Thursday, February 7, 2013

Two failed dentist appointments and an ugly cry

This was the closest we got to getting Eisley's teeth fixed. 
This past week has brought some major frustrations with it. First we had the flu outbreak of 2013. Justin first, then Violet, then Eisley and I got a very mild version (I was on Tamiflu, and I love my OB for calling in a prophylaxis Rx for me) so that was a rough way to spend several days. Violet had a 102° fever that wouldn't reduce with anything except lukewarm baths which made her scream bloody murder. That was fun...

But the real disappointment this week was our two--TWO--failed dentist appointments for Eisley.

I noticed her large cavity at the beginning of December. (Sure enough, she has the good ol' Erickson teeth genes, they deteriorate no matter how well we care for them--and that's a dentist confirmed fact.) I wasted no time hunting down a good pediatric dentist who was rated as one of Denver's top peds dentist in 5280 Magazine (they are rated by their peers, you know, not the magazine). I'm a little picky about our doctors, I always try and find the best.

We love our regular dentist, but I also know my Eisley is a Nervous Nancy so I thought a special kids dentist would help. I called the one with the jungle themed office, complete with a tree house in the waiting room and TVs on the ceiling above the patient chairs, and begged for an immediate appointment. They were booked two months out, but when I explained it was urgent they worked us in the next day.

Long story short, the dentist was great, office is fab, but Eisley needed a decent amount of work done on three teeth. They booked us, but not for several weeks. It concerned us, but the dentist was reassuring that the teeth might get a little worse, but the treatment plan would not change in just a matter of weeks--she'd need the same work done regardless. So we waited our turn, patiently, looking forward to February 4th when we'd finally take her in to get her teeth fixed...

Except when the time came, it didn't go so well.

Justin had taken her to the first appointment and reported that Eisley had sat in the chair and submitted to exam without a peep. We expected the same thing this time, instead she refused to sit in the chair and let them put the nitrous oxide mask on her.

It was so frustrating to watch. Here we had waited almost two months for this appointment only to have Eisley refuse to let them work on her.

The dentist took us aside, into his office with a glass wall so we could watch our kids play right outside. He explained that, since option 1--the laughing gas--had failed, we had three more options...

Option 2 is to give Eisley a drug cocktail drink of 3 narcotics at the beginning of the appointment, the drugs cause temporary amnesia so she probably won't fight or remember the appointment at all. This sounds scary, but it's usually his next step and he told us that in the 12 years of using this method about twice a week, he's only had one negative reaction to the drugs and even then the reaction was mild.

Option 3 is to take her to Children's Hospital to have general anaesthesia while he works on her. Cha-ching! And which is scarier? Drug cocktail or general anaesthesia? I can't decide.

Option 4, he said, is to just hold her down and do the dental work forcefully, but he followed this by saying, "If that's what you want, then you'll have to go elsewhere because I spend too much time here undoing that sort of trauma on children." And I have to say, I like his opinion here. The point is to get Eisley to relax and cooperate when at the dentist, not to scar her for life.

We booked Eisley for Option 2, another SIX WEEKS out, and left the office trying not to show Eisley our disappointment, but incredibly frustrated.

Once we got in the car, I started thinking hard, and I started to feel like we had set Eisley up for failure. We'd assumed she'd do well, no questions asked, just like her first appointment. We didn't even talk to her or prepare her for the procedure or the laughing gas mask. Also, Justin was there, not that it was his fault but I know my daughter and honestly she is a little more of a baby when daddy is around.

I just kept thinking, in a desperate desire to avoid giving my 4-year-old a three-drug, amnesia-inducing narcotics cocktail to drink, that under different circumstances I could have gotten Eisley to lay there and wear the mask. I just knew it.

I started talking it over with Eisley, I started role-playing with her, I promised her a bribe of a trip to Chuck E. Cheese if she would sit in the dentist's chair and wear the mask. I showed her YouTube videos of people laughing hysterically while wearing the mask.

Now, she was begging to go back to the dentist.

So I really went out on a limb and called the appointment director when we got home. I plead my case to her and begged for a second chance. After asking the dentist himself, she agreed to give us a second try.

YES!

I was so relieved. But the next appointment wasn't for two months out (see how popular this dentist is?! sheesh!) but she promised to put me on a wait list in case someone else cancelled. Apparently a lot of people are getting the flu these days and cancelling.

Sure enough, the next day she called and told me that we could get Eisley in tomorrow. I was a little worried, but I kept talking it over with Eisley, promising her Chuck E. Cheese, role-playing the situation with her. I prayed too. I so desperately wanted to avoid these drugs.

Our vicar's wife (new vicar, but these people are long time family friends of ours, very dear people to us) so kindly agreed to babysit Violet (during a Bible study she was hosting at her house, nonetheless) while I took Eisley by myself.

