A few mishaps here and there
Ok, so remember last time I talked about Nathan face-planting in a parking lot and knocking his two front teeth loose? Well, this post is about the ensuing dentist visit.
Nathan hadn’t been to a dentist yet. It was something on our to-do list, but for some reason, I thought that kids didn’t need to see a dentist for teeth cleaning until they were three. (They actually need to go at age two.) So I called my dentist, who by the way is AWESOME.
Side story: I’ve been having some tooth pain but I didn’t have a dentist and had no idea who to call. So I asked my mother-in-law who she sees because she has some sort of innate ability to pick amazing doctors. I haven’t had my teeth cleaning in years (I know, shame on me!) because my last dental visit was rather traumatic. I had to get my wisdom teeth pulled, and my dentist at the time (who I had been seeing for almost 20 years) was becoming cranky and rude in his old age. My teeth were impacted, so they had to be cut out. I swear, I could feel every single bit of it even though I had numbing shots. As I was screaming in agony with tears flowing down my face, my dentist told me that it was “impossible” to feel pain after having the shots.
I have not been to a dentist since then.
So anyway, I went to my mother-in-law’s dentist and was blown away by how friendly the staff was, how careful they were with my mouth, and how knowledgeable and helpful the dentist was. I am scheduled for a deep cleaning soon, a couple fillings, and to replace an old filling… and I’m not feeling all panicky and anxious about it because I know they will take care of me.
What’s really cool about them is how understanding and compassionate they were towards Nathan. I didn’t have a sitter that day, so I had to bring him with me. He freaked out. Totally. Complete with hysterical screaming and thrashing… and he wasn’t even the one seeing the dentist! They were so understanding, however. They gave him three race cars, a bouncy ball, and let him play with a set of display teeth. They cajoled him and spoke softly with him, and even sat with him and played while I was getting x-rays. They were super awesome and they now have me as a client for life!
So back to my story. Since Nathan didn’t have a dentist, I called mine to see if they accept children his age. They said that they do… but only as long as the child will allow them to look into his or her mouth. I may have chuckled a little. With Nathan flying into hysterics when I WAS THE ONE SEEING THE DENTIST, I knew there was no way he would allow anyone to look into his mouth. So they recommended I take him to a pediatric dentist.
When I called, I warned them that my three-year-old is incredibly strong-willed and would more than likely fight tooth-and-nail (gotta love the pun) when they try to check his mouth. She replied that they only deal with children and they are used to it, so it wouldn’t be a problem.
When we walked into the door of the pediatric dentist, there was no wailing. No frightened screeching. No flowing of tears. The waiting room was kid-friendly (of course), complete with tons of books, a few toys, and some paper hot-air balloons swaying gently from the ceiling. When we walked in, Nathan took one look around and said “Wow!” as he darted towards the bookshelf. He scampered about the room, alternating between playing with toys, pawing through the books on the bookshelf, and running up to the receptionist to tell her over-and-over again what his last name is.
When it was time for us to be called back, Nathan went willingly. We went through a brightly-painted hall, passing by a display of neatly arranged stuffed animals as we walked into the equally festive and colorful dental room. Nathan willingly stepped onto the scale when they asked and hopped up onto the cleaning bed with a smile on his face.
Getting him to lay down was another story. He knew something was up, and he didn’t like it. The dental hygienist explained to him what they were about to do. After much ado, we were able to coax him into laying down. He fought somewhat but she was able to check his teeth to see if they were ok to clean (since he’d never had a cleaning before.) Even though his front teeth were loose, he was good to go for a cleaning. She showed him the “spinning toothbrush” and even let him hold it. She let him pick out the flavor of his “toothpaste” (grape) and the flavor of his fluoride treatment (strawberry.) But as soon as we tried to lay him down, the thrashing and screaming commenced full throttle.
Fortunately, they were able to work with him and we were able to get his teeth cleaned. And the good thing about a child screaming bloody murder during a cleaning is that their mouth is wide open, allowing great access! Lets just say that he fought so hard that he was completely covered in sweat by the time it was done. So much so that they had to wipe him down with tissues!
When it was finished, without any hesitation whatsoever, they whisked out three bins chalked full of toys onto the bed next to us and told Nathan to pick out what toys he would like. He picked out some cars and some stickers and proceeded to roll them happily around on the floor, even as his tears were still freshly glistening on his sweaty and flushed cheeks. But then Nathan wanted to roll his cars elsewhere, so two assistants escorted him out to the waiting room where they sat on the floor and played with him for THIRTY MINUTES while I spoke to the dentist about his tooth injuries.
