Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Big Lump of Coal

I think Dante should have included a ring in the Inferno for people, especially health care professionals, who lie to children. Or at the very least, to mix my metaphors, they should get coal in their stockings.

Our dentist should have a fifty pound lump of coal in his stocking—he lied not only to a child but also to this child’s na├»ve parents.

The Dentist Who Shall Not Be Named In This Blog, (DWSNBNITB, DW for short) because I can’t afford to be sued for libel, told Cal and Matthew that Matt needed some minor surgery because the roots of his two lower bottom teeth were exposed. DW went on to explain that it was very minor, that Matt wouldn’t be in any pain, and that he’d be running around right after the surgery. Yeah, right.

Matt was a little nervous beforehand. After all, he doesn’t like people poking around in his mouth. But Matt knew it was no big deal—the dentist told him so.

Yesterday Matt and I went to the consult, which was scheduled immediately before the procedure. This is a clever trick because if the procedure was several days after the consult, you’d never come back after the periodontal surgeon told you what was going to happen.

Matt had three frenectomies, which means they cut three frenum along the lip-gum line. This really doesn’t sound bad. But the entire procedure took about an hour and I lost count of how many stitches Matt had. Then came the list of post-surgical care. It started with “This is a very painful procedure—he’ll need to be on codeine for 3 to 4 days.” Hey, what happened to this isn’t going to be painful?! The nurse continued, “Matt needs to stay in bed for 24 hours. He can’t do any running, fast walking, etc., for 3 to 4 days.” What happened to running around right after the surgery?!

Of course, it only got worse. Apparently, the success of the surgery isn’t guaranteed—and the periodontal dude didn’t even give me odds. Grr. If this doesn’t work, then Matt has to have skin graft surgery with either his own keratinized skin or donor skin. (Imagine Matt coming unglued at the words “donor skin”—he’s thinking flesh off a rotting corpse. I assured him that wouldn’t be the case, but I don’t really know.)

After the “procedure,” I took my darling home and went immediately to the pharmacy because I was ordered, in no uncertain terms, to get codeine into Matt ASAP. I went to go pick up the meds. The pharmacist told me, also in no uncertain terms, that Matt ought not to take the full dosage of codeine.

Me: "Uh, the doctor told me to give him 1 to 1 ½ pills."

Pharmacist: "No."

Me: "Why not?"

Ph: "Because he doesn’t weigh enough for that dosage."

Me: "Oh. So what do I give him?"

Ph: "One half of one pill."

Me (weighing the thought of Matt in a lot of pain from this “painless” surgery): "Can’t I give him one whole?"

Ph (trying to hide a scowl): "I guess. But it will completely knock him out for the whole day."

Me: "That’s okay."

Ph: "But four hours later, only give him half a pill."

Me (meekly): "Okay."

Back home, an hour and thirty minutes after Matt’s had codeine not only is he wide awake, his mouth/gums/teeth hurt. I notice his face is pasty white. I placed a phone call to Perio Dude.

Me: “Matt’s in pain.”

PD: “Give him more codeine.”

Me: “The pharmacist said that I can’t.”

PD: “Oh.”

Me: “You understand that Matt’s a high functioning autistic person, right?”

PD: “Yeah.”

Me: “A percentage of them don’t process medication like other people do. Matt’s one of those people.”

PD: “Oh.”

Me: “So...”

PD: “Why don’t you wait another 20 minutes or so, and then if it’s not any better you can bring him back in and I’ll inject him with more anesthetic.”

Right. That’s going to work. I relayed the suggestion to Matt who intimated that he’d rather die than go back. At the four hour mark, I gave Matt another whole codeine pill. (However, the PD gets only a small lump of coal in his stocking because he did call back at dinnertime to ask how Matt was doing. I told him under the watch of Matt’s glaring eyes that Matt was doing fine.)

The day, actually night, was saved by a neurologist friend who understands Matt’s neurotransmitter issues. She told me he could take ibuprophen on top of the codeine. It didn’t relieve all the pain, but it allowed Matt to sleep. Our friend should get all the Christmas gifts that Santa intended for the Perio-dude and the lying dentist. Maybe I’ll write Santa a letter—there’s always next Christmas.


  1. Ahhh. . . the human body. Something even the experts don't fully understand.

  2. I feel your pain as a mother. Nathan had his wisdom teeth pulled Oct. 30. He was put on Clindamycin, an antibiotic for any infection. Four weeks later he had the stomach flu so I took him to urgent care and raised the possibility that he could have antibiotic induced problems. They reassured me it was too long of a time period to get that. Three days later he still wasn't eating... I took him to our Dr. who said he probably had problems due to the antibiotics, an overgrowth of C-Diff. He was started on antibiotics for that and took them faithfully. Three days after finishing the antibiotics the stomach problems started again. He went back to the Dr. and found he had a relapse, 20 to 25% of people do relapse. So now he is on 21 days of antibiotics and again it took him 5 days to recover. He can relapse again, and he lost about 12 pounds that he did not need to loose.

  3. Agh.. Poor Matt!! I hope he's doing better now...

  4. So sorry for Matt and you:( Glad for our friend with the motrin recommendation!