Friday, October 31, 2008

Joel on Meds

So the displaced bone had to be pushed back into place. And the doctor had asked Joel if he wanted them to do it quick, or give him an IV.
"What's an IV?" Joel asked.
The nurse explained that it was a way to give him medicine. I asked the doctor which he recommended. In fact, I wasn't even sure I understood the question. Why on earth would you want to go through that without being sedated? Or at least relaxed a little?!
The doctor shrugged. "Most adults opt for the IV, but sometimes kids are more afraid of the needle."
Fear of needles Joel understood. He looked worried, but the nurse quickly assured him it was a tiny needle and he'd only feel it for a moment. He weighed that fear against the thought of anyone touching his throbbing arm.
"I'll take the--what did you call it?"
"Yeah. I'll take that."
I breathed a sigh of relief. That's what I was going to choose, but I was glad I'm not the one who had to tell them to use a needle on my son!
They put a temporary cast on the left arm and then wheeled him into another room to work on his right. I followed along and squeezed into a corner--it was a small room and there were two nurses and two doctors standing around his bed. They hooked him up to a monitor to check his heart, breathing and pulse while they worked. Joel simply laid there and stared at all the adults surround him. And he never stopped talking. The nurse prepared the anesthetic to pump into his IV, and his eyes grew huge at the sight of the very big needle. I assured him it would go into the thing they already put in his arm--no more sticking him. The doctor nodded to the nurse and she pushed the meds through his IV. Joel's eyes widened more and he talked faster.
While we waited for the medicine to take affect, the doctor stepped toward me and spoke quietly. He explained that Joel would have a "reaction" when they pushed his bone back in place, but because of the anesthetic he wouldn't remember what he'd been through.
But I would. I wondered if I could have something to relax me as well.
By now Joel should have been calmer, but instead he was talking loud and fast. The doctor finally told the nurse to push additional medication. Joel's eyes glazed.
"Am I supposed to go to sleep now?"
"You can if you want to," the nurse answered.
His eyes closed for two seconds before popping back open. "Why is everyone staring at me?"
As they all laughed, the second doctor asked, "What did you give him? Two of those would put me under the table."
Joel ended up having a third dose before he was relaxed enough for what they had to do. The doctor motioned for one of the nurses to hold down Joel's upper arm while he began manipulating the wrist. As soon as he began, Joel's head raised up and he stared at the doctor in horror, clearly wondering why the doctor would hurt him like this. I stepped forward and grabbed his feet, the only part of him I could get near.
"Look at me, Joel."
He didn't seem to hear me as he moaned and whimpered.
"He won't remember what he's been through," the nurse assured me.
He may not remember it later, but he was in pain now. And I'm his Mom. It's my job to fix it. Or at least comfort him.
When they finally finished, Joel sank back into the pillow while they put a temporary cast on the arm. The second doctor, who hadn't moved from the corner where he was standing the whole time, said, "If you don't need me anymore, I'm going now."
I'm assuming he was there in case of complications or a reaction to the medicine. At any rate, I did wonder how big a bill we would get for the privilege of having him stand in the room.
The medical staff did a final check on him and then slipped from the room one by one. I stepped up next to his bed and began singing the dwarf song again as Joel gave me a groggy smile. Then he raised his arm with the bulky white cast extending up past his elbow.
"When did they put this on me?" He asked.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Poor Baby!

