The other week, while we were having dinner at home, we found out that my dad's old security detail got into an accident while cleaning his motorcycle that cost him his thumb. My mom delivered the initial details in hysterics and we all thought he cut his hand, but we sighed a minuscule air of relief when we confirmed the loss of just one thumb--the one on the right hand.
Almost immediately, we began counting the many things Mang Jun wont be doing anymore (or have a hard time with) given the disability. Can he still drive? Can he fire his gun? Will he be forced to go on early retirement? How will he eat? Can he ride the motorcycle? Will writing be difficult now? Will he get a desk job now? Well, a thumb is one of five on each hand, but it is a crucial one. So although we are grateful that it was all that he lost---it sure, would be best if he still a complete set of five fingers, right?
As I continued to think of the catastrophe, I suddenly realized the value of my own hands. Not that it is more valuable than others (than yours), but as a dentist, understand that I would be "nothing" without them. While other senses are essential for my work, the ability to move my hands is what makes everything possible. I need my hands to hold instruments and manipulate structures in the mouth. I need my hands to help patients and I will be rendered useless, without them.
Dentistry is the perfect marrying of theoretical and practical skill. Back in school, they made us go through a lot to make sure our hands are ready for the battle. We drew and colored the skeletal system of cats, sharks, humans; we carved teeth anatomy on waxes like real sculptors, making sure we got every curve and pit that perfectly differentiates teeth from each other; we are asked to complete a list of clinical requirements (within a time limit)--the work of our hands scrutinized and graded in the most grueling step-by-step fashion by overly critical instructors. In the six years before we earn the degree and title, our hands are put to the test. They are trained to perform and that is what I do, day in and day out in the clinic. I let my hands perform what my mind deems fit for the well being of the patient. If I lose my hands, even just one (even just a finger), I sincerely wouldn't know what to do.
The Dentist's Hands
My uncle (the one who was the dentist before me and the reason why I became one) used to man the fireworks display committee during New Year's Eve. He and the boys would usually go overboard, even with the loud firecrackers but that all stopped when he became a serious dentist. A profession wasted, if he loses his hands, we're now more into the light display rather than loud exploding spectacles.
The loss of Mang Jun's thumb made him cry like a baby. When my mom received the call from his sister, she mentioned that he was bawling. I would be the same, I can only imagine. The drama queen will go on all sorts of emotional acrobatics until I fully come to terms with my brand new life. I'm sure it wont be easy. I fear early onset arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome. I fear all kinds of misfortune that could fall onto my hands because once a upon a time I wished to become a dentist and I wouldn't know what to do if I am told that I can no longer be one.
For now, I remain grateful that my hands are perfect---slightly rough and calloused (a little veiny too) but fully functional in the clinic and for extra-curricular activities such as coloring and Clash of Clans. Haha! Stay safe everyone!!!