I am a fan of worrying.
Correction: I am NOT a fan of worrying, but I can’t seem to help myself when an occasion calls for any degree of concern. And while, as a very young girl, I learned the lesson of “less is more” when it comes to jewelry, makeup, and perfume, I’ve felt absolutely no need to be cavalier about anything. If there’s a drip in the kitchen, I call it a flood and wonder if the whole house is going to collapse because of it. If we have 3/4 of a gallon of milk left and it’s Wednesday, I worry about not having milk should a snowstorm hit on Friday. I am the Queen of Mountain-Out-Of-Molehill Land…and don’t you forget it.
When I worry I’m like a duck in water…not only do I feel like I’m in my element, but I also manage to give the outward appearance that it’s an effortless task. There I am, gliding along while, below the surface, I’m paddling incessantly to keep myself afloat. This is when the sense of humor kicks in (like an angry mule) and goes into overdrive. I try to find humor in everything. Some days it works, others…not so much.
At 1:30 this morning, as I watched the ceiling fan turn, I heard J roaming the top floor of our home. He visited every bedroom and bathroom, trying to not disturb any of the occupants. The cats barely stirred, Dada snored to his heart’s content, and TGG slumbered peacefully. I didn’t really move until J returned to his bedroom and left the light on; I reminded him that he should be sleeping and, giving me a look that said “doesn’t the same apply to you, lady?,” J made himself as comfortable as the thought of a dentist would allow. I heard him shuffling around in his room until it was time to get up and succumb to the inevitable. That he didn’t take his med before going gave us pause (we’ve been down this road before, thank you…)
We left the house at 8:30. We arrived at the dentist’s office at 8:45. J asked, of course, to go to the bathroom at 8:45:30. They called him in at 9:00. Dada went with him. Dada’s the Utility Man for Stressful Circumstances; I am handy at recovery. I am the coddler, the spoiler, the pillow fluffer, the blanket tucker, the mashed potato maker… I paced the waiting room (praying, of course, that it would go smoothly,) and then I looked up and a nurse was calling me. Twenty-five minutes had elapsed. J was getting ready to wake up, she said, and I could come back to see him. As he opened his eyes, I looked down at him and he had a bit of blood in his mouth, but he seemed peaceful and relaxed. They sedated him long enough to get the offending molar extracted, and now it was time to wait for him to be able to stand up.
Because it is a teaching-practice, the surgeon had a team backing him up, and they all kindly welcomed me, congratulated us on “the best patient of the day” and gave us instructions for J’s care until the sedation totally wore off. They asked if we needed pain killers, and we explained that we’d rather weather this with run-of-the-mill acetaminophen. They said to call if J experienced any pain that was much too much for him to handle. We were home, factoring in traffic, before ten a.m. At 10:45 J asked for food, and he ate the very creamy mashed potatoes that I made for him. By noon Dada was back at work. It is now half-past one, and J is happily sitting on the couch listening to music and giggling. I gave him acetaminophen two hours ago because he told me he had A LITTLE PAIN with his Proloquo2Go. At the dentist’s office he told us he was feeling RELAXED with the Proloquo. He repeatedly said GOOD MORNING and THANK YOU to every person in the room while smiling his sweet, goofy, I’m-still-sedated smile.
Unless he bleeds, he doesn’t have to miss school tomorrow. Judging by how well he’s handling the whole thing, and how he has asked for food and has accepted drinking from a bottle and not from his straw-equipped insulated cup, he won’t have any problems.
What have I learned from this situation? Not to not worry, that’s for sure. I will worry until I’m blue in the face because it’s what I do. I don’t ever want to not think something could go wrong because I don’t want to be complacent about the gift of J doing well when faced with this type of thing. But I have learned that, yes, we are right to believe that J understands what we tell him, and that he knows we can be trusted. I have learned that if you prepare him for something like a tooth extraction, he WILL be anxious like any other person would be, but if you remind him that there is a purpose to this invasion and pain, he will accept that you have the best intentions.
All we got out of him at the dentist’s office prior to the procedure was a mild WAH WAAAAH that meant to announce he was justifiably concerned, but that he was not going to struggle.
Did I cry when the nurse told me it was done and had gone well? Yes, but almost imperceptibly. Did my little duck feet stop paddling? Yes…I let the current carry me; I coasted on the feeling of relief and gratitude. I would have kissed every practitioner in that room if it hadn’t been because, well, it would have been totally inappropriate, but I did call a while ago and left a message telling them that they’d done such a good job that J is back to his usual self, and that we are tremendously grateful because it is a gift to know that your autistic kid will now have a happy picture of the dentist’s office in his eidetic memory.
This duck is climbing out of the pond…for a while.