I've been in emergency rooms where you look like you're dying and they still make you sit in the waiting room for three hours. The emergency room I took Joel to was busy, but they responded immediately to his tears and obvious injury. A nurse examined him in the waiting room and declared that his bone was obviously displaced. They put an icepack on him and triaged him right away. The receptionist called back and said she was bumping a kid up in line because of a displaced bone. I knew most of the time they called broken bones fractures or cracked. I had to ask.
"Displaced bone. That's broken, right?"
Joel had already said he thought his arm was broken, so I knew I wouldn't scare him talking about it with the nurse.
"No, displaced means it's pushed out of place. He may need surgery to fix it."
Okay, I hadn't discussed surgery with Joel. Thanks a lot. His eyes widened in panic and his tears flowed a little more freely. Still he didn't say anything until they settled us back in a curtained alcove. I rubbed his head and stroked his cheek, all the while keeping up a stream of nonsense chatter to distract him, but when I paused for breath he asked, "Do I have to have surgery?"
"We don't know," I answered. "Maybe all they'll have to do is put a cast on. We'll have to wait and see."
"Will it hurt?"
I couldn't take the fear in his eyes. I assured him that, if he had to have surgery, they would put him to sleep first and I would be with him the whole time. I looked for ways to comfort him. "Do you want me to pray?"
He shrugged. "I already did."
"Really? What did you pray?"
"That it wouldn't hurt when they fix it."
Short, simple faith. I loved it. A few moments later he spoke again.
"I wish Adam and Eve never sinned. I hate pain." My heart swelled with his simple grasp of the truths of the Bible. I believe the Bible with all my heart, but listening to his complete trust and acceptance of its truth blew me away.
I decided it was time to distract him, so I sang a nonsensical little song that the kids heard on the DVD, Open Season. I will not repeat the lyrics here, but the song involved a magical elf and a flatulent dwarf. 'Nuff said. It cracked Joel up because I kept getting the lyrics wrong, and he threw himself into correcting me. Then we sat and talked quietly, but every once in a while he'd look at me and say, "I'm in pain" in a singsong voice. That was his cue that he wanted to hear the song again. I now know the song very well and it gets stuck in my head frequently.
I was impressed with the hospital because they took x-rays almost immediately and gave him something for the pain. My opinion went down a few notches when we sat there for another two hours before we saw the doctor. Joel wasn't in as much pain, but he was restless and it's hard to keep him occupied on his best days. He has a clear, carrying voice, and a tendency to chatter nonstop. He watched as an attendant wheeled an elderly lady down the hall in a bed before turning to me and asking loudly, "Is she dead?" He also commented on the number of muslims based on some women we saw nearby wearing bursas. I started singing the song again, hoping to keep him quiet.
When the doctor showed up (after finishing his dinner, no doubt) he confirmed that Joel had broken both wrists. The left one was cracked and should heal nicely in less than six weeks. In fact, the doctor said if Joel was a quiet child used to sitting still, he could probably just put a removeable brace on it. I laughed and asked for the cast.
The right wrist was broken, but also displaced.
"Do I have to have surgery?" Joel spoke up.
"No," the doctor answered. "But we do have to push the bone back into place. Do you want an IV or do you want us to just do it?"
What a question to ask a ten-year-old! Or his mother!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

You think I Had It Bad!

If you read the tooth saga of the last week and a half, you know I've had it pretty bad lately. But that's nothing compared to what my son's going through now. And it all started because I wanted to be a good Mommy. Believe me, guilt and recriminations are eating me alive.
You see, with all that tooth pain for almost a month, I'd really only been phoning in on the mommy duties. Now that I was finally feeling better, I wanted to regain my spot in my children's lives. I also needed to get back into exercising. So I decided to kill two birds with one stone (something I've done before, which has never done the birds much good.) I decided to go play tennis. The court we usually play at has a playground right next to it, so we let our children play there. So after I got off work on Tuesday of last week, I told the boys to get ready to go to the park.
I especially wanted Joel to go. You see, he tends to dawdle over his schoolwork, and last time he missed out on the park outing because he wasn't done with school on time. That day he finished just in time, but he said he didn't want to go--he wanted to hang out at home. I overruled him and soon we were on our way.
After getting the kids at the playground settled, Theresa and I went over to the tennis court. It took only a few minutes to play two games--we were out of practice, so it was easy for the server to win--and were just starting to switch sides when I saw Joel walking across the field from the playground. He was crying and holding his arms out in front of him. Seems he'd been swinging and fell. One look and I knew we had a broken bone. His right hand was already swelling and it was clear that something was out of alignment in his wrist. His arm seemed to swell more as I examined him.
If you've read my blog for the past couple of months, you know that we've had more than our share of experience with injuries. My husband and I always strive to be calm and not panic the injured child any further, so I asked Theresa to call my husband and explain the problem while I helped Joel into the car. Terry ended up calling back a moment later, so I was trying to talk to him in code as Joel sat and cried in the back seat. Terry asked if I thought it was broken, and I told him, "Based on alignment and enlargement of the area, YES!"
Theresa took my other two boys and I headed for the emergency room with Joel. I have to admit I was a little nervous. I brought Nicky in for a broken collarbone in August, and Paul had to have his head stitched up in September. I knew it wouldn't take much for DCFS to start looking at us with interest. With that in mind, I started asking Joel just exactly what he'd been doing on the swings. Was he standing? Jumping off? If you knew Joel, you'd know these were logical assumptions. But no, he assured me all he'd been doing was swinging. As the swing went back, he felt himself sliding out and couldn't catch himself. In his words, "I hit the ground with my right hand, and then my left hand, and then my forehead." Sure enough he had a swelling around his eyebrow and scratches across his forehead as well. He moaned and cried softly all the way to the hospital. At one point he told me he couldn't move the fingers on either hand. His left hand wasn't swollen, but I decided to tell them to x-ray both arms. Might as well, as long as we had to be there anyway.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Stitch In Time (or Tooth)

