Rotten

Just a post for me to look back on in 10 years to remind me that I predicted Aitch would need $10K in orthodontia work…

Over this past summer break, Aitch would come to me complaining of a headache or toothache. I would offer a washcloth to bite on or if she was particularly clingy, a baby aspirin. Where she pointed in her mouth led me to believe that her 6-year molars were coming in, because, well…she’s six. But other times, she would point more to the frontish-side-ish and so I imagined baby teeth were getting ready to be ousted. I shrugged it off while encouraging her to suck it up until her bi-annual dental exam on July 24.

At the exam, I was informed that she had pretty extensive decay on all four primary (baby) first molars. Worse, there was no waiting for the baby teeth to fall out as they normally don’t until sometime around age 8 to 12. Her dentist recommended fillings at the least; pulpotomies (a root canal on baby teeth) at the worst. Due to procedures being necessitated in all four quadrants of her mouth, he suggested doing it under general anesthesia. The other option was to do the procedures in his office, but if we chose that route, we’d have at least two, possibly three more office visits since he wouldn’t/couldn’t do them all in one.

I was devastated. Rather, I was embarrassed that my perfect snowflake (said with some sarcasm) had nasty teeth. I regretted every soda I shared with her; every glass of orange juice I poured; every pint of cherry tomatoes she ever polished off; and every glowing review I gave to her post-brushing when I’d “Oooh!” and “Aaaah!”  when in reality all she was doing was rubbing the brush across the front of her teeth as she grimaced into the bathroom mirror.

Working for an oral surgeon had been educational on the long-term effects of ondontophobia (dental anxiety). If the first appointment involved work on the most painful tooth (needles, drilling, gagging, grinding), how difficult would it be to get her back for the next appointments? On the other hand? She should suck it up. I should suck it up! General anesthesia is dangerous stuff, especially when I had no idea how she would respond to it, and so young. Not to mention the considerable extra expense!

I chose to have it all done in one fell swoop.

The procedure was scheduled three weeks later. August 12th. A week before she returned to school (as a 1st Grader!). That Sunday before, the pain flared again. When I looked into her mouth (now knowing where specifically to look), I saw the gum surrounding the worst tooth was red and swollen to twice its normal size. Surgery couldn’t come soon enough.

Unicorn, freshly washed and fluffed.
Unicorn, freshly washed and fluffed.

Tuesday morning, we were as ready as we could be. I had made sure to bathe her the night before and gently warned her that she couldn’t have anything to eat or drink, not even a sip or to even brush her teeth. She seemed happy when I told her that she could stay in her jammies and bring along her favorite blanket and stuffed animal (Unicorn). We were scheduled at 9:00 am at the surgery center. By 8:40, we were buckling up in the car when the SC called, “The doctor is just finishing up his last case. Are you on your way?” I assured her that we could be there in 10 minutes. At least he wasn’t behind…

Upon our arrival, I filled out some paperwork and wrote a check. We have a high-deductible plan and while I knew the SC would have to take a write-off, we’d be responsible for a majority of the bill. Within just a few minutes, the prep-nurse brought us back and had Aitch exchange her jammie top for a child’s scrub shirt. She chatted happily with the nurse; her only complaint was that of hunger. The anesthesiologist stopped in, someone I had known for many years through the hospital. She introduced herself to Aitch and said, “You know what? You have your daddy’s eyes.” I didn’t think too much of her observation until later when she was getting our family history, “…even though I know you don’t have her maternal history…” While I knew this woman, I wasn’t friendly enough with her to have ever mentioned Aitch was donor egg in a past conversation. I wondered if a common friend, who did indeed know, had told her.

The CRNA went on to explain quietly what her job would be during the procedure while Aitch seemed to be ignoring her as the stupor of the oral sedative (versed) worked its magic. The plastic syringe brought earlier containing the bright pink medicine frightened her at first as she believed it was a needle. She barely opened her mouth as they dispensed it. I discovered later that she had been paying close enough attention for someone in a drug-induced haze.

Then the performing dentist came in. I told him about the swelling and redness from two days before. He frowned and told me that if that’s the case, the tooth was worse than they had thought and they may have to pull it. With his assurance he would do what they could, I kissed Aitch’s brow good-bye. She weakly reached for me, but her eyes were closed, barely awake.

A sterile, lonely and quiet wait.
A sterile, lonely and quiet wait.

I took a seat in the lobby. For an hour I read my Kindle in solitude. I didn’t start to worry until the 60 minute mark, again thinking about her age and general anesthesia and the complications. The next 30 minutes dragged, the 15 after that were unbearable. In that time, I realized I must have a nervous bladder; I had gone to pee three times. Finally another nurse came to get me and escorted me to the family consulting room. There I waited several more minutes before the doctor came in. Aitch was recovering and they were cleaning her up. Unfortunately, he said, the tooth (upper left) that had been so painful and inflamed, was too decayed to save and was extracted. In fact, the bacteria had spread to the adjacent molar tooth and so a filling was applied.

