Fight the Stigma: A New Article on Medium

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Our culture maintains a stigma around mental health. It is up to each of us to start open conversations, to say the stigma is not okay.

CLICK HERE to read the latest article on Medium.

© 2019 Mirissa D. Price: A Dental Student, A Writer, A Journey to Share.

#HumansofASDA

With a simple smile, we can all make a difference. I am so honored to be considered for this #HumansofASDA series, and to learn of all that inspires my incredible dental colleagues to contribute in so many unique ways.

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Do you have a unique inspiration for contributing to the community? Do you aspire to “be the change”? Let us know how in the comments below! Your story can inspire others.

© 2018 Mirissa D. Price: A Dental Student, A Writer, A Journey to Share.

This One Story Will Transform Your Day, if not your life

Hey there!

Whatever you are doing right now, stop. Pull up a chair; put on those reading glasses. Maybe grab a cup of tea. Let’s just have a chat, friend-to-friend.

I know; I know. We barely know one another. I’m a dental student typing from Boston, Massachusetts, you’re a blogger off on the other side of the country, if not the world. But trust me. This moment matters.

Because I want to tell you a story from not too long ago; in fact, this was just a few days over a week ago. Iarrived in clinic ready to meet a new patient; we’ll call her Lailah. She was 5’7 and calm, and really just wanting relief from her pain. When she sat down beside me, so much was going wrong – in her medical condition, in her dental health – but she was just so optimistic.

 

“I’m getting ready for Thanksgiving,” she told me, describing her large family. “I don’t want to be in pain on the holiday.”

 

“I don’t want you in pain, either,” I answered, reading her radiographs. “Let’s see what we can do together before then.”

 

Lailah let me know about a few of her medical conditions, the cancer for which she was receiving treatment, the congenital heart disease that didn’t seem to worry her cardiologist any longer, the hypothyroidism that seemed to be under control. Through her full story, she was radiating with the warmth of a smile.

 

“I promise,” I told Lailah, “to do what I can to move your treatment forward in time for the holidays. We can’t do everything by then, but we’ll work together here.”

 

The minute Lailah left my office, the work began.

 

I called every doctor she named, spoke to every dental advisor I could reach. I carefully, and with haste, developed her treatment plan, and prepared for the next stages of her care. And when I spoke with her oncologist, my heart sank.

 

“Lailah has 6 months to live,” her oncologist boldly introduced. “One year at most. Unless we find the cure for her type of cancer in the next year, I want you to understand, we are not doing normal dentistry here. Extract the infected teeth. We start chemo on the first.”

Now take a deep breath for me, perhaps a moment pause. I’m not telling you this story to catch your breath. And my intention is certainly not educational, though I can’t help but notice just how impactfully this story demonstrates the intersection of medicine and dentistry.

But I am sharing this story with a goal.

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When Lailah and I met, I knew her care was important. I knew her healthy smile mattered. It’s the same approach I have with each and every patient in my chair. Even if my job is to simply guide the patient to a specialist or someone who can offer the needed attention, I give my time, heart, and growing knowledge and experience to that patient. Every patient matters.

Knowing Lailah was going to die didn’t make her matter any more or any less. She was still a patient. She was always important.

And, in so many ways, she reminded me of what really matters:

  • The opportunity to share the warmth of your smile with everyone around you, even the dental student you just met.
  • The gift of spending the holidays out of pain and in the embrace of family.
  • The hope that our actions today will make for a better world tomorrow.
  • The faith that everything will be okay.
  • The courage to move forward no matter what weight follows us from our pasts.
  • And the joy of knowing we have made an impact in this world, whether within our own families and communities or on a larger scale. We have mattered.

In Kabbalah, in Jewish tradition, Lailahel is an angel, one who comes to the world with a message to share. My patent, Lailah, is just that, sharing with us, each day, her beautiful messages of hope, faith, and gratitude. This holiday season, let us all try to have a touch of an angel – a touch of gratitude and optimism – in our hearts and minds. No matter what has happened today or this year, all that matters is now, and how, even with a simple smile, we can choose to make a true difference,

All names, characters, business, places, events, and incidents have been changed for privacy. As a compilation of many patient experiences, any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.  

© 2017 Mirissa D. Price: A Dental Student, A Writer, A Journey to Share.

Here’s what really matters…

Comedy can be rather simple. Really! Because the key to success in almost any scene is to define a relationship. Who are you to the other person? How does the other person make you feel? How do you feel about him/her?

And how are you going to COMMUNICATE all of that so that your partner on stage and your audience in the crowd know what’s going through your head?

You could use body language, action, perhaps simply words. The choice is yours, and the choice lets the other person know that this moment really matters.