Yes, as it turns out, I needed stitches. Either three of them or five of them--I'm not sure which as I got two different answers when I asked. Or maybe they didn't understand the question coming from my completely motionless mouth. When the stitching was finished, I was given a few instructions and turned loose. I staggered back out to my car and sat quietly for a few minutes, trying to rally the strength to drive home. The rest of the day passed in a blur of annoying numbness and agonizing pain. The dentist called that evening and left a message on my voicemail, just checking up on me. He said it was a rather rough extraction (ya think?) and that I had four roots, all curling, which was why it took so long.
The next morning I was swollen and aching on that side. The following day the swelling was worse, and so was the pain. But I was also having pain in the area of my partial, which was one molar away from the extracted wisdom tooth. I finally pulled the partial out and looked in the mirror. There were two stitches in the gum under the partial. That area was separated from the wisdom tooth by a whole other molar! Why did I need stitches there?
I took a closer look inside my mouth Saturday and discovered something even more disturbing. One of the stitches had actually caught the swollen tissue of the inside of my cheek. My cheek was actually sewn to my gums! Could this be why I couldn't open my mouth very wide?
By Saturday night I gave up treating the pain with ibuprofen and went for the prescription pain medication. I wanted to be pain-free for the first time in over three weeks, and I was willing to do whatever I had to in order to achieve that goal. I did sleep Saturday night, but when I got up Sunday morning I discovered one of the side-effects of the pain medication: dizziness. I couldn't stand up straight or walk in a straight line, and I was so nauseated I swore never to take another one of those pills again. I stayed in bed and nursed my swollen jaw Sunday, but by Monday I was convinced that the pain and swelling were more than the natural healing process. I began to think there was infection. Dry socket. Complications. But the dentist's office was closed on Mondays. I couldn't get my stitches out before Tuesday anyway, so I decided to tough it out. I did, although I was in tears by Monday night.
Tuesday morning I headed back to the dentist's office first thing. I knew I needed some answers for all these random stitches, but again my main goal was one thing: GET RID OF THE PAIN!
The dentist had a different assistant that day. She asked how I was feeling and I miserably explained my problems. I also asked why my cheek was sewn to my gum. She looked in my mouth and assured me that wasn't the case. Of course, she was looking at the stitches near my partial. She dug around a little more and said, "Oh, there it--" she caught herself and then said, "Well you just have stitches all over, don't you?" She then proceeded to remove the stitches. She apologized in advance for the pain, and offered to let the dentist numb it again. I didn't want anymore novocain, so she used a topical and then proceeded to put me through agony as she pulled out the stitches. If I had known any military secrets, I would have spilled them then.
She never did admit to seeing my cheek sewn to my gum, and since she removed the stitches, the dentist never got to see what he'd done. By the time he came into the room, I was in such agony I didn't have the strength to do more than beg him to do something for the pain. He said the extraction point did not look infected and seemed to be healing nicely, but no one could deny the pain I was obviously in. So he treated it as dry socket, packing it with gauze dipped in oil of cloves. Everything tasted like cloves for two days, and I went back and he packed it again. A week and a half after the initial visit, I was finally getting some relief. I still have occasional pain, but for the most part I'm pain-free for the first time in over a month. I never did bring up the misplaced stitches. They would never have admitted it because that would open them up to a lawsuit, not that I would sue. And I didn't want to use that to barter for future free treatments. I feel it's best we go our separate ways.
The other three wisdom teeth still need to come out. And they will--when having them in brings more pain than taking them out does. I can see that happening in another twenty years or so.

Monday, October 27, 2008

"Ac Urs!"

