Thursday, July 8, 2010

laugh or cry

There are times when parenting three children with known medical and emotional needs becomes a farce of itself. Like when we thought The Blonde had heat exhaustion and we searched the Internets for any deadly link between heat exhaustion and albinism, then wondered if we should take her to the local urgent care or the one at the pediatric hospital (with the genetics group), before being given a diagnosis of stomach flu that may have actually been food poisoning.

Only The Big Brother came to us with teeth like steel. Nothing much damages them. The little ones, on the other hand, have what I refer to as "fragile" teeth in my better moments and "teeth that are all fu(#ed up" in others. The Boy's cleave off like walls of ice from a glacier. The Blonde's are craggy and pockmarked, like the Khumbu Ice Field. This morning was their trip to the dentist. The mantra in the office is "we do our best." Luckily, today was another "well, it's not good, but it's not so bad that we'll pull or cap today" kind of visit.

It's when I saw the x-rays that I began to laugh so hard I cried. Or, maybe it was the other way around. Either way, it was the "serious laugh" that Margie wanted to have after reading "seen and not seen."

The Boy's cleft is incomplete, bilateral. This means that the gapping started at the teeth line and upper lip, on two sides, but didn't extend into the nose. He has two extra teeth, one on each upper corner, where the cleft split the teeth buds. It has to hurt, these extra teeth and the way they're doing a Charleston about his mouth, but he claims it doesn't. We've never quite known if the cleft extends into the alveolar ridge (that's the "upper jaw," the bone that holds your teeth). Today's x-rays indicate that there is a slight cleft on the right.

But that's not the scary funny part.

What got me to giggling was the x-ray image of his permanent teeth, all ready to come in and replace the "fragile" baby teeth. They're there, and there may or not be more than necessary. What is clear is that they're all coming in at a 90-degree angle. So, instead of seeing teeth like [ddHHbb] over his baby teeth, I saw [IIIIII]. Every one, from the molars forward, is together in a bizarre tug-of-war game.

The Blonde's x-rays showed one permanent tooth, just as pocked and craggy as the ones she has already. "I'll absolutely want to seal those," said the dentist. "No doubt," agreed I.

Big Brother is missing permanent teeth.
The Blonde sports mountainous permanent teeth.
The Boy will require orthodontia beyond my wildest imagination.

As we were looking at the x-rays, one blow-up after the next, I was beyond "we'll do our best" and into "ah, yes, well, that should be fun. So, there it is. Right. Well. OK" before I just started to giggle and tear uncontrollably. The dentist was doing her best to remain professional, but joined me in a quick chuckle over the insanity of it all, the utter chaos that are my children's mouths. "You're a good mom" she kept trying to say, "this is the way you'll have to go into all this." "It's not as if I'm going to have all that metal in my mouth," I managed to say. But, only to misdirect the attention from the tissue I held.

Sometimes, when we're frustrated with a messy room or a painfully elongated nighttime brushing routine, Mr. D and I will remind each other of how absolutely phenomenal our kids truly are. They are bright and creative and engaging. Love is first on their list. People want to be friends with them, want to be near them.

And, that's why I was laugh-crying at the dentist. It's surreal, the amount of orthodontia we're looking forward to over the next ten years, beyond anything I had ever imagined. But, these kids! Oh, how we're blessed.


Yoli said...

I just want to hug you and agree with you that you are beyond blessed my friend.

Margie said...

Oh, hon, I know exactly the kind of chuckle you mean, it's that serious laugh I mentioned.

Some day it will all be behind you - and the kids - and the smiles will make it all worthwhile. Not that the smiles aren't perfect today, but you know what I mean.

Raina said...

I have an idea. We'll all get through it together. I'm here when you ever need. And we can share bad teeth stories :)