I first wrote That Deaf Dental Hygienist blog in Feb of 2018. And boy, what a long way I have come to in this career.
While I’ve faced numerous adversity on the job, I’ve relocated to another state where hygiene laws and salary are different.
It has been an adjustment to say the least.
I struggled with the inability to diagnose periodontal disease and administer local anesthesia/nitrous oxide to patients. I struggled with how low Dental Hygienists around here are being paid. Most of all, I struggled with how different people are here in Texas. Towards me as That Deaf Dental Hygienist…
This wasn’t my first encounter with rude patients but it happened very early into my new office I became employed at. I was asked if I had wires in my jaw. I thought I misheard him the first time so I asked him to repeat it again.
“I said do you have wires in your jaw?”
I heard the man correctly. As I was trying to think of right words while being taken aback by his odd question, I was thinking in my head….”Should I have taken out my Invisalign aligners? Did I not speak clearly enough? Did I say something wrong to him?” Then I realized this man was being such a rude jerk. I don’t care if it was 7 o’clock in the morning. I don’t care if you’re already having a bad day. This was not how you treat your provider. You know what I did? I told him who I am. That I was deaf.
“Oh that makes sense.”
I bit my tongue for as long as I could the whole cleaning. It’s an hour long. I literally had tears filling up my thousand dollar loupes, snot steeping through my level three filter mask, hands shaking with anger while I was being careful not to cut his papilla.
I’ve been asked many things but this was a first. I was heated. I was deeply hurt. I did not know how to respond. I don’t think I had enough coffee to even think this through clearly. I had all kinds of crazy thoughts in my head of what I could say to this man. I usually keep it together but I just could not. I wanted to be home in Virginia where I felt safer. Where I knew everyone. Where everyone understood me. But then what was I thinking? People were the same way back home!
I came to realized the more encounters I was having with ill-mannered people, not just here in Texas, but Virginia as well the more I noticed how it seemed to be a pride issue.
Whether you’re deaf like me, have a disability, or new to the field, and even if you don’t have some form of disability but people seem to be disrespectful in many ways…please know this. Write this down. Remember this.
They are simply insecure
Repeat that. Very insecure.
It’s. Not. You.
It may seem heartbreaking at the time to let things roll off your back. It was insanely impossible. I could not keep it together. Don’t let anyone tell you this BS of not letting anyone see you cry. I let that man see my welled up red tears in my eyes and know that he took it home with him with me in the back of his mind.
I didn’t run home to Virginia. I cried it out and pulled myself together for the next patient. I let my staff know he’s not to be on my book at his next recall. I snapped a picture of my welled up face and post it on Instagram. It was the real involvement I wanted the world to know it’s not all glamorous and easy out there for many of us. I take each audacious experience whether it’s been with a former or current coworker or a patient or something that’s happened at hygiene school, keep turning every experience slowly into a positive. It takes years. Let everything beat you down and you will come out stronger than you were.
I truly love my job as a hygienist. I’ve grown so much, have learned so much and become a better hygienist day by day. A deaf hygienist. It doesn’t even bother me nowadays the major adjustments I’ve had to deal with here in Texas. I not only know I’m educating my patients on oral health but also inclusiveness in a way. That there are highly deaf educated professionals out there. This. Should. Not. Shock. You.
So many people ask me to this day, how do you do it? Read that last sentence in the paragraph from the last. Take it from the day you came into this world. Take the beating.