When we left off Friday, I was explaining that the dentist said I would feel tremendous pressure. In addition to the pressure, I also felt pain. "Ac urs" is what I said as pain shot through my tooth. Of course the translation was, "That hurts!" But my frantically waving hand made translations unnecessary. The dentist stopped what he was doing and shot me with more novocain. I was now convinced that local anethestic was not the way to go, but too late for that. (As a side note, I should probably tell you that it took over six hours before all the novocain wore off.)
Then he began working on my tooth. He had already commented that my mouth was too small to comfortably house all four of those wisdom teeth--a fact my husband continues to deny. As he worked to get at the tooth, the assistant hooked her gloved finger into the side of my mouth and pulled. She continued pulling and tugging in different directions until I wondered if my face would resemble Jim Carrey's character from The Mask. Not a good look for me. My mouth may have been too small for the wisdom teeth, but it was still big enough for the dentist and assistant to stick both their hands in there at the same time. My jaw and face muscles--at least, the ones I could feel--ached and I couldn't help but wonder what kind of swelling and pain I would be experiencing tomorrow.
I heard a loud crack. My tooth had broken off. The dentist commented that he had been expecting that. Wish he'd told me to expect it! He then proceeded to use what looked like a miniature circular saw. I made the mistake of opening my eyes right as it passed in front of my face. I squeezed my eyes tight again and vowed not to open them again until I died or he left the room, whichever came first. There was a great deal more tugging and working before finally, the rest of the tooth came out. As the dentist stepped back for a moment I sighed with relief and slumped weakly back in the chair. It was finally over. A little gauze, a few final instructions and I could go home. But instead ...
I opened my eyes again to see black thread and suturing scissors. Stitches? I needed stitches?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Tooth Odyssey

The dentist had numbed the wrong side. How could something like this happen? He explained that they used to view x-rays from the inside out--as if you were inside the patient's mouth. Now, with the digital x-rays, they were viewed from the outside in. He'd gotten confused. I looked again at the monitor. It was clearly from the inside out. Even a non-medical type person like myself could see that. I found out later that the assistant had flipped the image on the screen so that it was from the inside out. I guess she knew what the doctor was used to and was trying to help. Is there such a thing as being too efficient?
In the meantime, the doctor apologized and mumbled something about wishing I'd said something before he used the novocain. He told the assistant to knock $20 off my bill and proceeded to refill the syringe. I personally felt that the mistake caused me more than $20 worth of inconvience, but I wasn't in a position to say anything as he numbed the other side of my mouth. Panic welled up as the novocain crept across my entire tongue. It also numbed my jaw and started to creep down my throat. Would I still be able to swallow? By focusing intently I was able to get my swallowing reflex working. Although I must say, at that point it probably would have been easier to simply drool. My entire mouth was numb. I had no feeling below my nose.
While they were waiting for the novocain to take affect, the dentist disappeared. The assistant, however, bustled around the room. She examined my partial (or nesbit, if you will), clearly enthralled with obsolete technology. Then she sat down and watched the TV with me.
The strangest part of that whole time was, the assistant never quit talking. She kept up a steady stream of conversation, complete with questions. Questions that could not be answered with a nod or shake of my head. I wasn't really in a talking mood anyway, but did she not realize how incapacitated I was? She actually waited for my answers, and it seemed rude to ignore her so I tried to oblige. I slurred and mumbled my way through answers I couldn't even understand. And then she actually asked me to repeat myself. At one point she put her hand on my shoulder and said she wanted to explain something about the dentist. When he had to do an extraction he liked to get in, get it done and get out. She said it as if warning me. I stared back blankly before mumbling, "That's fine. I really don't want to take any longer than necessary." I had to repeat myself so she could understand me. Then she explained that he was so quick, some patients took it to mean that he wasn't being careful enough. In actuality, he's done so many that he can just get in and get it. It's because he was so experienced. All that sounded good, but I wasn't sure why she felt the need to explain it to me. It made me nervous.
I was relieved when the dentist returned. At least, I was relieved until he also started asking questions that required more than yes or no answers. And he also asked me to repeat myself. Was this some sort of sick joke? Some weird, twisted dental humor? Was I on candid camera?
As the dentist prepared to begin work, he explained that I would feel some pulling and some pressure, but absolutely no pain. "If you feel any pain at all," he instructed me, "I want you to raise your hand."
Raise my hand? How about smacking someone in the side of the head? I tensed as he began working on the tooth. After a few moments he said, "And now you should feel some really strong pressure."
He was right. I felt tremendous pressure. And something else. I waved my hand frantically.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Tooth Marches On

After viewing my x-ray, the assistant confirmed that I had an abscess. I described my radiating pain, and she said that was common in cases like this. It would definitely have to come out, if I was willing.

