Empowerment at the Dentist’s Office

The night before my son’s tooth extraction I split my time between agonizing over my failure to protect his sweet little teeth and the idea of general anesthesia for his extraction. The horrors of putting my son to sleep quickly outweighed my guilt over stringent brushing.

I googled tooth questions past midnight. I followed this with a massive dose of cute animal videos ( me in kitty format! ) until I felt sleepy.

Early the next morning, Liev became the heart of a swirl of blond hygienists. Four or five women flitted about. I could not tell them apart. They looked like sisters and aunts at a dental family reunion.

As a nurse lectured my husband about the various options for Liev’s procedure, I added my blondness to the circling extraction maelstrom. Egor came to Liev and asked him if he would like to try “laughing gas” and stay awake or take a shot to relax or have a “house” (IV for anesthesia) and sleep.

This raised eyebrows—our culture assumes five-year-olds can’t decide things for themselves. Yet, a deep part of our parenting philosophy is empowerment. Papa’s idea was to give Liev some control over what was happening to him. This would make the experience less frightening.

Liev chose laughing gas and a numbing shot.

I held Liev’s hand and talked about Grandma and Grandpa and their scuba diving adventures as they administered the gas. Liev soon released my hand and the hovering aunties took over. The tooth was removed in minutes.

Liev is now unafraid of the dentist. He made a little if-then flow chart of what will happen at his cleanings and fillings. I plan to take the same approach to tooth brushing. We will have toothbrush choices and toothpaste choices. We can brush our teeth in the bathroom, TV room or by the mailbox.

Twice a day. We can do it.

Holy Crap, Here’s Your Influenza

Poor, poor Egor!!! After his Mama left, he came down with my horrible flu. And I mean horrible. I have never seen him this ill. Fever of 102, chills, sweats, aches, nausea. I put spare sheets next to the bed so he could change them after he sweat through them.

I am scared for him. This morning at six he told me he was having pain on the right side of his chest. It hurt so much he couldn’t lie down flat. His blood pressure was so low he felt dizzy. We got him in to see a doctor first thing this morning and they ran an EKG.

His heart is okay, but he might have viral pneumonia. The low blood pressure came from losing too much fluid to the fever. He’s on bed rest and both of us are disgusted with being so ill for so long. Since we sent Liev to KinderCare, we have been sick, sick and sick. We discussed removing him from the program for the 1,000th time.

My Husband Readies Son For Preschool

At 2:30 this morning, Liev discovered that his new crib bumper was the work of the devil. Dazed, Egor took him downstairs for Jell-O as I cursed and struggled with the fabric ties on the bumper. Nausea struck me. By the time I settled the baby down to sleep, I nausea had incapacitated me. Dizzy and sick, I rousted Egor to whip me up a glass of stomach medicine his mom had brought from Russia–she knew that I kept picking up tummy bugs from Liev and thought it might help.

So, my next few hours were spent fretting that the unknown medicine would kill me in my sleep, especially since my belly cramped painfully (subsequent research revealed that the substance is as harmless as charcoal).  At 6:20, when Egor came in to wake me for the morning routine, I told him I was too sick and that he would have to get Liev ready for school by himself.

Throughout the history of humanity, a more shocked expression of a man’s face has never existed! It was as if I had told him he needed to amputate my left leg with a butter knife while singing “America the Beautiful.” To add to the comedy, he donned his favorite hoodie backward.

I felt so miserable; I didn’t even laugh. I fell back asleep after answering countless questions and reminding Egor a dozen times to not forget Liev’s blankie.

I recovered enough in the afternoon to get out of bed and make my way downstairs where Tanya helped with Liev, who once again skipped his nap. I let go of my expectations to do all the mothering and trekked back upstairs for more sleep. I cannot fathom the amount of illness that has passed through our house. Were our physicals and doctor’s visits not so sound, I would wonder if we would be on a future TLC program on medical mysteries.

Cosmetic Surgery?

I went back to see Dr. Rubble, who informed me that my infection had cleared, but that my incision needs to remain open to heal and prevent re-infection. He also reminded me to Q-tip my wound but shot me a look that suggested that he knew I’d avoid Q-tipping at all costs.

He discussed the possibility of me having an unlovely scar on my left breast that might need revision (aka a cosmetic procedure), but that we’d worry about that after I have healed. Yep. I will need it. I feel rather depressed and self-conscious over the whole thing. Not that a nude photoshoot or Girls Gone Wild appearance is on my to-do list. But man, I don’t want to look like a Fangoria centerfold either….

>The Waiting Room

Much gratitude to Mom for springing into action at a moment’s notice to help my disabled self! She has baby-sat, given me rides, stopped by the store, picked up prescriptions, and cooked meals for us. Whew!  Today she did double baby-sitting duty at 2 am for Liev and at 10 am for me at the doctor’s office. In anticipation of another painful procedure, I took a full dose of pain meds leaving me feeling groggy. I needed her to drive and take notes on Dr. Rubble’s latest treatment plan.

We were lucky enough to snap up the last two unoccupied seats in a waiting room packed full of miserable looking couples. A half-hour into our wait, we encountered one of Egor’s senior colleagues, Dr. Crowe, who we knew to be a cancer survivor. Walking hunched with a cane, he looked disturbingly bloated. His eyes were yellowish and bulged unhealthily; one was cocked permanently to the far left. I tried not to appear shocked by his condition, but I am a lousy actress. Nevertheless, he chatted amiably with a smooth graciousness that only Christopher Walken should be able to pull off. I admired his affable attitude made a mental note to send him a card.

After another ten minutes passed, our neighbor Mr. D entered with his wife.  She looked very unwell and in considerable pain. Although the couple recognized me, they immediately avoided eye contact. I took the hint and remained silent, but I felt sorry for them, both for being there and for feeling the need to avoid me. Mom and I continued to chat and make jokes, being occasionally joined by Mr. Crowe and his wife. Some of the other patrons smiled at our hilarity. I wondered how many people we annoyed. When they finally called Mr. Crowe, he came over to shake hands with us before he left. What a cool guy.

When it was my turn, Dr. Rubble gave me a thorough inspection and answered my neurotic questions (yes, you can take Ibuprofen, use any brand of Q-tip, and of course, your antibiotic and pain meds are compatible with breastfeeding, etc.). He pronounced me well, reminded me to shower and Q-tip clean and said he’d see me next Friday. On the way out, I gave the lone Mr. D a nod and sympathetic smile, which he grimly returned.