I tried to keep it casual, I tried to stay calm, I prayed in silence in the car on the way there that Eisley would have a calm spirit and wear the mask. Eisley seemed fine.

Suddenly we were there and it was the moment of truth, would my preparing her help? Would she sit and wear the mask like I had promised everyone I could get her to do?

I worked as a children's hairstylist for several years, I've learned a few tricks when it comes to getting children to do something they don't want to. After 5,000+ haircuts on babies, toddlers, and children, now could I just get my own child to cooperate?

Long story short, yes. I did manage, with a little coercing, a little reminding about Chuck E. Cheese, to get Eisley to lay back in the chair and wear the mask. It took a few minutes, but we got there. I eventually got her in the chair, calm, and wearing the mask, the nitrous oxide flowing into her and calming her nerves...

I thought we were good, I was so relieved when she sat there for a couple minutes, watching Toy Story 2 play on the screen above her. I thought we'd made it, the laughing gas will do it's work now. Yes!

Except I was wrong.

The nurse started pulling out tools, the dentist came in, and Eisley was suddenly alert and up out of the chair again. I asked the nurse if it the gas had been going, Eisley seemed suddenly unaffected by it, and she said yes, but the dentist went on to explain that it's still not strong enough to get the most sensitive, nervous, strong-willed children to sit calmly. A couple breaths through the mouth, they explained, and the gas would wear off. It wasn't foolproof.

This wasn't what I'd expected. I thought the gas would make her loopy and calm right away and keep her that way. Unfortunately, it doesn't work like that. My sweet, high-strung little Eisley is still her high-strung little self, nitrous oxide or not.

Eisley had become calm under the mask, but at the first sign of excitement in the room she had jumped up and whispered in my ear, "Momma!!! We're going to go to Chuck E. Cheese! I'm going to ride the horse at Chuck E. Cheese! Momma!"

I acted happy for her while inside I was devastated. My heart sank. I wanted to cry.

We had been SO close.

I was now embarrassed in front of these people I had begged for a second chance from, the people I had made promises of a cooperative child to.

The dentist was mercifully kind about it, he was very sympathetic as he told me that he just wouldn't push her to do it, especially since three teeth needed work and not just one. She really needed the sedatives to get through this.

So we rescheduled--now even further out than before, our appointment isn't until April 2nd (though we're only the second on the wait list, and the dentist assure me that her teeth wouldn't deteriorate any more in the mean time as long as we brushed them religiously).

I was frustrated, embarrassed, and hormotional (pregnancy hormone emotional). I got Eisley in the car, and called Justin to explain. I almost caused a huge car accident and got us t-boned when I mistook the wrong green light for my green light (not used to the Stapleton area). A city bus would have been involved... thank you Lord for stopping that mess.

A week of flus, of fevers, of let downs, of little sleep, of embarrassment, of worry for my children, an almost-car accident and angry motorists yelling at me (I don't blame them)--it all came crashing down on my heart at once.

I lost it. I ugly cried, but in silence. (Have you ever ugly cried in silence? It's even uglier in silence.) I didn't want Eisley to know I was upset, and she was just in the back seat. She kept asking about Chuck E. Cheese. I suppose some parents might say no, since she didn't get her teeth fixed. But after discussing it with Justin, we both felt that we did owe Eisley a trip to CEC. After all, she had kept her promise: she did sit in the chair and she did wear the mask. It's not her fault that the nitrous oxide just wasn't strong enough to calm her little heart. My bribery totally backfired. I hadn't seen that coming.

I was frustrated, but I was not angry at her. I didn't want her to think I was mad at her. This motherhood thing, it's complicated. Much more complicated than I ever thought possible.

I'm glad I had my make-up in the car, I had enough time to pull over and fix my face before picking up Violet. I tried to keep my emotions in check as I was greeted by my vicar's wife--but there is just something about that lady. She is the most encouraging, compassionate, non-judgemental person I know. I broke down as soon as she asked me how it went. Then she encouraged me to tell her all about it, so I did, mixed with frequent apologies for ugly crying in front of her. Again, I was embarrassed. But at least in good company, my vicar's wife is so supportive to young moms, having raised six of the most wonderful children herself. She asked me about the sedatives and why I was worried and encouraged me not to worry about them. She said lots of uplifting things I needed to hear.

So, hopefully a cancellation will open up another appointment for us soon. We have no choice but to sedate our daughter. In hindsight, however, I'm glad we did get a second try. Now I know she just really can't do it with laughing gas alone.

She is very much like me, actually. I know where she gets the worrying and the strong-will from.

She is still just a little one. I'm not at all mad at her or disappointed in her. I'm very proud of her for many things, actually. It's just, watching your child unintentionally make something worse/harder for themselves and having to stand by, powerless to do anything about it. It's hard. Motherhood. is. complicated.

