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The Root of the Problem

April 2nd, 2009

I mentioned that Monday Kenny had a cavity filled.   He was awesome – a total cool cucumber.   But the dentist warned that his little molar in question was slightly deformed and that as a result, the cavity had already hit the nerve.   She told us to watch for “extreme pain” or “persistent pain.”  

Everyday this week, Kenny has been complaining about his tooth hurting.   But it didn’t seem to warrant a panic from me until Friday morning he put his sweet hand on my arm and said, “Mama?   My tooth really really hurts.   I think I need to go back to the dentist.”   I explained to him that “going back to the dentist” did not mean our super-cool family dentist, but instead meant a specialty pediatric dentist to explore needing a root canal.   He hesitated, and then said, “Ok.   It’s ok if they have to pinch me again.” (the “pinch” referring to the novacaine shot)   I took that as serious and made the call.

Or calls, as it turned out to be.   The pediatric dentist we were referred to did not take our insurance, so after a whirlwind of automated menu hell, I got several names to call.   In the meantime, it was pouring rain and Cooper woke up shrieking from his morning nap just as I secured a 2PM appointment for Kenny.   I called a repairman who was to arrive at that time to reschedule and we settled in to make cookies to take to a Maryland/Navy lacrosse tailgate we were attending later in the afternoon.   Time: 10:40AM.  

Phone rings: Casey saying that he wanted to go with the original pediatric dentist, and, how ’bout them apples? there’s an 11:30 appointment available.  

Imagine me looking at the mess of cookie-making paraphernalia – flour and egg shells on the counter, oven on and the dough nearly (but not quite) finished.   Cooper and Kenny still in pjs.   Rain coming down in sheets outside.   And a dentist that was 25 minutes away.  

“Everybody MOOOOVE!” I shouted and scrambled to turn off the oven and sweep the half-made cookie dough into the fridge.   I packed Cooper under one arm and steered Kenny with another as we bee-lined for the laundry room to find clothes.   Cooper, who does not like to get dressed under the best of circumstances, protests loudly as I yank a clean shirt over his head and sniff his diaper.   Not too bad.   On to Kenny.   Jeans, shirt, thank goodness for crocs, and he’s ready too.   I look at myself.   Sweats and jeans, no make-up, unbrushed hair.   Oh well.   I find baseball hats for everyone, as the car in the driveway  is 100 feet from our front door and the rain is pounding and I have no idea if we even own an unbrella anymore.   “Run, Kenny – but be careful not to slip!” I say and we race uphill to the car, Cooper laughing hysterically as the rain soaks his face and the oversized cap bounces on his head.   We strap in the car, and turn it on.   11:00.   Not bad!

We arrive two towns over just as the sun breaks through and slip breathless into the waiting room.   The whole car ride I’d been reassuring Kenny that this was just a “check” and that we would make an appointment for the procedure for later.  First stop, xray.   Not so good.   The hygienist gags Kenny, who vomits all over her.   He bursts into embarrassed tears.   I hug him with one arm, as the other keeps Cooper aloft.   We venture into the exam room and the dentist give him the once over.  

Fortunately, baby teeth don’t really get root canals, but rather something called a “pulpectomy” or something like that.   The dentist says that it’s necessary and advises that we proceed.   He starts to order laughing gas for Kenny, but I protest, saying that he went through the cavity filling without a hitch, and the fact that he has a TV screen in the ceiling playing cartoons is more than enough drug for Kenny.   He resists, I insist.   Kenny stays glued to the TV, and I attempt to nurse Cooper while standing next to Kenny, holding his hand.  

Can I take a moment to mention that Moms are Wonderwomen???

Ten minutes later the procedure is done and Kenny is handed several “prizes” for being a good boy – stickers, pencils and a mini airplane.   Kenny’s eyes fill with tears.   “The movie isn’t over!” he sniffs.   I promise a milkshake and he shrugs his shoulders, then starts talking funny on purpose to make Cooper laugh.

What a kid!


We did get home, via McDonald’s drive-thru and I sat an exhausted and sore Kenny in front of a Veggie Tales while Cooper and I snuck lunch in the kitchen and finished the cookies.   Two hours later, Kenny was chasing his friends all over the field, dentist forgotten, as we played at the tailgate.   I plopped Cooper into the pack-n-play we brought with a friend’s baby and downed a glass of wine (or two).   Mission accomplished.

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