Just today, in fact, my partner in crime and I exchanged our excitement for working together by smashing the top-secret computers in our spy headquarters. We knew right then and there how much we each valued this precious moment. (Granted, this was all in an improvised world, and smashing computers isn’t exactly what I have in mind for the day-to-day, but you get the idea).

And the truth of this lesson doesn’t end on the comedy stage.

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Imagine if, passing your neighbor, you stopped and told that person how much it means to see her smile on the stairs. Imagine if, while sitting on the bus, the man whose name you can’t recall tells you how much he enjoys these 6 a.m. conversations over speed bumps. Imagine if we told the people who impact our lives just that: you make a difference in my day. Imagine if we reminded others why this moment with them is important.

It only takes a second to pause and reflect on the relationship. It only takes the truth to make an impact. It only takes you to make a difference on another person’s day.

For more improv comedy lessons, take your turn on stage with classes. Might I recommend ImprovBoston in Cambridge, MA? Or, if you live in Colorado, check out Voodoo Comedy and Grafenberg Productions. You’re in for a great time!

© 2017 Mirissa D. Price: A Dental Student, A Writer, A Journey to Share.

Your Voice Can Change The World

I climbed into the back seat of a red sedan recently, beside a woman in her mid-thirties with curly blonde hair. The driver, a middle-aged man whose name I couldn’t pronounce, verified my identity, replied to my buoyant greetings, and then the car went silent. Driving to the woman’s drop-off point in Brookline Village, the only sounds I heard were the horns and sirens filling Boston’s streets. Respecting her silence – she was in the car first – I only offered her a smile, but from the minute she left the car, the driver and I were in constant laughter and conversation. “You know, where I come from,” the driver said, turning onto my street, “we laugh like this with all our neighbors. You don’t see that in the States.”

The next morning, I took the bus. There, too, all I heard was silence. One man was on his laptop, a handful on their cellphones. Nearly everyone wore headphones. But no two people said much more than ‘hello’ aloud. In my thoughts, I whispered, “I wonder what my Uber driver would say.”

Hours later, in the basement of the dental school, I was again in the thick of silence. Granted, this time, I was alone. But, as a special surprise, Allen came walking in, a slight limp in his step. Allen was the air conditioner maintenance man, the regular for the dental school building. Though I had never seen him before, I pulled out my own headphones and smiled his direction. Accepting the invitation, Allen sat down. He told me his story. He told me his jokes. And he told me I must not be from the East, because I was much too conversational. “People keep to themselves out here,” he ended, moving on with his day.

We live in a busy world. People have place to go, tasks to complete. Students and businessmen alike use the bus or the cab or a moment alone to finish their work.  We, too, live in a world that’s afraid. Don’t talk to strangers. Don’t upset the other riders with your chatter. Don’t break the norm.

But are we really too busy to meet a new person? Are we really so afraid that we choose to live in silence? Are we really so connected that we can’t handle a greater community?

Sitting on the silent bus, I wondered whether some sort of a ‘chat prompt’ game would encourage conversation. We were already surrounded by positive messages on sticky notes in this uplifting bus. Maybe a set of game-like rules would encourage connection in the way the sticky notes encouraged positivity?

In actuality, though, I stuck to the rules. Thinking of the norms of the bus, I, too, waited until my stop to say hello to a man I see each day. I, too, upheld the silence. And, in doing so, I probably missed the opportunity to hear an incredible story or to share a smile with a workplace neighbor. In doing so, I too  too, contributed to the absence of community that my uber driver and my new friend, Allen, experience in this Western world.

And I started to wonder: Are these positive messages scattered on sticky notes – ‘You are beautiful.’ ‘You are worthwhile.’ ‘You are valued.’ – really what we need? In the absence of connection, how could these messages mean anything?

  • To tell someone he is valued is to allow him to add a moment of laughter or joy to your day.
  • To tell a neighbor she is beautiful is to look up with a smile instead of looking down at your smartphone.
  • To make a difference is to make a sound, starting with a ‘hello’ on a bus or a ‘good afternoon’ in an Uber.

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My challenge for all of us is to start making this difference in the world today. Our challenge is to start making a wave of sound.

© 2017 Mirissa D. Price: A Dental Student, A Writer, A Journey to Share.

 

Make Your Mark

STAMP

We all have a chance to change the world.  With a simple act of kindness, a single pain-free smile, we can be that difference.  So what are you waiting for?  Design your stamp.  Become that difference.

I can’t wait to see what shape your ink holds!

© 2016 Mirissa D. Price: A Dental Student, A Writer, A Journey to Share.