The sedatives might not seem that bad, but I've always been nervous about drugs. We've done a very slow, reluctant vaccination schedule after I had a reaction to a vaccine as a baby myself. I pray each time they get a shot. Giving a mixture of 3 narcotics to my 4-year-old and her developing brain just scares the crap out of me.  I know the dentist says he uses them all the time without fail, but reading the waiver we had to sign--with side-effects listed  (what the heck is "angry child syndrome"!?) is no easy thing for a mom like me.

Eisley & I, we're just alike.

It's times like these I try and remind myself to be thankful that my children don't have autism or cancer or serious mental health issues. A few bad teeth to be repaired, that's all. She's in for a life full of that with her Erickson genes, actually. Hopefully this is the one and only time we'll have to sedate her. I hate it, but I could also see her adult teeth forming under her baby teeth in the x-rays the dentist showed us. It is important that we take care of them.

Pray for us!

Especially hormotional me. Someday I will look back on this and laugh. ....Right? Right?!

We did ride that horse, after all.
Violet too.
Okay...I promise my next post will be light hearted. Things have gotten too glum around here.


10 comments:

  1. Heather - I have been right where you are, just not over the dentist. When Ian (who is an extremely anxious, wound child) had his first seizure, we took him to Children's Hospital and they wanted to do an MRI. I refused the anesthesia because I, like you, get nervous over giving my children drugs. However, Ian totally freaked out. Like really bad. The staff was pretty good with us, but there was one nurse who was rude and I felt judgemental of our original decision. Here I was, completely jet-lagged (we had just gotten home from Ukraine the night previous), sick from something I caught on the plane, and having to make these decisions. Anyway, long story short, we ended up letting them give him anesthesia. Even with the anesthesia and the other drug they gave him, it took a while for him to calm down because he was so wound up. And now, when we take him for his routine MRI's, we just schedule them with anesthesia. I don't like him having to be put out, but it's better for him and his nerves. So my point is: Don't feel bad about it.

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    1. Oh Amber that sounds so trying. I remember reading on your blog that something was up when you got back from Ukraine, but thank you for sharing this message of encouragement! It's a blessing to others to be able to share with you this sort of mommy grief. I really appreciated your comment. <3

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  2. I'm sorry you had such a hard time. Kids, man. Our dentist in Ft. Collins saw all the kids in one big open room. The parents did not go back with them. It sounds scary but the girls always emerged happy and relaxed, and with all the kids and dentists in the same room you don't worry about shady things going down. The dentists felt that kids often cooperated better without mom and dad there. Indy had laughing gas when she got her caps on. I was hoping for a "is this real life???" moment when she was done, but no such luck.

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    1. Thanks, Bea.
      This dentist also sees all the kids in one big happy room. But for the longer, scarier procedures involving drills and shots and gas masks and pulse ox monitors, they take you to a private room. I think that might have been why Eisley did so well with her first appointment, she was in the "common room". I know kids used to sit better for their haircuts when mom or dad wasn't around too, so that makes sense. Still, Eisley is the type of child who would NEVER leave our side. So in the case of the dentist, I'm glad they have us come back with her.

      I'll show you the videos of Eisley's appointment today sometime... ;-)

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  3. Heather,
    I always appreciate your posts. Good or bad, they are brutally honest. I admire you. You are a good mom.
    More importantly, you have a Heavenly Father who loves you and cares for you and your beautiful family daily.

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    1. Thanks so much for this comment, DeAnn! I guess I'm still emotional because it made me teary. I feel like I tend to over share on my blog, but oh well, I've always been an open book!

      You're so sweet, thank you.

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  4. I'd go for option number 2 as well. It got me thinking, in order for them to administer the anesthesia, they would need to inject her with a syringe that would totally freak her out. Besides, the narcotics and anesthesia are both drugs, but not of the same gravity. Kids, sometimes are stubborn and we need to assure them that nothing wrong will happen. Why don't you just stay right next to her and hold her hands while she's under the procedure? It might help. It can be tough to make our kids go to the dentist, and I admire you for being resilient.

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  5. It was surely a hard time for you. I recommend a dentist Manhattan Beach who can surely help you in future. Best wishes!

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  6. Awww. You shouldn’t feel bad about it. I’m sure your dentist didn’t mind at all that the nitrous oxide didn’t take full effect on Eisley. In fact, you should be proud of the fact that you were willing to do anything for your child. Besides, you should also feel glad that you have such a dentist who is concerned with the emotional welfare of Eisley. I hope everything’s alright now.

    Gus Eckles

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  7. You really shouldn't feel bad. The dentist cared about her emotional welfare too. Things will work out.

    Elisa Jed | http://www.apollodentalcenter.com/pediatrics.html

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