Here's something I wrote during the early days of the lockdown, when only emergency dental treatment was allowed. When the pandemic hit, Good Shepherd already had an extraction phone line in place. We were ready to impact vulnerable members of our community at a time of great need. Many people with low income (or no income due to the pandemic) did not know where else to turn.
Here are deidentified excerpts from a few patient notes during that time:
- Pain was excruciating, worse than getting shot (and pt reports he`s been shot 3 times)
- Terrified of getting this virus so did not want to go to dentist, but couldn`t bear it any longer.
- Ran out of ibuprofen two days ago; scared to go buy more bc of the pandemic.
- The only thing that makes it feel better is rinsing with mouthwash, which pt carries in his pocket
- Pain for a few days, then yesterday pain "so bad I thought I was gonna die."
- Pt took antibiotics from feed store and pain went away, then pain returned, then antibiotics from feed store again, then pain returned again
- Can`t do anything with the debilitating pain, can`t work, the pain is constant.
- When it hurts, pain shoots up side of face and eye. "I cry: It hurts that bad, I cry."
Our numbers were down, but our care was intense.
We saw patients with so much pain they:
- stayed awake many nights
- tried to pull their own teeth
- nearly overdosed on ibuprofen and/or tylenol and/or alcohol
- blamed and hated themselves for letting their teeth get like this
- wondered how much longer they could take it before completely giving up.
One patient, Ms. C, told us she was evicted from her apartment shortly before the non-eviction rules. Two days later, her car broke down. Then her mom was in a near-fatal car accident. Ms. C found an overhang to sleep under during a storm, but was sent away because the overhang was on private property. Pandemic closures meant she couldn’t find public restrooms. One bright spot: a local church welcomed her to sleep there while they were closed.
Then her tooth abscessed.
She has extreme dental anxiety and cried while preparing for her treatment. Her tooth came out without complication, and we thanked God together for this!
I continue to thank God, for this and for the many other times we got to help our neighbors when they most desperately needed it. What a great profession we have!
Here's me trying on a faceshield made by a sweet friend out of framing acrylic, electric tape, foam, and ribbons. Fortunately, we received made-for-the-face faceshields about a week later.
In May we couldn't get gowns...
We were so happy to have these!
They were thick, clear plastic bags with arms, just rectangles pieced together. Of course we'd sweat, and the clear bags let everyone see the sweat beading on the inside. We were like terreriums! I lost 5 pounds. We were VERY happy when we got new gowns, and still laugh and laugh about these!
Dr. Jeannie M. Bath