Sajor is a Mediterranean/almost north African inspired, lots of great spices, still with a Northwest twist
    • Rachel’s Ginger Beer – delicious and comes in a bunch of seasonal flavors. Also has a cute tasting room with great views of Elliot Bay and the ferries
    • Local 360 and Spur Gastropub – both farm-to-table places and delicious

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  • Sites
    • We are home to the original Nordstrom’s and the flagship store for REI (two stories of gear with an outdoor bike track) – both fun buildings to check out.
    • Once in the Market, stop by the Gum Wall: down Post Alley, gross, but a good picture
    • Watch them throw fish on the corner at Pike Place Fish Company
    • Wander down through the Market to the Seattle Waterfront. It’s under a lot of construction (we’re trying to replace the ugly double-decker Highway 99 that threatens to fall into Elliot Bay during an earthquake)
      • Seattle Aquarium ($22): Play in tide pools and see the great otter exhibit. Good feel of PNW wildlife.
      • Walk out on the piers for great views of the stadiums, Seattle harbor and Mount Rainier on a sunny day. If you look back and see Smith Tower (white, pointy building) – it was once the tallest building west of the Mississippi and someone lives in the top spire.
      • Seattle Wheel ($13): I’ve never been able to justify the price and go up in it, but fun to look at.
      • If you have time: a great hour to two hour trip is to walk onto a ferry and go over the Bainbridge Island. It’s $8 and gives you the opportunity to 1) ride on a Washington state ferry from the busiest ferry terminal in the US, 2) check out Bainbridge (there’s a great ice cream shop at the ferry terminal) and 3) have spectacular views of the city, the Sound, the Olympic mountains out on the peninsula and get some fresh air. One of my favorite things to do with out-of-towners.
      • Also can ride the water taxi out to Alki Beach if you’re short on time and see where the first settlers tried to brave out a stormy winter.
    • Also, just FYI: we’re currently protesting the Shell Oil rig on it’s way up drill near Alaska. You’ll see a bunch of people kayaking in the Harbor as “kayaktavists”  #sHellNo
Activists participate in the sHell No Flotilla part of the Paddle In Seattle protest.  Nearly a thousand people from country gathered May 16, 2015 in Seattle's Elliot Bay for a family-friendly festival and on-land rally to protest against Shell’s Arctic drilling plans.  Photo by Greenpeace

Activists participate in the sHell No Flotilla part of the Paddle In Seattle protest. Nearly a thousand people from country gathered May 16, 2015 in Seattle’s Elliot Bay for a family-friendly festival and on-land rally to protest against Shell’s Arctic drilling plans. Photo by Greenpeace

Will require either a taxi or an Uber ride, but worth it (organized by neighborhood)

All of these will be a $10-15 ride, but you can walk a lot or do other activities while you’re there and will show you a taste of how real Seattlites live.

Gas Works Park from the water

Gas Works Park from the water

  • Lake Union/U-District/Wallingford
    • You can rent a bike (maybe at REI?) and ride around it – great interurban lake.
    • Gas Works Park: at the north end, one of my favorite views of the city. Great for a picnic lunch. If you’re going that way, stop by Paseo’s in Fremont for one of my favorite sandwiches of all time (cash only, expect a line).
    • Rent a kayak at Agua Verde in the U-district (it’s really close to the dental school if you’d like to see that, but it’s old and kind of ugly, so would not recommend). You can paddle out to Lake Union (calmer) or Lake Washington (if you’re feeling brave) and enjoy tacos afterwards. Next to the University of Washington
    • Center for Wooden Boats and the MOHAI – great Seattle cultural areas in South Lake Union (where Amazon reigns)
    • Ivar’s Salmon House (a Seattle icon) or Westward (outdoor fireplace!) for delicious seafood and spectacular views of the city across Lake Union. Both take reservations.
    • We live in the Wallingford neighborhood which we love – let me know if you have an specific questions about food there (or see our Seattle Survey).
View of the city from Gas Works Park

View of the city from Gas Works Park

  • Queen Anne
    • This is near the Seattle Center where the Reception will be. Since that’s included in the AAPD I’m not going to go into detail about it, but it’s an easy walk to Westlake Center (a shopping area) and then you can take the monorail down to it. There are only terminal stops on the monorail despite the vote every few years to extend it throughout the city.
    • One of my favorite views of the city is at Kerry Park, up the hill and you can see Mount Rainier on a sunny day
My mom and I in front of the Fremont Troll under the Aurora Bridge in Fremont

