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 condition...one 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 Thursday...as 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.