Sunday, April 8, 2007

Dentist on Tuesday

How did this happen? Mia's dentist said “three cavities” today and I’m reeling.

I say nothing, not wanting to alarm Mia, but memories flood into my head: memories of pinches and the industrial looking metal syringe that stays and stays in your mouth while you squirm like a hooked worm and the smell of the drill and the gagging from the water.

I take off my glasses, I look out the window. We are high above the rail tracks. I can see three church spires in the distance and a vaguely castle-like yellow brick building. “Do you have any questions or concerns?” Dr. Dentist asks.

Mia cried and thrashed this morning while getting dressed. “I don’t want to go to the dentist!” I told her I would be with her the whole time. I told her she would get to choose a little toy for being brave. “I’m not brave!” she wailed. But she relented, let me carry her the last block to his building. She pressed the elevator button and happily hopped into the waiting room, drawn in by the fish tank and the bright colors and toys. She lay patiently in the chair, opened her mouth on cue, even wore the heavy lead X-ray apron without complaint. So my heart is already open, moved and grateful when I get the one-two punch of the X-ray results.

Dr. Dentist says something about nitrous oxide. He doesn’t really recommend it but ... I can barely understand what he’s saying, guilt and worry and fear of her fear are so jumbled together in my head and my gut.

Fear of her fear. I’m more afraid of her fear than of her physical pain. Both the girls fall and cry nearly every day. They have rough and tumble bruises on their shins, scratched knees, random owies that we decorate gaily with fancy Band-Aids. I love the hollow sound of Band-Aid boxes bouncing into our shopping cart when I toss them in by the handful. Nora’s noggin is the unfortunate height to be a ripe target for doorknobs, table corners, protruding countertops. A backrub in Mommy’s lap, a bag of ice wrapped in a dishtowel, a piece of candy, a rush of sympathetic murmurs, all do wonders to spook the pain away. But fear? That leaves a deeper wound, not so easily hushed away.

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