Monday, October 6, 2014

Bravery: The boy who has it, and the mama who needs it.

I've made little to no secret of the fact that Mad Natter hates the dentist. I kind of don't blame him - he goes in, a stranger sticks their hands in his mouth, and he goes home feeling funky... and usually in pain. Who signs up for that on purpose? This week, though, Mad Natter needed to have some dental work done. He had a cavity, and wouldn't let anyone near him to clean it up - he would barely let us brush his teeth, which the dentist insisted we do, as he isn't doing a good enough job himself. But with his anxiety about the dentist, it's never as simple as a drill-and-fill.

We were able to get him an appointment for conscious sedation. I was worried, primarily because I don't know how Mad Natter will do with the medication, but also because this was a last-ditch effort - if it didn't work, we would have to take him to a pediatric oral surgeon, and those aren't covered by insurance.

We turned up for the appointment, medication in hand, and got situated. Mad Natter likes to play with their toolbench, so he hopped right to it, having a grand time while I got him checked in. But, that's when things go pear-shaped. The dentist needed to give him the medication, and he's already leery about taking medicine, so the two together really freaked him out. We wound up having to hold him in a big Daddy Hug while Mama used the syringe to put the meds in. It was immediately followed by a big glass of water, and while he was ticked, he was fine. The dentist ruffled his hair, thanked him for taking the medication, and we set him up to sit and play with a puzzle. A few minutes later, he came back out to check on Mad Natter. He was guessing from how Mad Natter was playing, the meds hadn't kicked in yet - but when he had our boy stand up, he was definitely unsteady, which tells me something about Mad Natter versus the average child trotting through the dentist's office. Anyhow, the meds eventually kicked in, and the dentist took his hand, the hygienist held his other hand and shoulder, and they led him back to the exam room - with Mad Natter listing to the right, looking at the ceiling tiles and singing.  It was like watching my six year old being drunk.

In the end, the damage to his teeth was too much, and he had to have one root canal and his front two top teeth pulled (rather than drill-and-fill, which would be double the cost for teeth that would come out in the next six months anyhow). He sat, calmly, in the dentist's chair, holding the hygienist's hand, and waiting patiently for the dentist to get his work done. It took a little medicating, but he faced his fear of that chair, the whirring, other people having their hands in his mouth... And for that, he's earned a guitar, and lessons on how to play it. I'm still shopping around for a good starter guitar for kids, but he's earned it.

I wish I had some of his bravery. A lot of times I feel very alone. Lonely, even in a crowd. I have a difficult time connecting, and that makes many things difficult. It's easy to go to hockey practices when you have friends among the parents. It's much less so when you feel your differences very keenly. I get done the things I really need to, but when it comes to facing genuine fears?  I could stand to take a lesson from Mad Natter. He faced it down, went through it all calmly, and came out the other side smiling. If I do even one of those things, it's usually a banner experience. I'm so proud of this little boy, he does his best when it counts, and really, that's a lesson that's good for quite a long time.