George D.McDiffett - Colonal Heights, Virginia
Colonal Heights, Virginia
Dear Ms. Rollins :
I am pleased to write to say that the services you and the gracious dentists associated with your organization have provided my brother, Doug, are no less than a true miracle in the outlook, appearance and renewed pride my brother feels.
Once the year of waiting went by after his initial application for help in getting comprehensive dental work done, you contacted him and, from there, it was swift, professional, and extremely kind and non-judgmental care that he received from Dr. Poonum Bharal and the entire staff at Baxter Perkinson's dental practice. The offer of free care insinuated to me that it may be inferior care. Not so. This charitable work is QUALITY care of the highest standard - equal to that given to a cash paying patient. It was a mere two weeks from his initial consultation that his extractions of twenty one rotting teeth, fitting for dentures and, finally, placement of them.
At his denture placement/surgical extraction visit, I walked to the room he was in to help him to the car after having had a procedure requiring an anesthetic. When he was able to stand and turn to me, I was surprised that my knees felt weak and I had a sudden urge to cry (I am not known to cry in public). I grabbed the wall for support and did cry in utter joy for him. My gratitude to the doctor and her assistant could not be expressed adequately but it is my hope that my weak knees demonstrated some of it to them. The weather was brutally hot that day. As we gingerly strode to the car, it simply was not apparent to me. Nothing surrounding me mattered - but the utter gladness I felt coming from and saw in my brother, in his post-sedated state, as we walked.
My brother has been mentally ill since onset at the age of 25yo. I have remained close by as a caregiver since that time and have witnessed the terrible physical deterioration that comes with methods and efforts to fix and help those with mental illness. In our country, mental health has (in my 62 years of life) been on the back burner in our society's vision of health care. If it were solely up to our for-profit insurance companies and majority of our lawmakers, the word "Asylum" and the buildings it was once printed upon would still exist. If it were not for those who fought HARD to stop this, during my lifetime, my brother would be relegated to a bed and tethered to it behind those walls. My country, the USA, has had a reputation in their judgment of human healthcare of not finding the good and bad workings of our most precious bodily organ, the brain, being worthy of care equal to the care given to all of the other organs malfunctioning in our bodies. We have imparted 'shame' on any human who has a brain that does not function as it should. The psychiatric community has done their best over the years to alleviate this - sometimes to a fault in using these people as laboratories on a whim. Still, I feel their dedication has conquered it well.
As you can well see, I remain devoted to seeing that my brother's entire body gets the care it requires. When other parts of his body are broken as a direct result of his brain illness, there are not enough funds, insurance provisions or advocates who understand his plight of loneliness, related physical illness( brought on by massive amounts of medication); as well as being ostracized from society and often feared due to gross ignorance or lack of knowledge. Once exposed, the mentally ill are swiftly lacerated from society without a second thought, as lepers once were. Most recently, the N.R.A. is using these people as their `go-to' underhanded marketing tool to protect their 2nd Amendment rights. This, while we are all aware that weapons to kill are used by all walks of life for their own reasons of protection or hatreds. In the last and only recent ten years, our country and its representatives are making strides in the right direction where Doug and others who are mentally different are concerned.
Your organization has helped a person with mental illness that desperately needed teeth again - as a result of his mental illness and not simply because of many years of poor dental hygiene, poor eating habits, genetics or respect for the care of their mouth.
Doug has a way to masticate again. Food is no longer a foe. He looks forward to eating a good steak in public! I can toast his artisan bread now and not cut the crust off! His renewed sense of pride is glowingly evident. His confidence in public situations is new and rewarding to him. Frankly, being with him from the time he steps through my door or anyone else's is simply rewarding for those who have known him because of his bright step and happiness in his appearance that he has not felt in years.
The actual word -smile" has new meaning for him. The first few days after getting his teeth, I joked that he had a 'chimpanzee' smile and needed to work on it.
Just imagine this: He now has to practice re-using the muscles in his upper face to simply smile and show his upper teeth because these muscles have not been used in over 40-years - to hide his lack of teeth. He has been a proud and handsome man all of his life. He is practicing. Oh, yes, he is practicing what has, for him, only been a 'memory' of an open mouth, gleeful, knee-slapping laugh smile- long unused.
While my brother has been living on the disability payments from his prior work years before his diagnosis all those years past, we never, ever thought that he would regain the ability to eat, smile or even cherish owning a toothbrush and oral hygiene products again. His income (and those around him) and health insurers prevented the thought.
There are Doctors w/o Borders. I knew that. When I began searching for charitable help for his mouth, I doubted I would find it. There was help for small or acute work in the gymnasium environment that is so wonderful but did not meet his need. The internet is a gift. It brought me to YOU and your organization and its dentists brought to HIM true joy and pride again that are literally, well - indescribable. I hope I have been able to express it as best I can in this letter of thanks to all of you.
Jane M. Burchett (for George Douglas McDiffett)