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A Little Unusual

May 1, 2000
The mail department at RDH magazine (which usually consists of the editor) is grateful that there`s nothing horrifying about opening the mail for the magazine. Hygienists don`t mail in insect collections or the specific leaves that transmitted poison ivy to their daughters during the summer. Although dental manufacturers likely receive "used," defective products in the mail from displeased customers, no one has asked RDH to overcome nausea while handling or examining something that needs to be e

We`ve gotten some letters and photographs that kind of defy gravity.

The mail department at RDH magazine (which usually consists of the editor) is grateful that there`s nothing horrifying about opening the mail for the magazine. Hygienists don`t mail in insect collections or the specific leaves that transmitted poison ivy to their daughters during the summer. Although dental manufacturers likely receive "used," defective products in the mail from displeased customers, no one has asked RDH to overcome nausea while handling or examining something that needs to be entombed and routed to a hazardous waste site. Dr. Joen Haring`s slides for the Case Study column are the closest we wish to get to retrieving items from an envelope with a pair of tweezers.

That`s not to say that the mail for RDH doesn`t get interesting. This month, we share some letters and/or photographs that intrigued us because they were unusual. These hygienists definitely march to a different tune than the rest of us.

> Kathryn Marcotte sent RDH a handful of photos. A couple of them showed her working in Dr. Gary Stein`s office in Coral Springs, Fla. A third one showed her at a hockey game. She likes the professional team, the Florida Panthers, and she was hamming it up with the club`s mascot, Stanley C. Panther. Then she wrote, "The other two are self-explanatory."

We remain dubious about whether hurtling through the sky is ever self-explanatory, but there`s little question about the exhilaration Marcotte (a 1995 graduate of Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester, Mass.) must feel while sky diving. "What a thrill," she said. "It`s my way of jumping into the millennium."

> If Vicki Buchwald informed you that she had a telescope, you probably would not envision the one out in her front yard, would you? Despite any thought that one huge telescope would be enough, she and her husband, Glen, actually own "several telescopes of varying sizes." Glen introduced her to the pastime of astronomy nine years ago.

"The views can be of big, bright, spectacular objects within our galaxy or distant, dim objects outside our Milky Way," she wrote. "Seeing a cluster of little `smudges` in the telescope at first may seem unimpressive until you realize each small `smudge` is an individual galaxy! It puts things into a different perspective."

Currently practicing in Crystal Lake, Ill., Buchwald is a native of Omaha, Neb., and she attended Wisconsin`s Marquette University, graduating in 1983. She`s not shy about bringing the universe into the operatory.

"The best part of hygiene is interacting with patients," she said. "Often, I talk about astronomy and what planets and constellations are visible in the night sky, or upcoming events such as meteor showers.

"I tell patients how the telescope is similar to a time machine in that the light of the object you are looking at took tens or hundreds of thousands of years to reach us. Therefore, you see the object the way it was that many years ago.

"I also enjoy sharing views with others at public outings. It makes me smile when I hear people react to their first look at Saturn, the Andromeda Galaxy, or the Orion Nebula."

> We`re guessing that, at best, only a handful of American dental hygienists have stood on the Great Wall of China. As pictured, Lisa Moisan of Hollywood, Fla., can make this claim. Moisan said, "I love to travel, and being a dental hygienist allows me to do so." She studied dental hygiene in Quebec at College de Trois-Rivieres from 1993 to 1996. "One of my dreams is to work as a hygienist in Europe."

> The photograph of Kathy Kline Pirolozzi, Renee Taylor, and Jamie Hederson definitely tries to make a point. But RDH would like to make a point first. In their letter to the magazine, they wrote that they work for Drs. Thomas Graham and Jay Maxfield in Canton, Ohio, "right down the street from the Football Hall of Fame." Secondly, Hederson owns two Boston Terriers - the official dog of RDH magazine. These three women know how to get the attention of the RDH editor.

But back to their photograph. They work as hygienists in the same dental office in Canton - the garden behind them lies in the middle of the office complex. Pirolozzi has been practicing for 25 years, and she`s the one with the helmet, indicating that a weekend motorcycle ride around nearby Malvern is not out of the question. Hederson, who we already know has a pretty full plate caring for those Bostons, also plays, coaches, and officiates volleyball. She has been practicing dental hygiene for eight years. Taylor gardens at her home in nearby Dover. When not growing vegetables, she is raising two kids under four years of age - Jackie and Chris.

"Even though we have different lives outside the office, we share dental hygiene as an interesting career," they said in their letter.

> Pirolozzi has a kindred spirit in Rosemary Kuhnle of Madison, Wis. We liked Kuhnle`s comparison of the profession with motorcycles. We envision a new book titled, "Dental Hygiene and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance." Kuhnle wrote, "After a long, hard day, I enjoy exchanging my scrubs for motorcycle gear. I took up riding in the summer of 1999. To me, riding my cycle and dental hygiene has a lot in common. I find both exciting and self-rewarding. I remember my first day in the dental office and the first time on my bike. All I could think was, `Wow! I can`t believe I am really doing this."