The right upper first molar was also bad, but he thinks the pulpotomy and a silver crown (porcelain would have been too brittle) was applied. The two lower molars, right and left as well, only had to have fillings. I sent Sparring Partner a quick text with the news and I nearly cried. It must have been the combination of relief, tinged with so much regret (for all the things I had pointed out earlier plus letting a good part of me not believe the pain she had experienced was as bad as it must have been).

Holy Hole-in-a-Tooth, Batman!
Holy Hole-in-a-Tooth, Batman!

A nurse came then and led me to where I could see Aitch, awake and dazed. A couple of nurses were trying to get her to bite on a small wad of gauze to try to control some minor bleeding of the socket. She brushed weakly away their efforts until she noticed the IV in her arm. They attempted again to place the gauze, which was now tinted with saliva and blood. To top things off, a biohazard Ziploc bag was on her lap. In it was the tooth. A nasty-looking black hole from the caries bored nearly to the center; three prongs of roots sprouted from the end. She looked at that, and then she looked at me, and then started to cry.

I stood next to her and brushed the hair from her face and assured her that everything was OK. She calmed down soon enough, but remained fascinated by the gauze in her mouth. The nurse gave us an “elephant’s trunk” emesis bag, which she kept spitting into. However, the nurse observed that she showed signs of possibly being sick so she gave her another round of Zofran through the IV. We were then told that once Aitch was able to drink or eat a little bit of flavored slush, we could go home. I was surprised to discover that she wouldn’t have to worry about any after-affects of novacaine. The nurse mouthed silently to me “it makes kids c-r-a-z-y!” over the gurney.

The rough part: post-anesthesia.
The rough part: post-anesthesia.

She still looked like a crushed flower in the bed, droopy and spent. It was with the announcement that she could pick out a movie to watch until she felt better that she actually brightened a bit. A TV and a media cart were rolled to the foot of her bed and a large binder full of movie title photo-copies was given for us to select from. She finally settled on Sleeping Beauty. The movie was started and a cup of crushed orange ice was handed to her, and she eased back into the pillow and snuggled up with the blanket we had brought from home.

We were the last case of the morning so everything was quiet. She looked more alert and color was starting to come back around. She had also stopped trying to spit out blood and had asked for a refill of ice. The IV was removed at which time the nurse remarked they must have tried at least twice in the OR. About fifteen minutes later we were OKd to go. Aitch was given a ride in a wheelchair to our car and a short drive later, we were home. The first thing she asked for was some food. Not just any food, but a bowl of chili. It seemed an odd first meal request, but soft enough.

Latex allergy?? Unknown.
Latex allergy?? Unknown.

For the rest of the day, she played and acted as if nothing had happened. No aches or fatigue. The tooth was deemed “cool!” and a bargain was made to not give the tooth to the Tooth Fairy and instead I would take her to get the next edition of the My Little Pony comic book. By 7:00 that night, she and Doodicus were outside playing hoops. I was only concerned to see she had a slight reaction to where the staff had placed the adhesive patches from her chest and taped her eyes, but by the next day, the rash was barely visible. At her post-op, the dentist didn’t think it was a latex allergy, but he made a note in her chart.

I wouldn’t have done it any differently. She has had no more pain and only describes the area where the tooth is gone as being “ticklish” when food touches it. Selfishly I was happy to see that unless her head is tilted back and her mouth is wide open that neither the empty socket nor silver crown is noticeable. I now watch her brush to make sure she’s getting to the back, and upon the suggestion of her dentist, I picked up some fluoridated mouth rinse. The total monetary cost was $4400: $2.7k for the surgery center and anesthesiologist; $1.7k for the dentist to prepare three fillings, the pulpotomy, crown and extraction, as well as their “hospital fee” (which I know is an utterly bogus fee).

So as I said, I only decided to update here in case I needed to refer back to it someday. In fact, I was just looking over my Disney World posts from a couple of years ago. We didn’t take a family vacation this year and maybe we’ll go again in February 2015. Three years will have passed by then, and frankly that seems impossible the kids have aged that much since that memorable trip.