Seriously, this dentist was super awesome and I was thankful and impressed that he took such a long time discussing it all with me.
Basically, Nathan had a 50/50 chance of loosing his two front teeth because his gums were so red and angry that either the teeth could die or their own or might have to be pulled for the good of the permanent teeth that are developing behind them right now. The dentist explained that it if the teeth survived, it would take about a month or longer for them to tighten up but in the meantime, Nathan could eat whatever he wanted as long as it was cut up into tiny bites. Absolutely no biting into anything with his front teeth, and no falling. He said just one more fall on those loose teeth and it would be over- the teeth would not survive.
So once we were finished, I walked back out to the waiting room and saw Nathan having a total blast with the assistants. They were all sitting on the floor, rolling cars back and forth. Nathan didn’t want to leave!! It was awesome how they took care of him and saw him as a person rather than a number. I felt like they really cared. I will definitely be using them for now on!
So as of today, it looks like Nathan’s teeth are going to survive. His gums have regained their healthy pink look and the swelling has disappeared. His teeth are still a little loose, but they are definitely tightening up. It looks like everything worked in his favor and he won’t lose his two front teeth, thank the Lord.
Did I mention that it’s stressful being a parent?
So it’s been a while since my last post. A lot has been going on here! The biggest news of all is that Nathan had another emergency room visit over the weekend.
I had just finished working out and was meeting Nathan and Paul at a nearby restaurant. I arrived first, so I got a table and waited for them to get there. Although I was sitting near the middle of the restaurant, I could still see them through one of the windows when they got there. I watched as Paul and Nathan got out of the car and started to head towards the door, and then saw Paul turn back towards the car to get something. When Nathan turned to follow him, he stumbled and fell. I couldn’t see exactly what happened, but I saw Paul swoop Nathan up and carry him back to the car. I just figured the little guy skinned his knee. And then I saw a woman quickly walk over to them with a roll of paper towels. Worried, I picked up my phone and started to text Paul to see if everything was okay when he called me and told me it was bad and that I needed to get out there. I quickly snatched up my things and briskly trotted out to the parking lot.
Then I saw a mound of bloody paper towels on the trunk of Paul’s car.
“Is he okay?” I asked the woman who was standing there. She gave me a sad smile and may have patted my arm. I can’t remember- I had tunnel vision and my entire focus was on my child. I ran around the side of the car and saw blood pouring like a faucet out of Nathan’s mouth.
“He fell and knocked his two front teeth loose,” Paul said as I knelt in front of my wailing child. With shaking hands, I raised Nathan’s upper lip and could see strands of skin hanging down from his mouth. His teeth were severely loose and blood was pouring from his gums and lips where he had nearly bitten through them. As you all probably know, mouth wounds bleed a lot. There was so much blood, however, that it was hard to see exacly what was going on. We went through so many paper towels trying to wipe up all the blood. After about half an hour, we were able to stop the bleeding enough to get him to the emergency room.
Nathan, being the spirited little boy that he is, was quite angry with the doctor checking his teeth. He screamed and kicked and sounded exacly like a wounded mountain lion. It was heartbreaking. Fortunately, the doctor was very understanding and patient and dealt gently with Nathan. He said that Nathan’s front two teeth were loose and his gums were angry and swollen, but he didn’t hit his head or have a concussion so he should be okay. He said to follow up with his dentist within the next few days so they can see exactly what kind of damage had been done. When he was finished, he hunted down a grape popsicle for the little guy, who tearfully slurped it up.
A nurse then came in who seemed very bitter and was apparently unfamiliar with children. She declared she needed to get his vitals (temperature, pulse, and blood pressure. *insert dry laughter.*)
“Well, we can’t take his temperature when he’s eating a popsicle,” she said with unmasked irritation as she eyed Nathan sadly slurping the icy deliciousness. No kidding, Ms. Smarty Pants. Then she tried to put his finger in a device that would read his pulse, but you’d think a viper was hanging onto Nathan’s finger the way he screamed about it. She kept telling him to sit still… seriously woman. HE’S ONLY THREE AND HE’S IN PAIN. And then? Then she tried to take his blood pressure. THAT was an EPIC FAIL. He kicked and writhed and screamed and frantically tried to get the cuff off his arm while screaming that it hurt. He knocked the wires loose, aggravating Ms. Meanie even more. She said he needed to sit still and calm down or she wouldn’t be able to get a reading.
I may have laughed a little loudly.
Of course, she couldn’t get a reading for his blood pressure because he was way too upset. “Well,” she huffed. “It won’t read because he won’t calm down.” No shit, Sherlock. She pretty much yanked the cuff off his arm, irritation oozing from her pores so thickly it was almost tangible. Apparently, this woman had never been in the same room with a child before. I think she should find a different job.