"Just get rid of the pain," I said.

The assistant bustled around, setting up the equipment and gathering the supplies the doctor would need. In the midst of her activity, she paused for a moment and put her hand on my shoulder.

"You realize, I'm not actually saying the tooth has to come out." Hadn't she said that? "The doctor will have to make the final call on that. But I've worked with him long enough that I pretty much know what he's going to say, so I'm going ahead and getting things ready."

Seemed efficient to me. The sooner this got started the sooner it would be over with. I let the assistant work and watched the FOX news channel playing on the monitor until the dentist came in. He introduced himself and then listened as the assistant told him of my complaint. He examined the x-ray and agreed the tooth had to come out. If I was willing?

"Do what you've got to do to get rid of the pain," I repeated. After all the examining, my left jaw and cheek were throbbing. I almost looked forward to the novocain.

"Has that thing been keeping you awake at night?" He reached for the topical numbing cream.

"I can't sleep on that side," I answered as I opened my mouth. Before I knew what he was doing, he swabbed the topical ointment between my cheek and gum and began shooting novocain into the side of my mouth. The right side of my mouth. I couldn't figure why he was doing that, but I still wasn't quick enough to say anything. I guess I've just been taught that it's not polite to speak when someone else has their hand in your mouth. When the dentist finished emptying the VERY LARGE novocain syringe, he patted my shoulder.

"Are you okay?"

"Sure," I mumbled, the numbness already creeping over my jaw. "But I have a question. Why are you numbing the right side of my mouth, when the tooth that needs to be pulled is on the left side?"

The dentist and his assistant stared at me. Then they stared at each other. Then they both turned and looked at the x-ray on the monitor. I had the sudden sinking feeling that this wasn't going to be a piece of cake after all.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Dental Drama Continues!

So I headed in for my appointment. It took a little longer to get there than I thought, but it still wasn't too bad. I knew I wouldn't be in the best of spirits after having my tooth pulled, but I still figured I could drive myself home easily enough. By now the pain was such a driving force I was desperate to get rid of it. I headed into the dental office and filled out the forms, eager to get the day behind me. In no time the dental assistant called me in and led me down a hallway to the examining room. She kept up a steady stream of chatter as she listened to my complaint and then asked me to open wide. Yes, she could see the offending tooth, and yes, she was sure the dentist would say it had to come out. In order to get a good view of this, they would need to do a scanning x-ray. Would that be okay with me?
Well I certainly didn't want them doing anything without getting an x-ray first! So I said sure. She led me back down the hall to a small room with an x-ray machine. There was a place to rest my chin and forehead and I almost got confused for a moment as to whether I was at the dentist's office or the eye doctor's. She already had me remove my earrings, and at the last minute I remembered my partial. I removed that, too, and placed on the paper towel on the counter. The assistant buzzed about, setting the machine, until her attention was captured by my partial.

"You have a nesbit!" She exclaimed.

I wasn't sure if that was a good or a bad thing. I started to apologize until I realized she was talking about my partial. She beamed at me. "You don't see those much any more."

I thought it best not to ask why. I needed to focus on the goal: get the wisdom tooth pulled. If I needed other dental work done, that could come later. Get rid of the pain. It almost became a mantra.

The x-ray machine had a metal plate that did a slow circle around my head. I guess that's why they call it a scanning x-ray. It worked well too, until it hit my shoulder as it went around. Even so, the picture was still clear. Moments later I was back in the dentist's chair and the assistant was calling my x-ray up on the computer monitor. They were all digital now, she informed me. That way the patient was exposed to less radiation. It made sense at the time. How was I supposed to know that radiation exposure was the least of my problems?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Continuing Dentist Drama

Have you ever noticed how hard it is to get an appointment as a new patient? Doctors and dentists inevitably need more time for a "new patient appointment". Because of this, it usually takes longer to get in. After all, they've only got so many appointment slots set aside for those dreaded new patient visits. Aware of the new patient syndrome, I was prepared to wait awhile for my appointment, although the pain in my tooth wasn't going to be easy to live with. Imagine my surprise when I called and was scheduled for the following day. I guess that should have been my first clue. After all, aren't the good doctors and dentists in high demand?
My second clue was after explaining my problem. The receptionist summed up what she thought I was saying:

"So you want to get rid of the pain, that's why you're coming in?"

She's quick.

"All right then. I'll put you down as wanting the tooth extracted, if possible."

