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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Daughter's Dental Adventure

Most people who care much about Dear Daughter's oral surgery already have heard how it all went, but nonetheless, I'll share the highlights along with some post-op Zoe-isms.

We had to pull her out of bed at 5:30 am on Friday morning. While that may be the norm for some kids and families, it's not for ours. Since I tend to work "late" a couple times a week (which means I get home between 8pm and 8:30pm) the kids don't go to bed very early. They are natural night owls anyway. We are doing good if they are tucked in and nodding off by 9:30 pm. That means they are not usually up until 8 am or so. And me? I don't like to get up until 7:00 - 7:30 am. Even on those days I work away from home I don't get up early. It goes against my nature. I spent many years getting up by 6 am, but if I don't have to, I don't. Since I don't usually have clients who want to schedule before 10 am and I am still doing appointments some nights until 8 pm, this works for us. Except when we have to get up before the roosters for oral surgery. Daughter bounced out of bed excited that she was going to lose a tooth. I tried not to project my pessimism and anxiety on to her as I yawned every 30 seconds and tried to get my eyes to open up.

They wanted us there by 6:15am. Apparently the only purpose of this was to ensure they got their money out of us, as they didn't take us back for pre-op consult until nearly 7:00. By 7:05 they were escorting Daughter down a hall to "blow up an elephant balloon." I watched her skip alongside the dental assistant as the double doors closed behind her, and I felt a bit like a traitor. They told her the balloon thing so she wouldn't be afraid to take the gas before they administered the general anesthetic, but she never got the see the balloon. She later told me she remembers sitting on a counter and blowing up the balloon and the "doctors" were all crowded around her watching.

I tried to read a book in the waiting area as news of the recent shooting on an Illinois college campus and political news clips of Hillary and Barrack played on the t.v. in the background. I even had a cup of coffee, which is most unusual for me-especially if it is not accompanied by chocolate cake. It was almost peaceful. Then a most unruly bunch swarmed through the door. A set of grandparents, a mother, and two unruly kids. The kids were six and four. I learned this from Grandpa, who was a most chatty old chap. He didn't pick up on social clues, like the fact that Husband and I were not inviting small talk as we both had our noses buried in books trying to ignore the chaos they brought in with them.

The six-year-old boy and four-year-old girl bounced off the walls, ripped toys out of each other's hands, chased each other about the 12' by 14' lobby, hit and kicked each other, and screamed loudly. I whispered to Husband that I now think our two wee ones are absolute angels. I made some silent stereotypical judgments about this family. I kinda hate to admit that, but I did. You see, I work with families like this. There have been times in my career that families like this made up 98% of my client load. I can peg them in a split second even if I try not to stereotype or be judgmental. They were dressed in mismatched clothing and looked a bit unkempt. No one's hair was brushed except for the grandparents. I smelled the faint odor of cigarettes and dirty hair. The kids, as I've already described, were completely undisciplined and out of control. I think Grandpa was missing a few teeth. It screamed of Welfare at its best.

Then the receptionist tried to scream over the racket and inquired when was the last dose of Adderrall little Johnny Joe had. Before his mother even commented that it had been two days ago, I had already diagnosed him with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and was thinking he was due for a dose of his meds. Then the mother went to the counter flashing her V.I.P. Welfare card to pay the tab in full on her behalf while Grandpa continued not picking up on the cues that Husband and I were not interested in a chat. He proudly told us all about his 22 grandchildren and that number 23 was on the way. I bit my tongue as I continued to add up the stereotypical Welfare family characteristics in my head. We, of course, paid cash for Daughter's pricey procedure. We upper middle class folk go uninsured while we involuntarily pay into the Welfare program for those who pop out 23 kids into their families and never pay a red cent for their prenatal care, delivery, or ongoing medical and dental costs. But we don't have dental insurance for our selves. I'll be honest and admit that we could buy our family dental insurance if we really wanted to, but the cost we would have to pay for the premiums would outweigh its benefits for us. It's the same reason that we carry bare bones major medical policies. The premiums are outrageous, and to get a policy that would provide reasonable benefits and deductibles, we'd probably have to sell our entire estate and shack up in a trailer next door the Welfare family we met in the oral surgeon's office. The thing is, they'd still be better off than us, as all other things being equal, they'd still get their state Welfare V.I.P. free passes while we'd be draining our every hard earned cent to pay for our private insurance policies.

...Wow. So that was a tangent I didn't expect to put out there. But it was cathartic, so I think I'll just leave it there instead of deleting it.

At 7:05 am the doc approached us in the waiting area to tell us all went well. Daughter got to keep her two front baby teeth as the offending extra tooth was far enough back that the other teeth didn't need to be extracted to get to it. I was very relieved. Daughter did fine coming out of anesthesia. She didn't even cry like they prepared us to expect. At least she didn't cry until several minutes later when she was cognizant enough to realized that her lip was numb. Then she freaked out and cried for about 30 minutes until she passed out in the car for another 20 minutes. She woke up in a much better mood and excitedly exclaimed, "Hey! I think my lip isn't so dim anymore!" She, of course, meant "numb." After an hour or so on the couch watching a video, she was dancing around the house her old self again. She never even needed any pain medication, which amazed me especially when I took a closer look and realized that what they did was cut the gums on either side of her two upper front teeth and pull back her upper palate nearly an inch to get that backwards and upside down extra tooth out of there. That tooth, by the way, was quite large. I was amazed at its size and can see why it would cause lots of trouble if we hadn't discovered it this soon. We started taking our kids to the dentist by about a year and half of age. I highly recommend this to people, and I am always shocked when I hear people say their 6 or 7 year old children have still never been to the dentist!

