Thursday, Caleb had a dentist appointment. He sat very still and opened his mouth wide while the dentist cleaned and filled two cavities.
That night, he started complaining that his teeth hurt–on the same side as his dental work–and neither of us got much sleep. I thought it might be residual irritation from the procedure, so I gave him acetaminophen and ibuprofen and sent him to school in the morning. He seemed to be fine on Friday, which was unfortunate, because by the time his jaw started aching again, the dentist’s office was closed for the weekend.
The pain steadily grew worse throughout Saturday and Sunday, but I didn’t really worry until this morning, when Caleb’s poor little face started swelling up on one side. After Paul dropped us off at the building, I sent Caleb to class as usual, determined to get him an appointment as soon as possible, but it wasn’t long before he was back in my office, moaning and holding his cheek. Frantic, I called the service line for our dental provider and was told that the earliest I could get an emergency appointment was late this afternoon–hours away–and that it would be a forty minute drive away in Spokane, at a facility we’ve never been to.
Nuh uh. My baby wasn’t going to wait one minute longer to feel better if I could help it.
There was only one problem: I didn’t have the car. Thankfully, that didn’t stand in my way for long. Like a superhero, my boss, Michael, came to the rescue. He loaned me his beloved Tahoe and took over the office phones so that I could get Caleb some help. I packed him into the vehicle and drove to our local dentist’s office, praying all the way there that I could convince them to see us without an appointment.
I have to pause here and tell you that I’m not usually “that” mom. You know, the one who makes a pest of herself pursuing special treatment and favors for her exalted offspring. The one who insists on the coach playing her son all four quarters, or throws a fit until the weary teacher gives her daughter a bit part in the school play. I don’t usually bend the rules. I don’t work the system. I don’t show up at doctors’ offices without an appointment and push my way to the front of the line.
Except today, when that is exactly what I did.
“Please,” I begged the receptionist, after I had explained our pitiful situation, “please…isn’t there ANY way someone can just look at Caleb for a second and find out what’s causing the problem?” I could feel the annoyance coming off of her in waves as she heaved a sigh. And I didn’t care. I would annoy whoever I needed to annoy to get my boy back in the examination room and on his way to feeling better.
“Okay, sit over there,” she said, pointing to the waiting area, “and I’ll see if there’s anything I can do.”
We waited about ten minutes. I started to wonder if she was just trying to outlast us when, finally, she came out and beckoned us up to the front desk.
“I found someone to see you,” she said, “but just so you know, you’ll still have to pay the emergency appointment fee.”
“That’s fine,” I breathed, relieved. She looked surprised, and I realized she probably thought we were trying to avoid our co-pay by sneaking in under the official radar.
In minutes, Caleb was in the dentist’s chair and I was talking to the doctor about the whole horrible weekend. He examined Caleb, checked out his x-rays, and then gave us the bad news. One of the fillings Caleb got last week was very deep, and the root of the tooth had become infected. The filling was causing a pressure buildup; hence the swelling and pain. Caleb needs a “baby” root canal to remove the infection and save the tooth. It’s a pretty involved procedure, and we scheduled it for a week from tomorrow. Meanwhile, the doctor prescribed some antibiotics to address the infection, which should bring down the pain and swelling.
I was so relieved, my eyes teared up as I thanked the dentist for squeezing us in without an appointment. He still looked faintly disapproving as he shook my hand, but I couldn’t bring myself to feel bad about it. I was just happy to be leaving with an appointment and a prescription in my hand. The receptionist even took pity on us and charged us the $15 co-pay for a regular office visit instead of the threatened $50 emergency fee.
As I type this, Caleb is in his room, sleeping comfortably for the first time in three days. The antibiotics started helping almost immediately. We’re hoping the swelling will be all gone by tomorrow.
And me? I’ve come to terms with the realization that I am “that” mother, after all.
The thankful one.