…and breathe out

...and breath out
…and breath out

I never would have imagined that at some point I would be able to move beyond the cement shoes of grief and anger, but slowly I’ve noticed I’m floating to the surface. My kids are…kids, I guess, and there’s no denying that babies have left the building. Not to say I don’t think about it, probably more than one should at my age and history. A couple of weeks ago I almost convinced myself that I was pregnant, which would have required the type of miracle that happened two-thousand and thirteen years ago. I bought a package of pregnancy tests even. Before I confirmed the negative results, I told myself I was being incredibly foolish because if by some act of divinity it had happened, any baby would be dead by the time of the first ultrasound, and if not, the nuchal test would tell me it should be.

Cynical much?

Actually I write that without the cynicism of old, because there’s no “hurt” carrying over. I daresay I was relieved that the test was negative. I never even mentioned it to Sparring Partner.

My incentive to write here again isn’t to get back into blogging, nor is it to create some kind of swan song. I thought it was important though to just let the people know who might have stumbled here from some kind of infertility and miscarriage loss, especially if recent, that eventually it really does get a little better. For me, I think it’s the kind of wound that calloused over, much like my melanoma scar. I know it’s there. I see it, but when I touch it, it’s like touching someone else’s skin.

I remember that very singular moment the ultrasound tech told me my baby had no heartbeat like it was yesterday when all I can do is pray I’ll eventually forget. In fact, it still makes my breath catch in recollection. However, I can no longer remember what Aitch smelled like as a newborn even though I buried my nose into her hair a thousand times over telling myself “Don’t ever forget this.”

But I have. I’m OK with that, too. Forgetting both good and bad events from the past years strikes me as being more “normal” than reliving just one or the other. On the other hand, while things are better relatively, they certainly are not perfect, what with SP’s dad gone; my mom’s hastened spiral into dementia; and Doodicus being on the cusp of puberty mixed with teen rebellion and brazen attitude.

I can’t even hazard to guess if I would feel this “OK” if I hadn’t had the successful donor cycle. Without being overly dramatic, I think I wouldn’t be AS much so or that it would have taken longer. Her healthy birth and what seems to be fairly normal development is an added salve to the end of any crappy day I might have. She will also be the one reason the wounds will never fully disappear. She’s the reminder of the hell on earth I walked through for. I couldn’t and wouldn’t have it any other way.

For now, I hope to continue that float up. Not too quickly or too soon as I fear once I break the surface, it shall mean I have died. It’s not too bad here. It’s OK.

November 18 – Ah Eff It

This is the only time I hadn’t been able to make it the 30 days of blog posts. It wasn’t that I was too busy (hello?? unemployed!”) or that I didn’t have anything to write (you can hardly shut me up on Facebook). It’s just that drive wasn’t there and you know what? That’s OK.

Aitch was diagnosed with a yeast infection. By the time the pediatrician examined her that afternoon of her appointment, blisters had formed down there. BLISTERS!! Can you imagine? As for the areas on her face, he doubted that the two pimply looking spots were impetigo, however there was a suspicious area under her nose that might have been, but meh, what’s the point of testing since he’s putting her on an antibiotic for the infection. The pediatrician explained how impetigo manifests when kids rub their runny noses with their sleeves (Aitch had a minor cold about a week before) which then causes the smallest abrasions under her nose, resulting in the infection that can easily spread across the surface of the skin.

I remembered a couple of years back when she had all the mysterious skin rashes that he said that she’s a carrier of latent staph. I asked him if it’s possible that she’s still carrying it. He said she could for the rest of her lift, so yes, any bacterial infection could very well be harboring MRSA. With that being said, he said the spot on her hip was NOT bacterial but indeed did look like a spider bite that was thankfully disappearing and healing very quickly.

He also said that he wasn’t going to test her for that either, since it just becomes a logistical nightmare, which I concur. The antibiotic he prescribed would be the same as if she had MRSA. Other than that, we were given instructions to use an over-the-counter athlete’s foot cream (we opted for the Desenex powder as she said the Lamisil ointment “burned”) and to treat the blisters with an OOC antibiotic  topical. Within three days, all signs and symptoms except for the blisters had vanished. She’s been very good about taking her medicine, which luckily is only twice a day, but I know it can’t taste good.

In a completely unrelated note, today was my first day that I didn’t go to my office. I’ve made excellent headway on converting the catch-all closet in the mudroom to an “office & school” supply closet. It’s been slow-going because as I move schtuff from one nook in the house I realize I’ve created a whole new area to organize. Busy work, busy work.

Speaking of which, I’ve started a private group on Facebook that was inspired by the Annual Holiday Card Exchange. If you want to join the group, which I can’t stress enough is PRIVATE, you can ask through this group address.

November 12 – infection?

Aitch has been scratching at her privates very indelicately claiming she itches down there. To my untrained eye I thought she may have something akin to a diaper rash, which wouldn’t have been a stretch considering she still has problems getting up to take bathroom breaks at night.

