Unexpected Surgery

Sometime in late February, I noticed a little dark spot on one of Josh’s molars. On March 16th, at Josh’s 2.5 year check-up, I asked his pediatrician about his molars–she got a brief look (Josh certainly didn’t let her linger) and said that she possibly saw some decay or just heavy plaque that needed to be removed. She recommended that I see a dentist before summer. So last week, Josh was up at night about every hour, beating on his left cheek. I thought it might be an ear infection and his school had noted a low-grade fever on Monday. Of course, Chris was out of town on business during all of this. By Wednesday night, Josh was able to communicate to me that the back of his mouth hurt. I seriously thought he might be getting a third set of molars. He was in so much pain that the promise of mommy providing some relief enticed him to allow me into his mouth with a flashlight. I was horrified–hole, after hole in the molars. I somehow snagged an emergency appointment with a Pediatric resident at the U of M on Thursday morning. Josh thought she might also be fixing his pain so he remarkably opened wide for her, even when she used the scary spiky instrument to tug at his crumbling molars. Yes, I gasped in horror as pieces of tooth just flaked away from the worst molar (the one I noticed in February). I cannot even imagine what caused the rapid decline. It is, however, very likely that his poor teeth developed at the same time all of the bones of his middle ear did a misfire. And goodness knows, the eating with him has been so rough that we’ve used sugar-based foods just to make greater inroads with him towards new textures and the like. I am not proud of his diet at this time. Not at all. I want to make sweeping changes; today. But it doesn’t work that way. And I am not sure how it works. I had Ethan (on spring break) take Josh to the park after his appointment on Thursday so that I could sob. Somehow hearing the dentist tell the hygienist, “occlusion” about seven times that morning just broke my heart and spirit. I mean, I’ve stayed at home with Josh for almost three years now and I feel like I’ve hovered over his every move. He’s never had even one bottle (exclusively breastfed). I’ve tried to do everything I can for his language development, his sensory issues, his brain development, his social skills, his eating habits–to the extent that I have any control, and we even have been brushing his teeth the best we can (albeit only once in the evening) with his sensory issues. I feel completely blind sighted by this mouth of decay.

I am awaiting a call from the hospital scheduling Josh’s priority surgery, which will likely involve the placing of seven (possibly eight) silver crowns on his molars (one molar may still be in tact). There is also the chance that not all molars will be able to be saved–but I am steadfastly believing they will all be retained. While he’s sedated, they’ll take X-rays and try to see if anything else is going on. Oh me, oh my. More sedation. More fasting for six hours before surgery. More letting complete strangers take my little boy away from me, while I trust them to do the very best for him possible. And all the while, Josh has huge oral aversion/defensiveness.

The upside in all of this is that I think we might have found the reason for Josh’s frequent night wakings. I also think some of this may have to do with his jaw alignment and bite. I think that the edges of the top molars dig into the bottom ones and vice versa. So hopefully while under sedation, they’ll get a better idea if there is anything they can do for his bite temporarily. We fully expected plenty of dental/orthodontic related surgeries in the future based on his wonky jaw alignment–just not this soon.

I have spent a few days in fear around this surgery. But I am going to start to believe that everything will work out well and that this unexpected surgery will actually help Josh out in ways that we didn’t even know were needed.

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4 thoughts on “Unexpected Surgery

  1. Oh, Heidi, I’m so sorry! Sorry that Josh has to go through this surgery and also sorry that you’re feeling so bad. You are an amazing and wonderful mom, who faces every challenge with strength and optimism and nothing but her children’s best interests in mind. I hope things go as smoothly as possible and that Josh will feel a lot better once his teeth are fixed (and that maybe you’ll be able to sleep more if he wakes up less often!). Sending love, hugs, and prayers to you all.

    1. Thank you Julie! I am trying to learn optimism. I wasn’t raised in optimism but in an environment where we all tried to out do each other with comments about how bad our life is–so I am glad you recognize some optimism (even if some times I am just “acting as if”).

  2. Don’t feel bad….trey goes in on the 25th for dental work under general anesthesia too!!!! The dentist told me that 1 out of 4 kids has “weak teeth” and that about the only way to deal with it is sealing the teeth, fluoride (ahgggg….but even jim agreed after two filings, one crown and three pre-cavities) and cutting out sugar. We are only doing sugar on weekends now as going cold turkey just didn’t seem fair to him. Hoping that we will then work on just one day a week and then one weekend a month, etc. He actually isn’t objecting after having two shots in his gums before determining that laughing gas is not going to be enough! Be strong…you are a great mom. There is no way we can foresee all of the things we are going to screw up with our kids…I seem to find one new thing each day per kid!!!!

  3. Oh Heidi, I am so sorry. Jadon has had so much dental work (teeth pulled, bone grafts, etc.) and it’s not fun! After 3 years of braces, they decided he should take a break for a year or so. Then, it’s probably at least another 3 years. But, it is so amazing how resiliant kids are. I’ll be praying for Josh (and for you!).

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