As I was reading through some of my favorite blogs this evening, I came across this post over at Highly Irritable about her son's less-than-pleasant visit to the dentist. As I read about her little boy's experience, I was flooded with the memory of a day back in the fall.
Benjamin came to me one day, finger in his mouth, and said, "Mom...what's this bump in my mouth? It hurts a little." As he said that, my mind flashed to several previous nights when he had said "ouch" as I passed over that area with the toothbrush.
I peered inside his mouth to see a good size bump directly above his tooth. Confident that I knew what it was, I said, "I bet that's a piece of popcorn that got stuck under your gums. That happens to me all the time. We have been eating a lot of popcorn lately, right?"
He nodded, finger still in his mouth.
"If you give it a little time, the piece will work it's way out of the gums. Okay?"
"Okay." He didn't look convinced.
That was on a Tuesday. The following morning, I looked at the bump again. It had gone down considerably but he said it was still sore. I told him the popcorn had probably come out, but his gums might be tender for a bit.
On Thursday, he came to me again to say it was still hurting and could I take a look. The swelling had come back and he flinched when I touched it. After he left for school, I called the dentist to make an evening appointment. Luckily, I got an appointment late enough that Nick was home from work and I could leave the other kids with him.
When Ben came home from school, I asked if I could look at it again. It seemed to have become even bigger during the day. And when I gently (with the touch of a feather, I tell you) touched his gums, the bump began to ooze a yellow substance.
OH. MY. GOD.
At this point, I realized it was an infection. (Oh, thank you, Captain Obvious. Would the yellow pus have been your first or last clue?)
I did my best to hide my complete horror at the sight of YELLOW PUS OOZING FROM MY SON'S GUMS.
Deeeeep breeeeeath. "Okay, Ben. There's some stuff coming out of the bump. It's okay, though. We're just going to have you clean your mouth with warm salt water. Just put the water into your mouth, slosh it around, and spit it out. Don't swallow it."
Silently, I kept saying, "He'll see the dentist tonight. Everything's fine."
But still.....YELLOW PUS? GAH!
Nick came home from work. Ben and I left for the dentist. As soon as we pulled out of the driveway, the questions started.
"Will I have to get a pinch?" (That's the word we use instead of "shot". I always thought it sounded a little less intimidating.)
"I really don't know, Ben, and I don't want to say yes or no. I still think it's a piece of popcorn that got stuck and now it's infected. We just have to see what the doctor says."
"What's he going to do?"
"Honey, I really really don't know. Maybe he'll just have to drain it out and give you some antibiotics or something."
I could sense his unease. Thank heaven he'd brought his video game along to keep his mind busy.
We got to the dentist and he appeared to immediately know what was wrong and what would need to be done. He took an x-ray and called me into the hallway.
"He has an abcess, which is an infection. The root of his tooth is infected and we have to pull the tooth out tonight."
"Wait. What? TONIGHT? Uh....um......uh........"
"Well, if you would like, you could wait until tomorrow and call a pediatric oral surgeon. I have someone I can recommend but he's pretty much going to do the same thing we'll do here."
"It's really up to you, but I can certainly take care of it tonight, if you'd like."
(Have I mentioned that I'm not so good in situations like this?)
We decided to get it over with right away, simply because an infection isn't anything to mess around with. And the fact that it was OOZING? Well that tells me the situation is pretty serious.
Ben is a very serious, sensitive little 7-year-old who is terrified (TERRIFIED) of needles. He was given the numbing cream first to take the edge off and the dentist tried his best to keep the needle out of sight.....but Ben still managed to catch a glimpse of it.
He wimpered at first. And then a tear rolled down his cheek. And then another. We all knew this wouldn't be easy.
After numbing him, Dr. A started working the tooth out. It was stubborn. Ben wasn't in pain, but he was scared and uncomfortable. He cried loudly and kept saying "OW OW OW".
Dr. A was putting a lot of effort into removing the tooth and Ben wasn't making the job any easier. So Dr. A, in a fit of bad-doctor-itis, said, "You have to cut that out! You're making this more difficult."
With my hair standing on end, I said, "Don't say that to him."
I glanced up at the nurse and she gave me a look that said, "Good for you. He's out of line."
Not sure if he'd heard me the first time, I said again, "Don't you talk to him like that."
He looked at me and got the point. After the tooth was removed and I got Ben calmed down, Dr. A pulled me into the hallway and apologized repeatedly. I accepted his apology and let the matter go.
After all, Dr. A is only human and might have been having a bad day, which is why I accepted his apology. We've had many good appointments with him and I have no reason to believe that his bedside manner is lacking (or non-existent).
That being said, I think if there's a scared little boy in his chair, he ought to be on his very best behavior....which is why I spoke up.
Maybe next time he'll remember that little boys come with Mommas....
and you better not mess with this Momma's little boy.