Wait a minute. You mean he would pull the tooth tomorrow? On my first visit?

"You're in luck," the receptionist assured me. "Not many doctors pull wisdom teeth anymore. Most refer them to an oral surgeon."

She scheduled my appointment for two the following afternoon. I asked if she could make it a little later because I usually work until two. But she said she was allowing enough time for any unknown contingencies. If I just wanted an exam and an x-ray she could schedule it later. I took the two o'clock appointment and juggled my work hours.

Truthfully, I didn't see this as a problem. I wanted the pain taken care of as soon as possible. And the only thing worse than going to see a dentist is having to go see a series of dentists in order to get the problem taken care of. Sure, what the hey? Schedule me for a tooth pulling! No muss, no fuss. I guess I'll need to bring someone with me to drive me home.

I wasn't sure what to think when the receptionist informed me that they wouldn't be using anesthesia. Oh no, they would do a local. I could walk right out and drive myself home when they were through. No problem at all.

I know many of you (okay, the two of you) are scratching your heads and going, "Whaaa?" I can only plead a combination of lack of dentistry knowledge and lack of common sense caused by my intense tooth pain. Plus, I'm slightly gullible. I tend to believe people when they say they know what they're doing or that they're the best. So I scheduled my appointment.

It was just pulling a tooth. Or two. I hadn't decided for sure if he should pull two at a time or not. I didn't really want to do all four at once, but two at a time seemed efficient. I wavered back and forth through the day while I was at work. I didn't come to a decision about that, but I did get more nervous as the day wore on. And I got a little irritable, too. I kept telling myself, it's just a tooth pulling. You've been through this before. Piece of cake!

If I had only known ...

Monday, October 20, 2008

Dentist Drama

So have you missed me? I know all two of you that actually read this blog have been wondering what on earth happened. Well, listen my children and you shall hear ... of my tooth odyssey.
This tooth journey actually began ten years ago, but don't worry. I don't intend to chronicle all ten years of my dental health for you. Suffice it to say that, ten years ago, my dentist advised me that I needed to have all four of my wisdom teeth removed. I wasn't too thrilled at the prospect, but after all, millions of people have their wisdom teeth removed. No one dies from it. Or if they do, I haven't heard about it so please don't tell me.
So my dentist says I have to have them all removed, and he gives me the name of an oral surgeon. I have to call and make the appointment for this wonderful event to take place. It took me several days to work up my courage. After all, going to the dentist is not my favorite thing to do. And voluntarily scheduling oral surgery? I almost think I qualify for a psych evaulation.
But I am a grown up and I knew I couldn't put things off forever. I did need to get all my ducks in a row first. I had four children at the time and I needed to know that they would be taken care of while I was out of commission. I needed to get a few things in order around our house. And I needed to take a pregnancy test. I know, I know. Not your typical pre-wisdom tooth extraction test. I didn't have any pregnancy symptoms and I had a nine month old at the time. Pregnancy didn't seem likely. But I like to cover all the bases so I took a test. Guess what. The test was positive, and there went my chance for oral surgery. Our fifth child was born eighteen months and two days after our fourth one. Two weeks after his birth he came down with viral meningitis and ended up spending a week in the neo-natal ICU at the hospital. By the time he and I were both back on our feet, we were traveling full time on deputation. About the time I could actually start thinking about the dentist again, I got pregnant again. I realize that's a rather drastic step to avoid dental surgery, but it's all I had to work with. This one was born twenty months after the last one. Three months after his birth, we packed up all six kids and left to do mission work in Uganda. For the next few years, my teeth were not on my mind.
Two years into our first term on the mission field, I had to come back to the States for some dental work. But no, not on my wisdom teeth. I had another tooth giving me problems. The dentist offered me two choices: either pull it, or get a root canal. I told him to pull it. I only had three weeks in the States, and I didn't want to spend all of them in the dentist's chair. He pulled it, I suffered for a week with dry socket, and then I spent two weeks shopping and eating before heading back to the mission field.
That was six years ago. I've had my share of dental appointments and cavities since then, and every time I saw a dentist he would comment that my wisdom teeth had to come out. But I didn't listen until about a month ago.
Pain is a great motivator, have you noticed that? As long as my teeth weren't bothering me, I wasn't going to bother them. I existed in this live-and-let-live world until they broke their end of the agreement. My left lower wisdom tooth began to give me a little pain. I ignored it until the pain was no longer little. It was also no longer confined to my tooth, or even my jaw. Instead I had pain radiating into my ear and up into my sinus cavities. About that time I decided to look for a dentist. I asked several people that I knew for recommendations. I then used a very scientific method to make my selection. I chose the one that was closest. Even then, I had the phone number for several days before I made the call. I think if I hadn't been in so much pain, I would have been more in tune with the warning signs that cropped up from that very first encounter.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I Can't Hear You!