My mom and I in front of the Fremont Troll under the Aurora Bridge in Fremont

  • Ballard/Fremont
    • Fremont has a reputation for being where all the old hippies in Seattle live and they are the self-proclaimed “Center of the Universe”. Funky shops and great food including Revel, The Whale Wins, Agrodolce, Joule and Roux.
    • Awesome tasting room and some of my favorite beer at the Fremont Brewery. Get the Interurban IPA, it tastes like summer.  
    • Also to see in Fremont: The Fremont Troll, the Lenin Statue and the Ballard Locks on your way out to Ballard
    • Ballard’s Market Street has a ton of great shops and restaurants including Bastille Cafe and Bar and the best oysters in the city at The Walrus and the Carpenter (does not take reservations, opens at 4pm).
    • Grab a Paseo sandwich (cash only) and eat a picnic lunch at Golden Gardens – a fantastic park overlooking the Sound and Olympic mountains. You can have bonfires on the beach here.
View of the Olympics across the Puget Sound

View of the Olympics across the Puget Sound

Links to some of the things I’ve done with visitors

Other “cultural” notes

Just some things to be aware of when visiting our fine city:

  • The fine for jaywalking ($56) is higher than the fine for smoking pot in public ($27) and they love to write tickets for the former, not the latter. You’ve been warned.
  • Our public transit isn’t great. The light rail won’t get you anywhere too exciting and the monorail only runs between Westlake Center and the Space Needle. Uber and Lyft are some of the easiest and cheapest ways to get around or a traditional taxi. Rides from the City Center to any of the places listed will run $10-15 (but check first to make sure there isn’t a rate hike due to demand).
  • Most places will have three bins in which to dispose of your trash: landfill, recycle and compost. Use the signs that are usually attached to help you navigate them or ask a friendly stranger – people won’t judge you for sending things to the landfill, but they will judge you for putting a recyclable in the compost bin. Also any compostable utensil (usually they’re brown and feel plastic-y) will melt in your very hot food – just don’t let it sit in there between bites and you’ll be okay.

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In which I know they’re going to do great

My co-residents are taking the AAPD written boards tomorrow and checking off one giant item from the graduation to-do list. I’m sad I won’t be in the trenches with them, but I know they’ve been studying hard and will do beyond awesome. Good luck y’all!!!

CPD faculty and staff helped us wish them good luck :)

CPD faculty and staff helped us wish them good luck 🙂

In which I felt the need to respond

I saw this on my twitter feed today:

I tried to embed it here: Tenn. reporter gives parents good tips to protect their kids' teeth from decay http://t.co/nMBgzmIoWF #Dentalisfundamental @karennazorhill— CDHP (@Teeth_Matter) February 5, 2014

..and got excited. A paper from my home state was highlighting children’s oral health – particularly applicable since February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. But then I read the article, linked here, and was sadly disappointed.

If you have nothing better to do with your day, my response that I emailed to Ms. Hill is pasted below:

Ms. Hill,

First I would like to thank you for highlighting the importance of children’s oral health for the Chattanooga community. Early childhood caries (cavities) is the number one chronic disease affecting young children and establishing a healthy mouth promotes overall well-being.

I am concerned that parts of your article are inadvertently dismissive of the current recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Academy of Pediatrics that children see a dentist by age one and do not fully emphasize the importance of dental care for children:

The entire anecdotal section about Dr. Joseph Brogden’s interaction with his grandson is not applicable to many patients. Dr. Brogden is a general dentist and unfortunately is disseminating and reinforcing false, outdated information about children’s teeth (as quoted by his daughter as saying: “…it really isn’t necessary to get kids to the dentist too young. After all, baby teeth do fall out”). The reason that we currently recommend children seeing a dentist at age one is because all too often when they are seen at three, four, five years old or later, they already have cavities that need to be fixed. Sadly, emergency room visits for children because of tooth pain are on the rise and dental disease contributes to thousands of lost school days each year.