At any rate, after all that, we were finally able to head home. Nathan’s upper lip was so swollen from the impact that he looked like a pitiful little duckling. His gums were a vicious purple color, and the abrasions on his upper and lower lips were bright red. Poor kid looked like he had been through the mill. We stopped at a nearby ice cream parlor and let him eat his fill of chocolate ice cream, which lifted his little spirits somewhat.
After all that, next on the agenda was getting him to a dentist. That’s another post in and of itself, so I’ll write about that next time.
In the meantime, keep the little man in your prayers.
This past week was stressful.
Nathan has his first visit to the Emergency Room on Wednesday. We were at the park, having a good ole time together. We were the only ones there. We had initially met one of my friends and her kids, but after they left, I decided to let Nathan stay a bit longer. Then, a couple of men appeared from nowhere and walked around the play area, staring at us the whole time. Then they stood off to the side and talked to each other for a few minutes while continuing to stare at me and Nathan. They started walking back towards the play area, making me nervous… they were in their early-to-mid twenties and had no business hanging out at a playground without having kids there themselves. They sauntered over to the swings and proceeded to swing while still watching us.
I grabbed ahold of Nathan’s hand and told him that it was time to go. I’m not a paranoid person, but I started thinking that if I screamed, it would take the nearest person at least 30 seconds to run to us… that is, if anyone even bothered to help. I had tunnel vision- I was focused on getting us out of there so I wasn’t paying as much attention as I should have been to Nathan, therefore I was unable to anticipate what he did next.
When he saw we were walking back towards his stroller, he had a temper tantrum and collapsed into an angry little crying heap on the ground. Since I had a firm grip on his hand, it dislocated his elbow. I realized something was wrong when Nathan started crying in pain, grabbing his forearm with his right hand, and pinching his skin.
“Hurt! Scared, Mommy!” he wailed as he cradled his injured arm.
When I saw what I had done, I got sick to my stomach and almost threw up on myself. Fortunately, the hospital was just a couple blocks away, so we made a trip to the ER. The doctor was very nice and empathetic, and said that what happened is actually quite common and is called Nursemaid’s Elbow. He was able to quickly maneuver the elbow back into place.
When the doctor told Nathan it was all done and okay to use his arm now, Nathan refused to believe him. He walked to the door and jiggled the door handle.
“Wanna go bye bye! Go home? Pweese? Home?” he cried as tears trickled down his cheeks.
“Not yet, little man. I need you to give me a high five so I can see that you move your arm,” replied the doctor.
“NO! HOME!” Nathan wailed pitifully.
“Come here, Nathan,” I said. As I gathered the boy up in my arms I said, “I’m going to kiss your elbow, and when I do, it’s going to be all better ok? No more hurt.” And I kissed his little arm up and down. When I was done, Nathan stopped crying, raised his arm to his face, and gave me a big tear-filled smile.
“All better, Mommy! Thanks!” he said happily.
Sometimes they just need Mommy’s kiss, huh?
Well, the story doesn’t end there, unfortunately. A couple days later, on Friday, we went to a Mommy Lunch. It’s hosted once or twice a month by a local hospital for moms (and dads too!). It’s free, and it lasts for about an hour. They have toys set out and volunteers there to watch the kids so the moms can enjoy a meal while the kids play. It was raining that day, so when it was time to leave, I held my purse, diaper bag (each weighing approximately as much as a Sumo Wrestler), and a giant umbrella with my left arm. I held on to Nathan with my right hand.
I wasn’t thinking.
And of course, in the parking lot, what did Nathan do?
He LUNGED away from me. While I was holding his hand. In the rain. With cars around.
So his elbow was dislocated a SECOND time in just two days.
Panicking, I picked him up and raced back inside. The lady who runs the mommy group is a nurse, so I went straight to her, told her what happened, and asked her if she could fix it. By this time, I was sobbing. I could not believe this happened to my child AGAIN… TWICE. She said that yes, she knew how to fix it, but she wasn’t legally allowed to so I would have to take him to the ER again.
Which would have been fine. But our insurance copay for emergency room visits is $100. We aren’t poor by any means, but we are a family of three living off of one income, a total of $200 for two ER visits is a lot of money to fork out unexpectedly in a span of just two days. So I relayed my concern to the nurse, and she is actually close friends with Nathan’s pediatrician. A $25 copay for an office visit is much more manageable than $100. Unfortunately, she could not get ahold of him on his cell, so she tried calling the office. They said they preferred I take him to the ER. When she told them about the steep copay, they said they could look at him if we stopped first and got him x-rayed. That was so unneccessary… his arm was not fractured or broken. There was no swelling, no discoloration, and Nathan was running around the room playing. He was not in nearly as much pain as he was when it happened at the park. I was waaaaay more upset by his dislocated elbow than he was.