Kuhnle is a 1998 graduate of Madison Area Technical College.

> And Kuhnle has a kindred spirit in Susie Snider of Madison, Tenn. Snider, who has been practicing since 1983, wrote, "My recreational endeavors are a bit unusual. Our favorite family activities - children included - are backpacking, rollerblading, mountain biking, snow skiing, and dirt biking." Her photograph, of course, reflects the latter pastime.

Snider has two children and has worked for a periodontist in Nashville for the last 10 years. She observed, "It has been such a blessing to work in a profession which allows the latitude to have such a rich, rewarding, and rare lifestyle."

Her postscript noted, "I forgot to mention the house my husband and I are building with our own four hands, and with a little help from our friends." RDH presumes the blueprint includes space for the dirt bikes.

> When we looked at the photograph of Holly Scott, we tried to remember the last time we climbed over anything higher than a workbench. Scott, who has been practicing dental hygiene for five years, was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Michigan Army National Guard in 1998. She spends one weekend a month and two weeks a year performing dental exams for fellow soldiers.

Scott, who resides in Southfield, Mich., currently is in dental school at the University of Detroit Mercy. She expects to receive her doctorate in May 2002.

> When voters in Chico, Calif., received campaign literature from Maureen Kirk, they noted the following "personal" information: One, Kirk has resided in Chico since 1981; two, she has a bachelor`s of science degree from the University of Washington; three, she`s a registered dental hygienist ... We`d like to think that last detail, of course, explains why Kirk was elected to the Chico city council in November 1998 for a four-year term. RDH is under no illusions about what Kirk`s real priorities in life are, but we couldn`t help but notice that her career was listed above her family and church in both pieces of campaign literature that she sent us. She`s definitely proud of dental hygiene.

She wrote to us that the birth of her son Brian 14 years ago prompted her to cut back on the hours devoted to her career. She then slowly migrated toward "politics" the old-fashioned way - by getting involved with the community. Here`s her description of how dental hygiene, small-town politics, and motherhood sort of blend together very nicely.

"I became involved in PTA and school-based activities. Subsequently, I met some very interesting people and became active in the Boys and Girls Club of Chico, as well as some local environmental causes. I became a member and chair of the Bidwell Park and Playground Commission. Because of my dental hygiene career, I was able to work 21/2 days per week, work on my volunteer activities, and have plenty of time for our son. I became more active and decided to run for city council. I was elected in November 1998. My dental hygiene career offers me flexible hours and plenty of contact with the local citizens. My patients are more than comfortable to express their views on local politics."

RDH wishes more politicians would exhibit more signs of growing alongside a community.

> RDH also liked the anecdotes about community involvement from Sandra Golay in Twin Falls, Idaho. Capping a long career that started with the first dental hygiene class at Idaho State University 35 years ago, Golay is current president of the Idaho Dental Hygienists? Association and practices three days a week for Dr. Tim Thompson. In recent years, she and her husband have been involved with the booster club for the College of Southern Idaho.

OI am often in the company of student athletes,O she wrote. OI have served two years as president of the CSI booster club. My husband and I have been a booster family for many students, whether they are from the United States or a foreign country.O

She explained that, in the photograph that she sent to RDH, someone had coaxed her out from behind the camera. She was supposed to be the official photographer for a collegiate golf tournament.

> Romance on the Internet has had its share of critics. But we were touched by a note received from Mindy Heller. She has been practicing for three years in the Westfield, N.J., area. She wrote to us about working in two offices in Westfield and how she graduated from Pennsylvania College of Technology. She mentioned that she enjoyed snorkeling, horseback riding, and heading over to New York City for fun activities. Then she wrote:

OMy other hobby and addiction is the computer! As a matter of fact, that?s how I met my husband. Yes, we?re an AOL love connection. We got married on July 25, 1999, and couldn?t be happier.O RDH extends its best wishes to the couple, and we?re glad to see a happy ending to a Web romance.

> Penny Lanham of Oak Ridge, Tenn., also wrote us a nice letter. She explained how she was a Red Cross volunteer when she started chatting with a dental hygienist one day. Intrigued by the possibilities, she did not let caring for two young sons stop her from returning to school, and she graduated in 1995. OIt took me a while to take that step of going back to school after all those years, but I?m glad I did. I love being a hygienist. Going to work is not like work at all.O

So what?s unusual about Lanham? We were just amused by her description of her private life. OMy hobby is fishing. I could fish from daylight to dark. I wear my family out with it.O RDH is thinking of going fishing soon. We know who to call for advice on lures

Next month, RDH will share some insights from hygienists who have made interesting career moves.

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Marcotte: It`s self-explanatory

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Buchwald: A smudge on the lens

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Moisan: Has anyone else been to the Wall?

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Pirolozzi, Taylor, Hederson: Bostons and the `Hall`

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Kuhnle, Snider: Zen and the art of dental hygiene

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Scott: What`s the lieutenant doing up there?

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Kirk: Will chat about zoning laws

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Lanham: Tae-Bo meets fishing

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Golay: Three cheers for CSI

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Heller: Happiness is a Web soulmate