Cavities in baby teeth can quickly spread to the nerve of the tooth and then into the bone which can damage developing adult teeth and cause life threatening infections. Many times this necessitates having the baby tooth pulled, and then it no longer holds space for the permanent tooth that will come in when the child is 11 or 12, which can cause crowding. Young patients are particularly challenging as highlighted by your article. Children do not often want to sit in a dental chair and fixing even small cavities on their baby teeth before they get larger is often impossible. Without good preventative measures, it is often necessary that children have surgery under general anesthesia or sedation to fix their cavities, which comes with its own set of risks.

By seeing a child early and often, dentists can help parents prevent cavities and monitor a child’s growth and development. Dr. Charles Ankar highlighted helpful hints that are useful for parents, but I’m afraid that the consequences of not following these guidelines were not forthcoming in your article.

Quotes from parents saying that going to the dentist is both difficult and a waste of time and money is unhelpful for the general public (“I thought it was a total waste of time and money and put Shad and I in a power struggle of ‘you must sit for the dentist’ that we just didn’t need. I won’t take Knox for many years, unless, of course, there is something that needs to be checked out”). For some children, going to the dentist is difficult, but so is getting necessarily immunizations from their pediatrician. Pediatric dentists are dentists who have gone to dental school and then completed an additional two years of training afterwards, and are a good resource for scared kids. They have been trained in techniques to help familiarize children to the dental environment while providing age appropriate care. I was disappointed that you did not include any pediatric dental specialists in your article. As for early visits being a “waste of money”, it is much cheaper to see a dentist for preventative cleanings and exams than to fix cavities (especially under general anesthesia) or be seen in the emergency room for tooth pain.

Again, I am very thankful that children’s oral health is being highlighted by the media, so I do not mean for this letter to be disparaging. I am only concerned that the importance was not properly conveyed. The answer to the question posed in the title of your article should have been a clear, unequivocal “age one” in order to prevent undue morbidity, and rarely but tragically, mortality. February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, when the American Dental Association raises awareness about developing good habits for a lifetime of healthy teeth. This however this is clearly an important public health issue that needs to be addressed year round.

Sincerely,

Elise Sarvas, DDS

Pediatric Dental Resident and Master of Public Health candidate at the University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Hospital in Seattle, Washington

Native of Oak Ridge, Tennessee

In which I start a new chapter

When I ranked UW and Seattle first during the Match process, I was really excited. This was the only program where you could dual train in pediatric dentistry and public health and get paid to do it. I was even more excited when two weeks later I found out that I’d matched to one of the two spots in the country available. Awesome – I would earn not only my Certificate in Pediatric Dentistry (which alone qualifies you to be a pediatric dentist), but also my Master’s of Science in Dentistry and my Master’s in Public Health. It was the ideal triple threat combination that lets you go wherever you want. Bonus: I loved that Bri was the other person who matched to the position; we got along great and I knew we’d make an awesome team. But then, fast forward a year and some initially trying months of residency later, and my program told me that the grant that made all this possible no longer existed. Done. Gone. Over. No chance of finding additional funding. Sayonara. Goodbye.

I was, needless to say, a tad upset. I had moved not only myself, but my husband, 2,853 miles across a continent for this. I ranked other really good programs lower to do this. I gave up just going straight into a lucrative, safe dental practice to do this. I had already been accepted at UW’s School of Public Health – a top ranked institution. Not cool. Seriously, not cool. My program gave me two options: 1) just drop the MPH and complete the traditional pediatric dental residency and graduate in two years with the Certificate and Master’s of Science in Dentistry or 2) continue with the additional Master’s of Public Health track, knowing that I would not earn a salary for my third year and I would be responsible for the additional tuition. Option #1 was out – I’d already going through too much to get here. Option #2 was really out, because seriously y’all, I’m in the 22nd grade, and all those years of schooling don’t come cheap. Until we win the lottery I’d rather not add to the debt load already bearing down on us. I was crushed.

But this story has a good ending (though for many sleepless nights there didn’t seem like there’d be one): through some hard work and a lot of good luck I was able to fall into the right place at the right time with the right people. I’ve been awarded a T90 postdoctoral trainee grant from the NIH to continue my work in pediatric dentistry and start my MPH classes next week. It comes with the stipulation that I spend a majority of my time in research, an area I’ve always loved, but have recently fully embraced as where I’m supposed to be. This puts me on the path to Academia, a world I know well from the student side and am learning more about each day from the teaching side. I’ve always had lingering doubts about running a private practice as a solo practitioner, and this solidifies that that probably was never going to be the right choice for me. The one downside of all this is that I’ll have less time to spend with my co-residents, whom I love and whose friendships I cherish very much. They’ve been very supportive in the transition and I’m thankful that we’ll still share a few clinics and more importantly, many happy hours together.

