Wednesday, 25 July 2012

The Painful Tooth of the Matter

And the next drama is upon us. Teeth.    Decaying ones.  Past the point of no return.  Five of them.  Milk teeth.  Baby teeth.  To be extracted.  Oh. My.  God.  I still feel sick.  I am heart sore at this latest piece of news.  Is religious brushing not sufficient anymore?  It seems not.  Diet today, it transpires, is a huge factor in tooth decay.  Much worse than when I was growing up.  There are all sorts of hidden horrors within.  Added to that, today’s children have greater and ready access to juices, fizzy drinks, junk food and sugary snacks. Who knew that the occasional innocent 10p mix up was so safe?   Ironic then that fizzy drinks are never given to our boys.  They do, however, enjoy a drop of the diluted stuff.  That stops today.  It is now strictly reserved for a special occasion.  I’ve been assured that sometimes milk teeth are just that little bit weaker and the current condition of Conor’s teeth bears no indication on the future wellbeing of his adult ones.  Little solace.  The decay is so bad in some of his molars that it could very possibly cause nerve damage which is bad news, very bad news indeed, for the dormant adult teeth.  There are a couple of options, however.  He could have them extracted in the clinic one by one via the usual Lidocaine route or have them whipped out, one through to five, under a light general anaesthetic in the hospital. Oh, goody!  Which one will I pick? Neither of them are good options as far as I am concerned.  Conor complained of a tooth ache a couple of months ago and was quite upset about it.  I am not without empathy despite never suffering from an “ache tooth” myself.  My child was upset, in pain and crying hard.  It doesn’t matter where that pain is coming from; it hurts me as a mother when my child is distressed.  So I took him to the dentist.  I was fully expecting it to be the same scenario as last July; a temporary filling.  Not so this time. The dental nurse checked off on a score card, how good, or in this case how bad I had been in relation to my son’s dental care.  At the same time the dentist expected a six and a half year old boy to answer silly inane questions when his gloved hands were in the child’s mouth.  The first time I heard the word extraction I mentally gasped.  My hand tightened into a fist the second time.  The third time, I can't remember what my reaction was.  And when he reached the grand sum total of five and launched straight into how my baby’s baby teeth needed to be whipped out while he would be asleep, my heart was racing, my mouth was dry and there was a roaring in my ears. You’re joking, me!  Please tell me you’re winding me up!  But no, there it was; in blue biro, hard evidence that Conor’s mother, which would be me, was extremely remiss in the care of his baby teeth.  Conor’s first tooth appeared when he was just 12 weeks old.  It appeared after a small fussing session, one I attributed to the hot weather we were having at the time.  That was the one and only indication that he was getting his teeth.  He sailed through the rest of the teething process after that.  A perfect, teething baby.  People told me he had an early tooth because I took calcium supplements when I was pregnant.  They also say, the later they get their teeth, the longer they hang onto them.  Please, no more advice or old wives tales.  It’s not worth it.  I can beat myself up all by my own self thank you very much.  I don’t need cod ology to help me.  Then the out of body experience was being reversed by the dentist asking me in his abrupt manner if that was ok? He was handing me a card with an appointment date on it and an antibiotic.  Ok?  No, it bloody well was not ok to whip out five milk teeth just like that.  And what’s that antibiotic for?  Almost as if it was an afterthought, he explained Conor had a gum infection and this was why he wasn’t sleeping at night.  First I heard of his insomnia.  I pulled myself together, put an end to the goldfish impression and asked if I could get a second opinion.  Monday 9th July I got that second opinion.  I was very much aware this paid for diagnosis could well match the first one but I was fervently hoping otherwise.  Oy vey. It was not to be on this occasion.  The only difference was the new dentists better bed side manner, approach and attitude which, despite the crap verdict, put me at ease and reassured me somewhat.  I still cannot believe I had to pay thirty euro for that, something the school dentist could have, no, should have taken time with.  His rushed and impersonal manner made me distrust him.  So back we had to go to be told “I told you so.”  This time I had no other option but to bring all four boys with me. It is an emergency clinic which means you are required to be there before 9.30am.  They don’t open shop until 10am.  We were the only ones there.  There were a couple of magazines on the table going back to June of last year to occupy parents and not so much as a plastic rattle to amuse waiting children so I didn’t appreciate the cranky security guard from downstairs taking it upon himself to roar up at my boys to sit down and be quiet when all they were doing was walking around.  So I ignored him with just a little bit of a dirty look. That day was not the day to mess with me.  Eventually I was given a couple of forms to consent and if it wasn’t bad enough, to add insult to injury there was the possibility that any other loose teeth might need to be taken out too.  Conor has three wobblers in the front.  Genuine tooth fairy ones.   I kept telling myself, it’s teeth.  It’s only teeth. Baby teeth at that.  But it all seemed so dramatic. I was traumatised by the image of five bloody holes in his mouth even if he wasn’t.  And then I had to catch and deal with another curveball thrown at me.  The stupid car is acting up.  The clutch that, for one shaky minute, almost threatened our seaside holiday is still crook and the car is looking likely to be admitted into its own hospital thus rendering it impossible for me to travel with Conor to the hospital.  He will be in perfectly good, maybe even better hands, those of his daddy’s, but aren’t mothers supposed to be with their children when they’re in hospital.  The fact that it was all one big adventure for Conor made it much easier for me.  In the end he climbed into the jeep with his daddy’s phone in hand, ready to amuse himself with a new game on the trip to the dental hospital.  I stood at the front door with his three brothers and we waved him off.  I was greatly reassured that morning by other people who had found themselves in the same situation and had first-hand experience with the dental hospital.  I am most grateful to you all.  We mothers are own worst enemies but I made damn sure Conor was never made aware of my nervous disposition.  My relief was almost tangible later on when I received the phone call I had been waiting for. In his own words Conor told me that it stung a little when he woke up but they gave him special medicine and he was fine after that.  He was even able to eat the yogurt I had sent up with him.  I was greatly relieved at his joviality and bounce-back-ability but still got a jolt when I saw him.  To me he looked pale and there were definite traces of blood on his lips.  He didn’t get to see what his mouth looked like but he still delighted in showing me.  Yep, there they were.  The five bloody holes I had been dreading.   He was none the worse for his ordeal. Clearly none the worse as his next question proved:  how much money will the tooth fairy give me for my teeth?  We went to the shop that afternoon to purchase mouth friendly treats like ice-cream and the man at the checkout took all of my money.  I didn’t think Conor would accept that so I toyed with reminding him that he left all of his teeth in the dental hospital.  But that would that be really mean so I settled instead for a small pile of coins under his pillow.  Clearly, I was also over my fright!  I think it’s fair to say there is a new OCD trait in the house:  that of teeth brushing.          

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