So anyway, after the pediatrician’s office said that, I said I would call my husband and see what he wanted to do. I hated bothering him at work, and I knew he would be aggravated with me for holding onto the same arm that Nathan dislocated just two days prior. I feel so horrible for repeating the same mistake again. I’m supposed to protect my child from harm, not cause it.
Paul wanted to come by and see how it looked (since he was nearby anyway, finishing up his lunch break) and then we would figure out what to do from there. When he arrived, he took one look at Nathan’s elbow and said that we definitely needed to go to the ER. It wasn’t distorted or anything, but it was limp and it hurt Nathan to move it. Paul didn’t want to try to move the arm around and said it was best to let a doctor do it. It’s better to be safe than sorry…
SO. Back to the ER. We were taken into the triage room after only 5 or 10 minutes, ahead of the other people that were there. Once we were in the triage room (they recognized us since we were just there), a Physician’s Assistant came in, reset Nathan’s elbow in less than a second, and we were ready to go. He also showed me how to do it myself since this keeps occurring. As we were waiting on the paperwork, I talked to the triage nurse about what happened. I was a sobbing mess; I felt absolutely horrible for allowing this to happen again. She told me that yes, I was holding the same arm, but had I been holding the other arm, the it could have happened to the other arm. She said that some kids are just inherently more prone to it because of soft, growing ligaments and that it’s not something I should beat myself up over because it’s a fact-of-life; it happens. Some kids, she said, have been in the ER 10-15 times for it. It’s quite common and it’s something they see all the time. She also said it’s even more common in strong-willed children (like Nathan) because they try even harder to get away from their parents. Regardless, I still felt horrible.
So once the paperwork came, she sent me to checkout. And get this… they didn’t charge a copay!! Can you believe it? I even specifically asked if there was one, just to be sure, and they said no.
Wow. What a relief.
So I’ve come up with a plan to hopefully prevent this from ever happening again. Nathan has a little monkey harness. It’s like a tiny back-pack that straps around his chest, and it has a really long tail that the parent can hold on to. I haven’t used it yet because, I didn’t know this until I became a mommy, they are “controversial.” Some people are busybodies, and they opine that putting a child on a harness akin to treating them like an animal. They bloviate about how parents should teach their children not to run away from them, and how parents need to parent, and how “leashes” (as they love to call them) are the lazy way out.
Well, these people apparently have never had an abnormally strong-willed, exceptionally determined child with a habit of attempting to wrench himself away from the parent with such force that his elbow becomes dislocated. So their opinions about how I choose to keep my child safe are irrelevant to me. If anyone has the audacity to reprimand me for choosing not to risk another dislocated elbow, I will politely inform them them that this is my choice to keep my child safe due to being in the ER twice for a dislocated elbow. I am not going to be leading him around like a puppy. I will have him hold my hand and the harness will be a backup, that way if he lets go of my hand, there is no danger of him running into traffic, etc.
I’m so glad this week is over. It was emotionally exhausting. Nathan is perfectly fine now, though. After they reset it, any pain he had completely disappeared. There is no lingering pain, and he immediately regained full use of his arm again. He’s back to being his typical little self. I was more traumatized by the two ordeals than my child was. I hope it never, ever happens again. It’s such a nauseating, disheartening feeling to cause your child pain.
Nathan locked me out of the house. Again. Except this time, I made sure to have my keys with me before I walked out. So I unlocked the door and came inside.
“Nathan, no no! You don’t touch the door!” I said as I shut the door behind me.
“I sowy!” Nathan said.
“I know you’re sorry,” I said, “but you’re not allowed to touch the door. You locked Mommy out again.” Then Nathan’s little eyes filled with tears.
“I in biiiiiiiiiiiiiiig twouble,” he moaned as the tears spilled out of his eyes, leaving little paths of glistening sadness on his cheeks. I may have melted just a little. I opened up my arms and drew my son to me.
“This is your warning,” I said as I held him close. I really, REALLY didn’t want to put the little guy in time out because my heart was already breaking seeing him cry. “But next time, ” I continued, “you won’t have a warning. You’ll have Big Trouble for sure and a time out.”
“I sowy, Mommy” he said against my neck.
I love that kid. I love him more than anything in this world.