Recovery was pretty non-eventful except for the fact that I grew a little faint as I tried to comfort Daughter and I saw the blood in her mouth while the dental assistant was simultaneously talking in my ear describing the procedure they had completed and giving post-op instructions. I felt myself go pale and get dizzy and faint and I had to interrupt her to sit down. Then the anesthesiologist and assistants were crowding around me to make sure I was okay. I was embarrassed and wanted them to give their attention to my daughter as I sat there with my head between my legs. Yes, I did survive two C-sections to bring children into this world. I still don't know how I made it through that (TWICE), though.

As Daughter ate her second popsicle after lunch, I said to her, "Getting that tooth out didn't go quite like you expected, did it?" and Daughter shrugged and replied, "It's okay. I don't care." and she went back to licking her popsicle.

When I took off Daughter's clothes for a bath that evening, we discovered the three electrode stickers still stuck to her chest. Daughter was quite concerned about these, and they did not want to pull off easily. I told her to soak in the bath awhile and that would likely loosen them up. When it didn't, I reassured Daughter that we would call Grandma (a Registered Nurse) for some tips on how to get them off. Her advice? "Rip them off really fast." So I was hoping for something a little better than that, but I followed her advice, much to Daughter's chagrin. She fussed more about that than she did about anything else related to the whole procedure.

While Daughter was in the bath we discussed her procedure at a bit more length, and I must have referred to it as "surgery," as Daughter grew intrigued and said, "You mean I had SURGERY?!" When I told her yes, she said, "But what did they have to DO to get my tooth out?" Before I could answer, she said, "Wait! I don't really want to know, do I?" I told her she probably didn't, and that was the end of that conversation.

Today was the first time she has fussed much at all since coming out of the anesthetic. She was upset when she finally discovered she could feel a stitch with her tongue. The two stitches that were noticeable had been on either side of her front teeth and you could see them from the outside. She had apparently been playing with the stitches with her tongue enough that the knot on one of them had migrated behind her teeth to the top of he mouth, and she was most upset about this. It probably wouldn't have happened if there hadn't been some attention on her at church this morning about the whole ordeal, causing her to put more attention on the condition of her mouth.

While everything went quite well, I would be quite satisfied if we never had to go through another oral surgery of any kind in our house ever again.


Student of Life said...

Wow! Glad to hear she's OK. I think I probably would have felt faint as well. I'm expecting to have a similar experience somewhere down the road. We're going to the pediatric dentist for the first time in a couple of weeks. My kiddo already has crooked bottom baby teeth. There's not going to be enough room for big ones. Forget college fund. Our dental fund is going to have to be bigger.

Anonymous said...

It's a small world!!! I feel your pain; our son, age 6 1/2, just had oral surgery last Thursday. Didn't have a tooth removed; had a fibroid (?) growth just under the tip of his tongue that kept shrinking and growing, filling with salivia, and a ranula from under his tongue (clogged salivia glad) that they drained and put stitches in to keep it open...sorry for the details for your weak stomache!!!

Son had an eerily similar response to finding out he had surgery! "What do you mean I had surgery?!" And then the look in his eyes when he saw what his tongue looked like at home afterwards. His eyes filled up with tears and was as devastated as a 6 year old could be.

The hardest thing now is to get him over the fear of pain when he tries to eat someting.

I don't want to have to go through oral surgery again, either, but knowing the placement of his tiny baby teeth and the horrible underbite he has, I know our journey of mouth pain has just begun.

Again...what a small, small world!


MGM said...

Good luck with the dentist's trip and your son's teeth. I have my son's second appointment in March. I dread it as he hates to have his teeth cleaned. He's barely two. This will be his second visit. At least there's no other issues yet. But this extra tooth thing is apparently highly genetic and 5 times as common in boys than girls, so I'm hoping it's not in his future as well.

Sorry about your son's surgery! Hope he has recovered and is eating fine. My daughter is just about back to normal self. One of the stitches fell out today and she said she ate regular food at Grandma's today.

Fortunately our pediatric dentist says both my kids have "nice space" between their teeth. They are all nice and straight with room for the permanent ones to come in. However, he has said he sees some orthodontics in the future for my daughter because she has a bit of an overbite. Apparently the lower jaw grows a bit faster than the upper jaw, and so that can close the gap, but he says hers is not matching up as close as it needs to at this stage.

I don't know if dental insurance covers orthodontics, but we may have to look into a policy at some point to determine if its overall benefits will prevent us from going into the poor house.

Tracy said...

I'm glad to hear that daughter made it through her surgery. We haven't done oral surgery here but both girls have had their tonsils taken out and I know what it's like sitting in that waiting room.
I'm glad that you didn't delete the rant. I have always had a problem with welfare.
My parents divorced when I was 12 and up until them my mom had been a stay at home mom. She had no college education to fall back on. So when my father left and his new wife didn't want to pay child support, we struggled. But through it all, my mom never went on welfare. She just never felt that we were bad off enough to do it.
At 16 I got a job at a local grocery store to help out with things like buying my own clothes plus I got a discount on groceries there which was a huge help. I was a cashier and I used to get so mad when someone with foodstamps would come through my line and they were eating better than we were! Frozen shrimp and crab legs, steaks. Then they would pull out hundred dollar bills to pay for their beer and ciggarettes. I just never saw how that was fair.
My point is, I totally agree with you. And for people like that to keep bringing babies into the world for us to pay for makes me so angry!

Tabatha Aikins said...

What a story, dear! I hope she is doing just fine. I would feel faint too if I was on her case. That's why I always opt for sedated dental operations. I might not make it if not.