I Love Smiles

I Love Smiles

We’ve been here for a little bit and the dust has settled. My father-in-law is doing OK. He remembers me most of the time, but I’m usually the first one he loses recollection of, which makes sense. We are all choosing to focus on the good days and hold on to those for now.

I am working on securing a location to open up my own practice—it just seemed like a good choice after leaving the old surgery. It is like a promotion this way, or at least that’s what I am telling myself. The pay isn’t going to be as good, especially not at the beginning, but at least the cost of living won’t be so bad. And there’s no mortgage to speak of, so that’s something.

We are trying to treat this part of the trip like a weird, prolonged vacation—going out and sightseeing, trying to enjoy everything we can. But I’ve missed working. I love my job, and I know that isn’t something that everyone gets to say. So being away from that has been difficult. As selfish as it is to say, that’s probably the hardest thing for me about being here.

I like helping people, that’s all there is to it. When a parent comes to me with a child who has a cleft palate and I know that I can make everything better, that is an awesome feeling. Seeing that child smile—actually smile—for the first time is the greatest sight ever.

It’s the same no matter what the cause for me—accidents, injuries, birth defects, disease. I don’t care if you got punched in the jaw or if you dipped so much that your jaw basically rotted away. I don’t look at the why of it, that isn’t my job. My job is the how. How are we going to fix it, how are we going to get you back to you? How people look does have a significant impact on how they feel about themselves. Especially their face. It is how others identify you, and how you identify yourself. When the person staring back at you from the mirror no longer is the person you picture in your head, it can be hard to deal with.

And I can make it better. I can’t always get you back to you 100% of the way, but sometimes I get pretty darn close. It has been so rewarding for me, and to not have that right now has been difficult. I’m in a strange country where I’m not completely fluent in the language, away from my own family, and I really struggle with that. I am really glad that I am moving forward with opening my own surgery. I need to be able to put my skills to good use, I need to feel like I can improve life for someone. As much help as we are providing to my mother-in-law, we’re not doing any good for Tamara’s dad. What he has is something that in all my years of schooling, I have learned only one thing: that is it only going to get worse.