Thanks to all of you who lived out this saga in real time through phone calls and emails; your support sustained me. Thanks for never giving up on me and more importantly, for never letting me give up on myself. Thanks for reminding me that life has a funny way of always placing you precisely where you need to be.

This isn’t the direction I set out on, but I’m so freaking excited to see where it goes.

MPH orientation today

MPH orientation today

In which there’s a phone call

My little brother Graham is the only immediate family in my time zone. Granted he lives 1,223 miles away on a Marine base in southern California, but at least I can pick up the phone at 9pm PST and he’ll be awake to chat.

The last time the four of us were together - at grandmom's 90th birthday in Nashville.

The last time the four of us were together – at grandmom’s 90th birthday in Nashville.

If you’ve met my brother, you’ll know he’s a total goofball. I’m a better pediatric dentist because through him I know all about the Power Rangers, Transformers, Iron Man, the Hulk, Captain America and the rest of the Justice League, Batman, Spiderman and his ultimate favorite, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (seriously, he has a tattoo of them). He likes to call me when he passes the Navy Dental unit to tell me how he’s not getting his teeth cleaned. And for some reason I always end up calling him during his weekly Taco Tuesday dinners on accident. We discuss Shark Week at length. On our calls he is constantly giving me grief by pretending I’m a dental assistant, not a dentist (“oh stop, you just hand people things, right?”). I tell him he’s an idiot; he tells me he hates my bangs. I love all our talks.

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The hardest call to make though every time is right before he deploys for Afghanistan, like the one we had this morning.

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Graham with his service dog Chopper

Love you little brother. I know you don’t read this blog, because your hate for blogs is on par with your hatred for bangs. You and Chopper take care of each other and stay safe. I’ll miss getting to call you whenever I want.

In which I’m not a lady dentist, just a regular dentist

I typically don’t think of myself as a feminist. To clarify, I mean I’m not usually one to be aggressively all “women’s rights!” and “burn all the bras!”. Thanks to the sacrifices and advocacy of our mothers and grandmothers we’re fortunately moving into an enlightened era where I am considered on equal footing with my male colleagues. Usually.

Since I put up a picture of my desk at work, this is my desk at home.

Since I put up a picture of my desk at work, this is my desk at home.

However I tend to slide into feminism when I get placed and labeled as a different category because of my chromosomes and not my abilities.

In dental school I first lived in a small house in the suburban ghetto. It was great and the price was right, but after two break in attempts and one major break in where a lot of my stuff was stolen and trashed I gave up and moved to a cute apartment within walking distance of campus. A couple of my guy classmates helped me lug all the heavy furniture in the morning and in exchange I helped them with their own move between apartments later in the afternoon. Teamwork! Also I think we were procrastinating studying for a radiology final.

When we were moving the last of their boxes in the landlady showed up to do some supervising. As I was struggling under some poorly packed items she asked which one of the guys I was dating. “Oh no ma’am, none of these guys! We’re classmates.” I tried to keep my Oh no to a not horribly disgusted tone. Dating any of these guys would be like dating my brother. Ew. She nodded like that made sense. Later on I overheard her asking some of the boys in the kitchen, “So is the lady going to be a dentist too?”, she seemed incredulous. “Really? Like the dentist doctor? Not the teeth cleaner?”. Nope ma’am, like the lady dentist doctor. You know, I forgave her ignorance – an old lady from the South, it’s almost to be expected. Prejudice dies hard around there. I mean, my deeply southern grandparents still refer to black people as “coloreds”, so I can’t even be surprised.

Since then Jeff has endearingly referred to me as his “lady dentist”.

