Yesterday was the day Lyndsay was scheduled to have her wisdom teeth extracted. This has been one of those things on my To-Do list for about three years. Every visit to the orthodontist is laden with guilt about the need to have them removed, about their positioning, about the likelihood that if they begin to erupt, they will ruin all the orthodontia work. Believe me, I wanted it done, but at the time we didn't have insurance, and it's a pretty hefty bill out-of-pocket. Well, now we do have insurance, and it turns out, the patient portion of the expense is still a pretty hefty bill, but it gets worse after the patient turns 19, so it became a Have-To, instead of a Someday-Need-To.
I scheduled it soon after Lyndsay got back home from school. I figured, she's coming home to work, and taking time off a newly-acquired job might not make that stellar of an impression, so let's get it done before she gets hired. I called many oral surgery offices, and finally found one that came highly recommended by several people we trust, and happened to have the lowest price. Yee-haw. It was, however, an hour away. Toward Los Angeles, in that horrible traffic but, oh well. We set off together.
I had my wisdom teeth removed when I was 21. Baby Lyndsay was only a few months old, and I remember nursing her in the dental chair prior to the surgery. When it was time, I tucked her back into her little carseat carrier and she sat on the floor contentedly. There was no general anesthesia for me. I remember going home and being in so much pain, lying on the couch trying to nurse Lyns, but feeling like death. Then the fever hit. For a few days I ached all over, which almost matched the pain in my mouth, and I did my best to keep my little baby happy through my suffering. I remember it was awful. It was one of the first times I realized that there is no downtime during motherhood. Not even when Mother is down.
We chatted some on the way down; she wasn't nervous, she said. The doctor was friendly and warm, and had over 40 years experience. We were in good hands. When asked for our questions, Lyndsay wanted to know when and what she could eat. I wanted to know what IV medications he was going to use. And then, back she went, and I was directed back to the waiting room.
Twenty minutes later, the doctor popped his head in. "She's all done," he said. "She's just waking up from the anesthesia. Give her about ten minutes."
About twenty minutes later, Lyndsay came hobbling down the hall, held upright by a nurse, and she was sobbing. Not kind of crying, sobbing. I went to her and held her. "What's going on, sweetheart? Are you in pain?" No, no pain. She had no idea why she was crying, she just couldn't stop. And she felt like, in her words, a "moron" for not being able to.
Ah, the lovely anesthesia. The tricks it plays on the brain. She said (through her gasping sobs) as she was waking up, she was aware that she was crying, and she thought it odd, since she didn't feel sad and she didn't feel pain. (The pain was coming later.) But there she was, a blubbering mess. Poor girl. I escorted her to the car and got her buckled in. We were looking at a long drive home.
She wanted water desperately. She had been off of food and water since 8am and now it was 3pm. I pulled into a 7-11 parking lot and ran inside for a bottle of water. After paying for it, I thought I'd better also grab a plastic bag, so she could spit her bloody gauze into it, and some napkins. She got a little water down, but mostly she dribbled, still numb from the Novocaine. The crying got under slightly better control, down to a whimper.
As we drove, she started with the childlike observations that are characteristic of coming out of general anesthesia. "Look, Mom, Snoopy!" (which was hard to understand with her mouth full of gauze.) "It's Snoopy!" She was pointing to the band-aid on her arm from where the IV had been. Sure enough, there was Snoopy. Then, with her mouth stuffed, she said, "Is the Tooth Fairy going to come?" It sounded so little-girl, that it almost broke my heart. In a sweet voice, I answered her, "I don't think so, honey. We didn't even get to keep the teeth." And she broke into tears again. Sobbing tears. She wanted the Tooth Fairy to come. And then, why did he keep her teeth? That wasn't fair, they were hers! I couldn't help it, though I tried. I started laughing to myself. Only a little got out, but it was funny.
We drove. Actually, we sat behind other cars and trucks, mostly. We inched, more like it. She would cry, and then giggle. Then cry, then giggle. And then? Then the vomiting started. Good thing I'd grabbed that plastic bag! She had nothing in her stomach but a tablespoon of water and some blood, but the poor girl heaved and heaved. I had one hand on the wheel, and with one hand I rubbed her back. Then, when she was finished, I'd roll gauze and hand it to her to repack her mouth, and we'd go on in silence for a few more miles before it would start again. I called Aiden at home with instructions to make her up a bed on the couch.
We got her in and settled, and I ran out to fill her prescription for pain pills and buy her some soft foods. We had several more rounds of throwing up. We'd get a bit of food in her so she could take her pain pills, she'd take the pills, and then up it would all come. Around and around we went, until we were able to get on top of it. Food down. Pills down. Pain down.
"Aren't you glad you don't have to nurse a baby?" I asked her. Oh, yeah she was. Now we've come full-circle, I said to her. You were there when I had my wisdom teeth pulled, and now I've been there with you.
Across town my stepdaughter, Caitlin, was having hers pulled at the same time. We had set the appointments up back-to-back, until I found the cheaper location and switched my appointment. Lyndsay texted her from the couch where she suffered. "This sucks," she wrote. Caitlin's response: "I know. Shoot me." "Shoot me first," Lyndsay replied. At least they're not alone in their agony.
I got up in the middle of the night to check on her. She was to take another pill and some applesauce around 2am. She felt a little warm, but better in the morning. She's so appreciative of my care. I'm so grateful for the chance to do it.
Just when I thought my days of Mommy-ing her were over, we had this. A blessing for me and my heart that is missing the old days when she really needed me. There will be other days too, I'm sure. Days where she needs me, and one of the beauties of our growing relationship is that there are days I need her too, and she blesses me.
But today, I will cherish temp-taking, ice packs, medication dosages, and soft foods. Today is a day of healing.