Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Biting the Bullet.

Last week we took the younger kids to the dentist.  I figured Lizzie's teeth were ok (and they were) but we knew just by looking at them that Seth's teeth were in pretty dreadful of the frequent happenings with older children coming home from Ethiopia.  I'd been dreading the dentist visit since my first glance into Seth's mouth, the day we took custody of the kids and first attempted to brush their teeth. It really is a bit of a mess.  Given all of the work that his mouth needs, we were told that a general anaesthetic would be preferable to doing the work in the chair over multiple visits.  A consult with the pediatric dental surgeon was arranged for today, and we were told that we would wait 4-8 weeks for that surgery to happen.

The first thing the surgeon told me when I arrived with the kids is that she had a last minute surgery cancellation, and that she has scheduled Seth for surgery this in, tomorrow!  Today I have to get his pre-op physical done and faxed in, and we need to have him in to the operating clinic by 7:00am tomorrow.  I did insist on the surgery being done first thing in the morning (so they did a bit of juggling for me), explaining that our kids are recently home from ET and that it's very important that they not miss a meal opportunity...I couldn't bear the thought of denying him food before getting him under the general anaesthetic.

The surgeon will be pulling multiple teeth (likely five), putting crowns in at least three others (he'll have a stainless steel mouth!), putting two or three spacers in, and a bunch of other work that didn't even penetrate by that point in the dissertation.  When I asked for a list of the details, along with accompanying costs, the number of things to be done filled an entire, typewritten page...single spaced.  I don't even want to talk about the anticipated cost.

The poor little gaffer has no idea what's about to happen to him.  Geoff suggested that I take the kids for a traditional ET meal today so that an Amharic-speaking restaurant owner can try to explain to him in simple terms that his teeth and mouth are going to be fixed up tomorrow.  I thought that was a great idea and will try to make that happen.

I have no idea how much this will set us back in terms of attachment progress, but I'm sure it will have at least a short term impact.  The good news is that he should be back to himself within a couple of days (dare I believe that?); the surgeon even suggested (not knowing what's been going on in our house) that we may even see a change in his disposition (hmm!), given that he's currently in a state of either discomfort or pain at the moment - something that we believe because he often holds his left cheek and has indicated that he is experiencing tooth pain.  I guess I would too, if I had rotting teeth in there.

Anyway, I'm a bit anxious about tomorrow, and can hardly wait for the next couple of days to pass us by. The other piece of good news in all of this is that I keep hearing from other adoptive parents that their kids don't tend to remember a lot of the first few weeks home...maybe this (further) traumatic event will just slide into hazy memory for Seth.  Oh, I do hope so.


  1. Hi Ruth, It is great that you are doing it now. We waited to have Tegegn's teeth done (check out my blog post today) and I regret it. I wish I would have done it as soon as he arrived home. Tegegn had major work done as well, and was running around playing by the afternoon. Good luck! It was harder on me than him.

  2. Poor little guy! I will be thinking about him tomorrow and about you as you bite your nails waiting for him. Hopefully he will feel a lot better after a couple of days.

    Thinking about you all


  3. Got you guys covered! Hope it goes well and healing comes quick- physical and emotional.

  4. Yikes. We've finished both kids' dental surgery (took a LONG time to get slotted in) and the pre-op hunger was terrible. They had been with us long enough to understand what was happening, and to have a fragile trust that they WOULD get food later... but it was really traumatic. Lots of tears and lots of begging for food -- heartbreaking.

    One thing we've found is that the kids both have an enormous respect for doctors. They will accept absolutely anything if I tell them that the Dr. "said so." It worked for us well when we simply told them that the Dr. said they couldn't eat pre-op. Not sure if you have enough language for that yet (or if your children are old enough), but perhaps an Amharic friend could help you out.

    Good luck to all of you!

  5. Our daughter had a LOT of dental work done, so this sounds very familiar! She'd been living with so much pain for a long time. The surgery went well and she bounced back really quickly-hoping Seth does the same!

  6. Hey Ruth,

    Poor little guy! Can`t imagine going through the process or paying the bill for that matter. But the silver lining is that tending to him post surgery will be a cool attachment opportunity! All the best! Praying for everyone tomorrow.

  7. Oh Ruth, you must be a nervous wreak, I can feel it in your words. I'll pray for you and Seth A.

  8. Poor little guy- probably a blessing that the surgery is so soon, as he must be in a fair bit of pain. I'll be thinking of you, and hoping that everything goes smoothly.
    My husband has had dental work done under general anesthetic numerous times, and after sleeping it off for the afternoon, feels ok-so hopefully your impact will be short lived. Does he have adult teeth in yet, or is the work being done on his baby teeth?

  9. I will be keeping you and Seth in mind tomorrow. As someone who's had a lot of dental work done, I can say that most of the pain is gone within a day or so, with some remaining discomfort for 2 - 3 days. Likely he will feel better than he does now by Friday evening (my guess).

  10. Good luck tomorrow Ruth. I'll be thinking of you & Seth. Good thinking about getting it done first thing in the morning. Just a thought but since food is a bit of an issue, make sure to have lots of soft food on hand for after. Also make sure it is something everyone can eat too. I've had a tooth pulled as an adult and also had adult braces and it really helps to have yummy soft foods on hand for when your mouth is hurting. It also helped that my hubby had the braces too so he was eating the same things I was. I didn't feel like I was missing out on something such as he was eating steak and I only had the mashed potatoes. Just a thought.