I started applying Butt Balm to her but after a couple of days the itching became extremely painful at which point we visited the urgent care.

The doctor there thought the rash was a yeast infection and advised me to apply lotramin. We are now two days into that treatment and yet she’s worse. This morning she has two zit-like cysts on her cheek (face) and another visual inspection of her bottom reveals she’s redder than ever and has broken out there, too. She told me the cream burns, so I didn’t use it. I also scheduled an appointment with her pediatrician tomorrow.

Insult to injury, it looks like she was the recipient of a particularly nasty spider bite on her hip. I’ve been applying Benadryl cream to the bite, but it gives her little relief.

I thought about running her an oatmeal bath tonight, but not sure if she should stew in any water at this point or not. FWIW, she doesn’t take bubble baths nor has she been on any antibiotics. She also doesn’t care for yogurt.

Any suggestions on some easy home recipes to give some relief? She’s pretty miserable.

November 11 – Forgotten

2013 036pse

I have a year’s worth of downloaded pictures taken with my camera that I have yet to sort through, edit and file. I found this one that was taken at the 4th of July parade. I’d completely forgotten I had taken this and several similar pictures until tonight. I’m thinking about doing a couple photo-books for my mom, whose dementia continues to progress. It’s been a full year since we decided that it’s no longer safe for grandma to drive 20 miles one way to spend a day with the kids in the house alone.

My brother told me that Saturday night after evening Mass, mom came over to their farm and spent an about an hour visiting. She left to go home, which is three miles away and a straight shot on the highway. Unfortunately, she showed back up at my brother’s farm and confessed she had gotten lost and couldn’t find her way home. My sister-in-law drove her vehicle while mom followed her home in her own car. Sure, part of it was probably because it’s now dark by the time she leaves church to head home, but this is not the first time she’s gotten lost driving. Yes, she still drives. I know. I know…

The time will come all too soon that she’ll forget whose face is above, much like how I’d forgotten I’d even taken the photo.

November 10 – Light Reno Scheduled

I have a contractor scheduled to come in this coming week to tear out and replace a part of the ceiling in our kitchen. Within a year of us moving in, we noticed a moisture stain, which now has spread down the beam. He’ll also be in the attic trying to determine why water is leaking through (or per the original builder of our home, it’s blowing snow) the vents and that it was the way we designed the home and there’s nothing that could have been done. Which come on?! What a crock of crap.

At this time, we will also replace the lights that hang over our peninsula in the kitchen. I was so scared to committing to pendant lights that I had the electrician install track lighting. Since it’s next to the beam, it just makes sense to switch it out now. I’m actually imagining a couple of these which are reminiscent of the lights we would use in the brooder house to keep the new chicks warm. My husband isn’t so sure.

10_inch_artesia_cord_hung_shade_galvanized

Just a short one for the day as I lost two hours to The Walking Dead and The Talking Dead. I won’t even facebook when those two shows are on.

November 9 – Emergency Date Night

Aitch and Doodicus are at those ages that my husband and I are comfortable going out for the evening for dinner and a movie. It’s nice to have the free time without worrying about rounding up a babysitter days in advance. Tonight we had made plans to go to our neighbor’s house for his birthday party. Keep in mind that this “neighbor” is a mile over, not next door. We make sure that the cell phone we keep in the house is charged and not muted and that Doodicus knows he can always call us if he needs something.

We first drove into town to get something for the cooler since the party was BYO, and then headed back out to their home, which all-in-all, took about 35-40 minutes from the time we left our house. We had just parked our truck when my cell phone rang. It was Doodicus. I answered and I immediately could hear Aitch screaming in the background. Doodicus quickly told me that the iPad had fallen on her nose and that it was bleeding quite a bit.

How does an iPad fall on one’s face? Those details are not important.

I got out of the truck’s passenger side and climbed back in behind the wheel and headed back home, leaving Sparring Partner at the neighbors. When I arrived home minutes later, Aitch was sitting on the couch, her face red from crying and a tissue held under her nose. She had a small pile of used tissues next to her, all with blood on them, but I could tell much of it was a mixture of blood and mucous from her recent head cold. She told me that Doodicus had advised her that crying would make it worse. He had even showed her how to pinch her nose and upper lip to slow the bleeding. She went on to tell me that “This is the worst thing that has ever happened to me!”

Both kids are now deep asleep. Aitch might have some swelling tomorrow, and she’s got some dried blood up the one nostril, but luckily she’s fine. Doodicus handled the situation, his first “emergency” on his own, exceedingly well. He addressed her needs first, getting her tissues and an ice pack, and then called us. He’s always made us proud, but there are these moments that help me see that he’s maturing and that he’s on his way to becoming a responsible adult.

Lowering your expectations since 2005.

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