A long day at the hospital (dental work)

Yesterday we left for the hospital at 7:08am and arrived back into our garage, after an unexpectedly long day, around 6:11pm.

As it turns out, chemotherapy melts tooth enamel, how unfortunate. If you couple that with children’s already thin enamel, you are primed and ready for cavities galore. We knew Beau had a handful of teeth he needed treatment on. What we didn’t realize was that because of the foot dragging we did to get the dental work addressed, it had expanded to be two large handfuls of teeth that needed significant intervention. We did try to get things addressed months ago. However Beau couldn’t relax in to the smoke and mirrors of the pediatric dentist situation. He called them out with panic the moment the dentist said, “Oh this? This is just a little scrubbie brush.” Beau retorted, “It’s a drill! You are trying to tell me a drill is a brush!”

From there, the relationship couldn’t be recovered. It was similar when the nurse yesterday asked if he needed to go “pee pee on the potty.” He rolled his eyes so big I thought they’d go through the ceiling. I watched him with an amused grin wondering how he’d answer.

You see, I’ve grown a lot. Two years ago I would have stopped those eye rolls in their tracks, explained he needed to be respectful and told him to answer the question. But now, I let him express his disdain that the nurse is asking him, at 9 years old, if he needs to “pee pee”. I allowed the silence to pass as his eyes rolled and he let out an annoyed sigh. Beaudin replied, “I don’t need to go ‘pee pee”, making big annoyed air quotes as he said it. The nurse, unfazed, looked over to me and explained that with the propofol sedation some kids empty their bladder on the table. I wasn’t sure why she was telling me, and not him. Children’s nurses can be funny. People unfamiliar with Beau will speak to him in cryptic baby talk, but all straightforward conversation they direct to me.

“You should explain that to him,” I suggested. She kind of laughed, thinking I was kidding, which I wasn’t.

“Hey Beau, if you don’t empty your bladder before the propofol, it’s likely you bladder will empty on the operating table and then this lovely nurse will have to change your pants while you are asleep.So, would you like to go use the pissa’?” I gave him a wry smile.

“Fine…” he grumbled, and went off to the bathroom.

The resource nurses missed his port access, twice. Regardless of their confirmation to me that they knew how to access a port, they did not know what they were doing. It was clear, to them, after the second miss. It was clear, to me, immediately the first time that they attempted access. Right away he flinched, and began to wince. Thinking perhaps they had “hit the wall (of the port)” they continued on trying to draw-back from it which didn’t work, so they thought they would flush it a little. You know, just flush some saline straight into his subclavian muscle. Beau’s wince became a shriek and as they “adjusted” the needle he started to really cry. Around the time they decided to admit defeat I found my words and told them to “Please, take it out, you’ve missed it, clearly.” which was a bit more direct than I’d hoped, but facts don’t require their approval.

Figuring perhaps it was user error, we thought we’d let the second nurse give it a go. I didn’t feel great about it, but I was sure that the first nurse hadn’t a clue what she was doing. For goodness sake, she used one hand and didn’t secure the port with the other. I knew better than that. Well, same thing happened. Though this time Beaudin was quick to identify that it wasn’t in. “Get it out!” he yelled. “Oh honey, it’s ok. Sometimes it just hurts a bit,” the nurse coddled as she drew-back and couldn’t get blood flow. “Take it out,” I said firmly.” “Well….. it may be in….” she stalled, moving the needle, “Calm down sweetie, sometimes it hurts.” Beau’s discomfort was growing, tears streaming down his face. “It’s not in, port access does not hurt him, ever. You’ve missed.” I said.

They moved the needle around for what felt like 18 minutes, but was likely 10 seconds then resigned, “Ok, looks like it was just outside. We will try one more time.”

“Nope.” I spat out. “Get someone from 7.” (7 is the oncology floor, where port access is routine.)

You see, I’ve grown a lot. After oh so much people pleasing practice, now I know that it is better to make the resource nurses feel uncomfortable, than to let Beaudin be a pin cushion while someone tries to figure out how to access a port.

They called down a nurse from floor 7 and I prayed it would be someone we recognized. When she walked in the door hot tears filled my eyes. We knew her, sweet Jenny.

“Hey Beau! I am so glad to see you,” she greeted as she began to lay out the sterile supplies for the third time. He didn’t look-up from his device.

“Beau, look up, sweetie. Look who it is.” I encouraged him to pull his eyes away from his iPad, knowing that heads down in his iPad was how he escapes this place.

He glanced up, “Do you recognize her?” I asked. As soon as the “no…” came out of his mouth he began to smile and I knew that we were in safe hands.

He was accessed flawlessly, first try. Sweet Jenny.

Sweet Jenny.

Beaudin had three teeth extracted, 5 cavities filled, one crown, one spacer and 4 sealants put on. As I type that out, I feel the embarrassment of my youth rise-up in me. I had terrible dental health as a youth and was always so embarrassed of the metal in my mouth. Beau doesn’t seem to mind, for now. He is actually eager that he gets a metal tooth like his dear friend Grady. It also helped that when we got home and he showed Jude, the first thing Jude said was, “Awww, Beau gets jewel teeth, no fair!”

The whole procedure took a little over 2 hours. He then recovered from propofol which took just over three hours. The kid would just not wake-up from sedation. Trying to wake-up someone and keep them awake after sedation may rank on my top ten least enjoyable activities. It’s kind of funny as his flops around like a wet fish, but every couple moments he will cry out and moan about how bad his head hurts as he throws his body back on the pillow, tears roll over his swollen cheeks, and protests, “It’s not my fault I can’t keep my eyes open!”

Once we got home and settled in for the evening he remarked, “Mom, can you believe that that nurse at the end gave me 2 blue raspberry slushies and 3 popsicles?”

“I can not, in fact, believe that, but I am so glad bubba.”

“Me too, they we soo delicious.”

You see, I’ve grown a lot. Two years in, I now know that Blue-5 filled, liquid sugar slushies are completely acceptable during a 10 hour hospital day.

I went to bed last night at 7:15pm and slept for 11 hours.

3 thoughts on “A long day at the hospital (dental work)”

  1. Betsy, you have all gone through so much and I cannot even begin to understand your level of tolerance-FAITH. Your strength is amazing!!!!
    Love you guys!


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