Brave Little Soldier

Today was the day that Brendan was scheduled to have his tooth pulled.  He’s been getting steadily more nervous as the date approached, and it took all of our skill to keep him from having multiple meltdowns since he was so out of sorts.  This morning was the worst by far.  He was so agitated that I seriously considered keeping him home from school, but I figured that school might distract him better than sitting around at home waiting for his appointment.

Sending him to school did nothing for my nerves however.  I’m not one to normally fear the dentist.  I’ve been through just about every dental procedure possible, so nothing phases me anymore.  But I also know how much getting a tooth pulled can hurt, and the last thing I wanted to do was put my buddy through that situation.  Besides, I knew how upset he was about the whole situation, and again I don’t like to see my baby boy so nervous.

I figured by the time I picked him up from school he would be an absolute wreck.  But I was wrong.  He came running up to the car all smiles.  I was in shock.  Could he actually have forgotten that today was his appointment?  I didn’t think so, but why else would he be smiling so much.  It only took him a matter of seconds to fill me in.  Apparently his teacher had given him two extra hugs on his way out of school to wish him luck on his appointment.  I should have known.  Nothing makes Brendan smile quite like hugs from his teacher.

We quickly stopped by home to brush his teeth before the appointment, and then headed for the dentists office.  On the way there Brendan had some questions about what was to come.  We’d explained that the dentist would numb his tooth before pulling it out, but hadn’t really gone into details.  We didn’t want to worry him more than was necessary.  Well he finally asked how the dentist would make his tooth numb and I was forced to explain that he’d have to get a shot.  The fear this information caused him showed clearly on his face.  I went on to explain that unlike shots at the pediatricians office the dentist used a numbing gel on his gums before doing the shot so he’d hardly feel it.  That seemed to calm him quite a bit.

We arrived for the appointment almost 20 minutes early.  Thankfully our dentist wasn’t very busy and they took him back early.  Once in the chair, Brendan began to absolutely quiver with fear.  I felt so bad for him, but there was nothing I could do except hold his hand and talk soothingly to him.

The appointment didn’t get off to the smoothest of starts.  The hygenist asked me which tooth was being pulled.  I had a general idea, but there’s like 4 teeth in this one small section the orthodontist had indicated to me and I wasn’t 100% sure which one it was.  The orthodontist was supposed to send the information over to my dentist before this appointment and from the way the hygenist was talking he hadn’t.

But as it turned out she was just uninformed.  The dentist came in a few minutes later and knew exactly what was going on and which tooth needed to be removed.  He talked to Brendan about what he’d be doing and did his best to comfort him as well.  This is what we love about this dentist.  He has a very good bedside manner, he understands that there are a lot of people who don’t like the dentist and does everything he can to make the experience as painless as possible.

So it was today.  Knowing that Matt has a history of being anxious during dental procedures, and seeing how agitated Brendan was he recommended that we use laughing gas to help relax Brendan.  He put the mask on and let Brendan sit for a few minutes before bringing out the novocain shot.  I think this was the right way to handle it.  Brendan was so fixated on the mask over his nose and had had enough gas at that point to really not care what the dentist was doing at that point.

The doctor talked to him all through the process, and Brendan didn’t even twitch when they gave him the novocain shot.  I have to give him credit for that one.  Despite how cool, calm, and collected I am at the dentist, the novocain shot gets my heart racing every time.  I have a serious fear of needles.  They don’t hurt that much, but the sight of one piercing skin is enough to make my skin crawl.  I can’t watch, and I practically hypervenhilate every time.

As brave as he was to get the shot, I wasn’t expecting what happened next.  Again, the dentist let him sit for a few minutes while the novocain kicked in.  He’d told Brendan what to expect as his lip and tounge grew numb, but despite the preparation once the numbness started to take effect Brendan freaked out.  I’m not sure if it was just the unusual experience, or if it was the effects from the laughing gas as well but he was scared out of his mind.

It was almost like dealing with someone who was hallucinating.  The hygenist and I both talked soothingly to him and told him over and over that what he was feeling was perfectly normal, but he didn’t seem to even hear us at first.  We finally got him calmed down in time for the dentist to come back in and complete the procedure.

I’ll spare you the details of the actual tooth extraction.  Mainly because I didn’t watch.  I might be brave, but I’m also not stupid.  I didn’t want to see that, and since Brendan’s face was mostly obscured from his gas mask he couldn’t see that I wasn’t watching.  It was over in a matter of minutes, and Brendan had only given one grunt of discomfort during the procedure.

They sat him up and put some gauze in place to stem the small bit of bleeding.  It was over, the hard part finished.  Now all we had to do was take him home and baby him for the evening to make us feel better about the whole thing.  But before we even got him out of the chair, he began to freak out again, worse than he had when he’d first started to go numb.  It took a moment to understand what was upsetting him, but it turned out that the novocain had spread enough to make part of his neck go numb and because he couldn’t feel his neck he thought he couldn’t swallow.

Working himself up over the swallowing thing then in turn made him dizzy, and we ended up sitting in the dentist chair for quite a while before he was ready to go.  But eventually I loaded him up into the car and headed for home.  He said he was still feeling a little dizzy so once home I set him up on the couch just like I would if he had the flu. Matt gave him his Skylander figures we’d gotten to help ease him through this ordeal, then let him watch cartoons until he stopped feeling dizzy.

Within an hour he was feeling about 90% better, and by dinner time he was 100% better.  We babied him anyway.  Like I said it was more to make us feel better than him.  As I sit here writing this he’s getting himself ready for bed, and from the looks of it, there will be no long term ill effects from this experience.

Little does he know there’s one more surprise coming up in the morning.  The tooth fairy pays extra for teeth that were pulled after all…

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