Who am I and what's my story?
Updated: May 19
Hello, my name is Jessica O'Leary and I am so excited you're here.
I am a registered dental hygienist, wife, mom, dog lover and author of 2 books about going to the dentist. I am by nature a talker and have always been told I should write books because I have so much to say and share so I decided, why not!
Well, I wish that was 100% how the story went but life is messy. Life humbles us and builds us up when we least expect it and back down again. My story has more twists and turns than just hearing something then sitting down and doing it. I had been a clinical dental hygienist in a general dental office for 15 years when I spontaneous tore some tendons in my left index finger.
For those of you who like science and details I tore my sagittal band and my extensor indicis in my dominant hand. So what does mean? It means that I couldn't work because my hand was messed up and it required surgery and it may never be the same again and I may never go back to work again!!!!!!!!!!!!! Let the freak out begin! Get me a paper bag because our family lifestyle was build around having two incomes. My independent, multi tasking, get it done personality was so deeply tied to my abilities as a person, wife, mother, dental hygienist, server of others that when I had to ask for help, a part of me died. So I was dead for a few months, yep you are reading the post of a once dead lady, but then I got up. I had goals for each day because it was March 10th when I got hurt so my kids were in school for 7 hours a day so I was home alone. I once challenged myself to vacuum the house and it took 5 hours and I had to rest 3 times and I cried twice. If this sounds crazy, it's because it is. Try using your non dominant hand to vacuum, it's amazing how fatigued your arm gets and how clumsy it is. Well long story short, I found an amazing hand surgeon who was like your grandpa who under no situation was going to give you false hope or dates or deadline of complete and utter recovery. I asked every time I went in to see him before and after surgery for 6 months. He would tell me things were coming along. He told me point blank, my finger may never be what it once was so I should go get a college course catalog and figure out what I'm interested in incase I can't return to clinical dental hygiene. So I did. The truth is that some days are crap and some days are amazing and some days the goal is to get things done and time just ticks away, and some days drag on. However, I had never stopped and asked myself if I couldn't return to work tomorrow, what would I do? Am I alone here? Do other do this self reflecting thing? Well I reflected and decided I would just prefer to heal 100% percent and return to my clinical job THANK YOU VERY MUCH! Well, life had other plans, slow slow plans of healing and rest and reflection.
While getting my kids from summer camp in June with my huge soft cast, wrapped from mid forearm to a few inches past my finger tips rendering me completely one handed, a publisher who I had met years prior at our local roller skating rink approached me. She reminded me of our prior conversation when I was writing with a pencil and a wrinkled piece of paper from the bottom of my bag. It was a story my kids and I had made up. Back story, my kids get car sick, think stomach flu in the car kinda car sick. I had found that if I distracted them, they could make it longer without throwing up and we could go places. In true kid fashion they would remember the stories and when we got in the car again they would say, tell me the story again about the rollerblades or the clouds, and I couldn't always remember. They couldn't either but they were sure my on the spot made up story wasn't the same as we had all created together. So, I decided to write this one down. Anyway, this publisher told me they were looking for some dentist picture books and to write 2-3 of them and send them to her next week.
Does anyone remember monkey bars? Do you remember doing around the world? It was where you lay on your belly and hung over the edge of the bars, reached down and under the bars and flipped off them head first. The key to a successful around the world was to hang on for dear life or you would traumatically fall and get the wind knocked out of you. I was so surprised by this conversation, I wasn't holding on tight and got the wind knocked out of me. I can't remember much but I remember raising my cast and she said something like speak text it or get a headset or come in and her staff can type it out as you tell them the story. WHAT STORY?? WHAT? IS SHE LOOKING AT ME? AM I RESPONDING TO A CONVERSATION? I HAD HELP BRUSHING MY HAIR TODAY AND NOW I'M SUPPOSED TO BE A FANCY WRITER WITH A HEAD SET AND NOT 1 BUT 2-3 STORIES? I think I nodded but who really remembers. So I went home and found the story that the kids and I had written that random day at the roller skating rink. I have since typed it out, without any edits thinking I would frame it. In hind sight, I wish I would have kept the pencil and wrinkled scrap paper version and could frame that. Life is funny how it knocks you down and build you up and then wash and repeat. I hold this story tight with both fully functioning hands today and hopefully till the day I die. ALWAYS BE KIND TO OTHERS, or maybe the moral is TAKE EVERY OPPORTUNITY THAT PRESENTS ITS SELF. Every interactions that happens today, could be a life changing moment tomorrow. You never know how one random event could impact your life and your future. As you can surmise from my website and my intro that I did submit those 2-3 stories and one was picked and edited and illustrated and that is how my first book came to be published.
Thanks for taking time to read my intro and I will be updating my blog with dental hygiene tips and tricks, self care stories and other parenting tips. My goal is that all the struggle and pain points we experience as adults, we teach them to kids not as a struggle, but rather as a normal part of daily routine. If we normalize self care vs. making it something we do as a luxury if and when we have time, our kid's lives will be better off for it.
Till next time
Jessica O'Leary RDH,BS