My Teen Worrier Became a Warrior

Dara LevanBlog2 Comments

I parked crookedly in a tiny spot. We walked and chatted animatedly. Then Zoe opened the door, signed in, and took silly Snapchat photos to distract herself.

After an hour of waiting, we were both becoming impatient. I was impressed with Zoe’s calm demeanor. We just learned about her first cavities (that is intentionally plural) last week. I was shocked to hear she had SIX in her young 14-year-old mouth.

Zoe asked the woman with blonde, braided hair if she could go into the office. She told me she needed the restroom. She came back to the waiting room grinning like the Cheshire Cat.

I could swear I spotted white, crunchy objects on her tongue. I said, “Are you SERIOUS??? You are eating candy just before having your first cavity filled???”

She giggled and shook her head. Then she extended her palm and offered me a mint, too. I took it and watched befuddled as she proceeded to suck and chew on the round, decay-producing pellets.

We finally got called back. The soothing, grey walls and welcoming staff eased my agitation regarding the delayed time. I am always willing to wait for an excellent doctor. However, this was a bit frustrating because of my own mommy anticipatory anxiety.

The assistant put a topical gel in Zoe’s cheek. She had to keep her mouth closed for a full five minutes, which to her must’ve felt like five years! Yet she somehow managed to talk through the sides of her mouth.
Dr. B approached the chair and said hello to Zoe. He had a gentle, kind presence. 

This was her reply: “Don’t hurt me. What if I feel that? How long will it take? And are you going to wear gloves?” Zoe inquired as she pointed to the ominous syringe.

  “You won’t feel anything—it’s like a mosquito bite,” Dr. B said.
Zoe’s entire body visibly tensed. She resolutely turned her head toward me and tightly pursed her lips.  I wondered for a millisecond if she’d bolt!

Then her green eyes moved from fear to “aha I have an idea.” Zoe looked at the needle and then back at me. “Can we get ice cream after?”
I would normally say “absolutely not because you ate it last night.” However, I was desperate to get this over with, so I reluctantly agreed to the purchase the contraband.  Zoe already asked if the anesthetic would wear off, and at this rate, it certainly would. She said, “Ok! Let’s do this!”

She winced and seemed to be in pain as Dr. B inserted the needle. My tooth began to ache; maybe this was sympathy pain? “What if this wears off! Is he coming back? My lip is numb. My chin is numb,” Zoe said in one exhale.
“It is good that you are feeling numb, honey. That is a really good thing. Trust me!” I replied.

And she, just like me, has the ability to speak clearly even with a drill in her mouth. Zoe, similar to me, needs to know what’s going on and seems to feel more at ease if she understands what will happen next.
“You have a small mouth,” the doctor commented casually. I think he was talking to himself. But I overheard him.

I laughed and glanced at Zoe. “YOU have a small mouth? Really???”
Dr. B walked away to switch tools as he chuckled, “Your mom doesn’t think so!”

He paused to show me the decay.  Somehow my half-numbed daughter asked articulately, “Are you done! Which teeth did you do?”
I said, “Oh honey not yet!” Dr. B showed me the cause of the decay; apparently the protective sealants on her teeth had cracked.

Thankfully, during Zoe’s dental cleaning, the doctor detected the decay. My perpetually curious daughter asked me to take photos of her teeth.
“You’re going to feel a little vibration, but no pain. Ok?” Zoe nodded. She seemed more peaceful. Until the dentist approached her face with a narrow object.

“No nononono. NO needle!!! No!” Zoe protested emphatically. 
“Honey that’s not a needle; it’s a cleaning solution. I need to get all of the decay out of your teeth,” I heard Dr. B say to my daughter. “One of these is very deep—hang on. And you need to move your tongue over; I don’t want it getting stuck in there (referring to the long, white suction device).”

I offered to assist. Dr. B smiled and shook his head. I marveled at his ability to multi-task and manage multiple tools simultaneously. I would’ve broken every single one of my patient’s teeth.

He held up a tangerine-colored mirror to show Zoe the deep cavity. I said, “My love, maybe you want to start brushing your teeth once in awhile?” She grunted and nodded. Wooohooo. Only four more fillings to go!

I saw her strong, sturdy finger give me a “thumbs up.” My amazing daughter already had all four wisdom teeth pulled before the age of 12. She was such a trooper.

The drilling finally stopped. “Bite down. Open. All the way. How does that feel?” Dr. B asked. 

“It. Hurts!” Zoe replied.

Dr. B said, “You’re biting your tongue. Try that again.”
  “Ok. Oh there we go. It kind of feels weird. Ok. It’s good now,” Zoe reported. 

I am beyond proud of my feisty fighter! She teased me last week, calling me a “big baby” when it comes to dental work. She is absolutely right—hate having someone in my mouth. I’d quite frankly rather give birth without an epidural!

Zoe has been an inspiration to me since the day she could speak. She told me that she thought she was going to vomit because she was so nervous. But she found her center and calmed her mind. My teen worrier became once again a warrior.

Copyright © 2018 Dara Levan | Every Soul Has A Story ™. All rights reserved.

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