Ever get the feeling that you're shouting your heart out and no one's listening? I don't mean in that sad, my-heart-is-breaking-and-no-one-seems-to-care way, although that sometimes happens. No, I mean you're actually talking and no one seems to be listening. Maybe it's just me. Maybe it's because I'm the only female in a house full of males. Sometimes I'm convinced they really do think I'm talking just to hear the sound of my own voice.
I can tell when my guys zone out. I'll be simply chattering along and suddenly a glazed look comes over their eyes. They may even still be looking in my general direction, but their brain has definitely passed on to something else. When that happens I'll throw something unusual into the conversation. I'll say something along the lines of, "So then I ran out of the house naked, swinging the chicken over my head." That usually brings them back.
At other times, they don't even really pretend to be listening anymore. They'll be distracted by something on the TV, another conversation nearby, or a bee buzzing in a bush. (They're easily amused.) They give an occasional "uh huh" to the conversation, but they're long gone. Then I usually stop speaking. Silence reigns for a moment or two (sometimes an embarrassingly long moment!) and then they jerk their gaze back toward me with a dazed look, as though they just woke up.
It's not much better when I'm getting after one of my boys. The younger ones show their thoughts on their face: "How much trouble am I in? What's the punishment going to be?" They're so worried about that they don't hear the rest of what I'm saying. The older ones will stare at the floor and their voices go into a monotone: "Yes, ma'am. No, ma'am." This is especially true if they don't agree with me. They wouldn't dare argue back, but their thoughts are still pretty clear.
In those cases I take the problem to the head of the home. He can straighten them out. Except that sometimes, while I'm explaining the incident, his attention strays ...
After reading this post, I'm beginning to wonder if I'm just so boring that I can't hold their attention. But then, hey! You read through this whole thing, didn't you? Of course, I can't see if your eyes are glazed ...

Don't Grow Up!

Today my son, Paul, turns twelve. I can hardly even write these words. How did this happen? He is the fourth of my children to hit the "pre-teen" years. I only have two left to go, and they're not far behind. I'm not old enough for them to be so old. What happened?
Paul's been counting the days to his birthday for weeks now. I'm surprised he's still asleep at the moment because he was so excited about having a birthday today. He asked if he could start going to youth activities at our church, but I told him they have to be thirteen before they can attend. Don't look at me like that--I told the truth! But I'm not ready for another one to be a teenager, especially when I'm just barely surviving the other three.
This is also the first year that Paul won't be getting toys for his birthday. No, I'm not giving him clothes. But he's now at the age where electronics (more expensive toys) are high on his wish list. They're cool toys, but the trade off is that they're smaller. Hope he's matured enough to look past the size of the wrapped package!
Luke, my fourteen-year-old, keeps reminding me how many days he has left before he can get a driver's permit. My response? Just because you can legally have one doesn't mean you will have one. I've got to find a better method for covering my gray hair first.
Matthew, nineteen-years-old, mentioned the other day that he will be twenty-one in a year and a half. Why do they wish so much of their life away? Why do they wish so much of their youth away? I'm sure to them it seems like it will last forever, but trust me. It doesn't. It seems to disappear overnight.
I've been struggling with this since I realized Paul would be twelve on his next birthday. (Somehow that didn't occur to me when we were celebrating his eleventh birthday!) I was almost coming to terms with it when Nicky, the youngest, announced he would be nine in December. My baby's last year of single digits? Say it isn't so! As I bemoaned that he would be getting older, Joel wrapped his arm around my shoulders. At ten years old, he is rarely serious, and he smiled winningly as he comforted me. "Don't worry, Mom," he assured me. "We won't let Nicky get any bigger. We'll beat him down." Okay, so not all of them are at the cusp of growing up yet. This I can deal with.
I just wonder why no one told me that the diaper and bottle years would end so quickly. At the time they took forever, but they're gone and only now am I finding out that they were the easiest years. So I'm bracing myself for the next few years, and I'm researching better hair coloring. Any suggestions?
Related Posts with Thumbnails