Old typodont dental models from school

Old typodont dental models from school

A couple of weeks ago I was supervising in the pre-doctoral clinic where we have dental students from the University of Washington come in to do cleanings and exams to learn more about pediatric dentistry. The typical flow involves the pre-doc student treating the patient and then the attending or resident comes and checks everything again to make sure they didn’t miss anything. Kids get impatient, so I try to be ready as soon as the pre-doc is done so I can scoot right in and finish the appointment. As I was getting ready to sit down for one wiggly patient the mom explained to her 5 year old girl why she couldn’t get out of the chair yet, “No wait hunny, the woman doctor needs to look at your teeth.”. Woman doctor. Not just regular doctor. Woman doctor. Like lady dentist. I’m pretty sure no one calls her woman mommy.

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Tooth study models from my first year of dental school. We learn to recreate these in wax so we can learn the anatomy of each one.

Last week I bought a bicycle off of craigslist and the time the seller and I had arranged to meet meant that I needed to go straight from work. When I pulled into her driveway to check out the bike a woman about my age greeted me and then took one look at my scrubs and immediately said, “Oh you must be a nurse”. Way to help the cause sister. If I’m wearing scrubs, couldn’t I easily be a doctor too? We do ourselves a disservice when we make gender imposing assumptions. She could’ve said “Oh you’re in healthcare” or “Oh do you work in the hospital?” just as easily.

Three women, three different generations and in different locations all made similar assumptions. Ladies, we’ve got to be just a little bit better, especially to ourselves. If we’re going to break through any glass ceilings to find completely equal footing with our XY counterparts it’s got to start with us. Most days this is a non-issue and I’m very thankful for that, but it’s that last little smidge we’ve yet to erase that occasionally raises its ugly head and irks me.

I’m not perfect, I catch myself making gender assumptions all the time. I awkwardly trip over police officer instead of policeman. Mail carrier instead of mailman. Firefighter instead of fireman. But I’m trying. I try to talk to little girls about their favorite books or sports, not their favorite dress or shoes. Gender equality is just a muscle that needs to be exercised often enough until it’s second nature. If we do it enough, maybe our daughters won’t have to.

Let’s love and think highly enough of ourselves to do that, okay girls?

In which there was some guerrilla dentistry

I’ve been some cool places to do dentistry, and occasionally it wasn’t always in the most ideal conditions. Sometimes I use the term guerrilla dentistry to describe the incidences when you’ve got to work with what you’ve got to get the job done. You might not have enough gauze, electricity, clean water or light, but with a clear and smart head you can still do a lot of good.

I’ve been in orphanages with the US Army in Moldova:

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Where I first learned to love pediatric dentistry. Click on this picture to go to our blog about it (http://moldova10.blogspot.com)

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Occasionally our power would go out and I’d attached my loupes headlight to the overhead light and we’d keep on working with hand instruments.

To all over rural North Carolina with the Mission of Mercy (MoM) clinics:

Typical set up - our temporary dental stations would be deployed in a gym , church or other community center

Typical set up – our temporary dental stations would be deployed in a gym , church or other community center. Patients often slept outside for days for a chance at free dental care.

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I did a rotation in Asheville in the summer between 3rd and 4th year and one of my dental assistants from the rotation, Karen, came down later that fall to help me out in Sylva, NC. In all I helped in clinics in Dare County, Durham, Hillsborough, New Bern, New London, Sparta, Sylva and Wilmington, NC

To most exotically, Kenya:

Taking out infected teeth for a Maasai woman while her brother-in-law and his wife look on

Taking out infected teeth for a Maasai woman while her brother-in-law and his wife look on. Click on the picture for a link to our blog for this trip (http://siteofrandomness.com/kenya/)

Our clinic here is perfectly equipped to handle most anything that walks through its doors and is one of the most well staffed, well supplied and modern places I’ve ever had the dream of working. Today though I got to break out some of my rotation skills in the resident room:

The bright light is my desk lap that the attending is holding so I can see down his dark mouth hole.

The bright light is my desk lap that the attending is holding so I can see down his dark mouth hole.

One of our attendings bit his tongue badly enough this morning to require sutures. Poor guy! I numbed him up and stitched him back up in one of our nice operatories upstairs, but he was so numb afterwards we tried a reversal agent to get it to wear off faster. I was between patients so we ran down to the resident room to do it just as Bri walked in with a “Do I even want to know?”. She shot this picture for me.

I’m itching to go back out into the bush (definition: wherever there is some pediatric dental care needed) and help out again soon.