Jessie’s Oral Surgery and How One of Her Doctors Really Blessed Me

Jessie had oral surgery yesterday to take out a baby tooth.  Her permanent tooth was coming in somewhere that it shouldn’t because it’s path was blocked by this stubborn baby tooth.  We had been watching it a while and the roots showed no sign that it would come out on its own any time soon.  I’m always one to give a little extra time for nature to take its course but this was becoming a real problem.

After the fact, all is well, but I wanted to share some sweet and funny things that lead up to this day.

Her dentist had recommended we see an orthodontist for them to make the call on what to do about the tooth. She felt sure the tooth needed to come out and also confident an oral surgeon should do it (instead of the dentist) as the tooth’s root was still fully there.  She thought we might also need some orthodontic help getting the permanent tooth to move to its proper place (it’s currently coming in sort of in the roof of her mouth).  We will have to see what happens now, our orthodontist said he thought it was possible her tooth might go where it should now that there is room.

I had delayed making an appointment with the orthodontist originally, because oral surgery means anesthesia of some kind, which instantly made me anxious and unsure what route to go.

When Jessie had several (minor, other than her open heart surgery) surgeries at the Children’s Hospital in Birmingham, AL,  each time we got the same pep/prep talk about how anesthesia affects kids with Down syndrome differently.  It has a tendency to make their heart rate slow down.  Sometimes, they would pre-medicate with a medicine that would prevent that from happening.  Anyway, it was something told to us multiple times and is thoroughly cemented in this mama’s brain.

When Jessie was an infant she also had a set of ear tubes put in locally instead of going to the Children’s Hospital in Birmingham.  The procedure is so quick, and they’re under anesthesia such a short time for tubes and our ENT doctor felt good about it so we had gone along with it.

There was a combination of factors that made us decide afterward that if Jessie ever needed to be put to sleep again we would always do it in Birmingham.  We have more specialists coming to our area now, but for the early years of Jessie’s life all the specialists were in Birmingham.  Because they see so many more patients with DS and have so much more experience with them they seem to know more about Down syndrome.

When I saw Dr. McFarland, the orthodontist that had treated my husband and my two adult kids with braces, he was so instrumental in alleviating my fears. He listened patiently to my entire story outlining my concerns. (Ya’ll know I can’t say anything in just a few words.) He not only discussed with me orthodontic options but went way out of his way to give this mama some peace about Jessie having oral surgery locally.

He “just happened to know and be friends with” (I don’t believe that was by accident!) the nurse anesthetist that administers the anesthesia for the oral surgeons we planned to use.  He called and spoke to him personally about my concerns.  His wife also is a nurse anesthetist and he asked her opinion too.  Then, he personally called me to tell me about his conversations with them.  That’s going the extra mile, for sure.

This might seem small to some, but there are situations with Jessie that I fret about more than with my other kids for good reason.  The peace I instantly felt about scheduling the surgery was no small thing to me.  If we hadn’t felt good about it, we certainly would have scheduled an appointment to have it done in Birmingham (4 hours away), but it was so much less disruptive of our life to be able to do this locally.  Not only that, it gave me peace about finding local solutions if she should need something again.  There are more good options here all the time; that wasn’t the case when Jessie was younger.

When we met Dr. Evans (he was recommended to us) and scheduled the surgery, he explained some differences between the drug he would be using (Propofol) and what we think of as general anesthesia.  He explained that although it is general anesthesia, given by IV, it doesn’t tend to have some of the same effects of inhaled general anesthesia.  He reassured me that they had treated patients with Down syndrome of all ages and hadn’t had any complications with their heart rate.

Although this was out of the norm for them, Dr. Evans allowed me to go back with Jessie while they started her IV, because I told him that would help her have less anxiety.  He also prescribed her one Valium tablet to take 30 minutes before our appointment time.  It’s a 30 minute drive there so we gave Jessie the medicine as we pulled out of our driveway.  About 20 minutes later we noticed that when she spoke her words were very slow and spaced out and she stopped playing a game on her phone.  She was drunk as a skunk!

She was a little wobbly walking in so I was really glad I had asked Jay to come with me.  I had pondered going by myself so he wouldn’t have to miss work, but I hadn’t been sure how loopy she would be before and after so he went with us.

Most of the time, it’s hard to get her veins and she knows to expect it to hurt. The Valium was the ticket, she was very relaxed and not at all anxious about the needle stick. She was already a little loopy, and then he injected something under the skin to help numb it, that way when he needed to move the needle around a little to get the right place in the vein it hurt only a little.   Once the IV was in place I  kissed the baby love and went out to the waiting room.

Everything went as smooth as it possibly could.  She was a champ.  We were out there less than 15 minutes when they came to tell us she was in recovery.  She kept the gauze in her mouth without complaint for 30 minutes and then never once complained about her mouth hurting, even when I asked.

When I took the band-aid off where the IV had been, she acted like it was such a relief.  For some reason, although she tolerates them in this kind of situation, she does not like band-aids.  It’s like she’s aware of it every moment that it’s touching her.  She is not the kid that wants a band-aid for every boo-boo.

A little something funny….

Ok, for a little something funny… and I don’t know if it can possibly be funny in printed text the way it was in person.

Prior to our appointment with the oral surgeon, when I was explaining she was going to have oral surgery, she had referred to when they “knock all her teeth out”.  I had explained they were just going to take out ONE tooth and they weren’t going to “knock it out”.  Even after my explanation she kept using the word teeth instead of tooth.

When we saw Dr. Evans to talk about surgery, Jessie listened to the grown ups talk and then Dr. Evans asked her if she had any questions.  As grown up as she could possibly be, she asked him how she was gonna brush her teeth after they “knock her teeth out”.  She remembered the last time she had lost a tooth she had a sore spot that she couldn’t brush.  He explained that she wouldn’t brush the sore spot for a couple of days she could just brush everywhere else and near it.  In this moment was the perfect blend of maturity (her manner of asking the question was so grown up!) and the innocent sweetness of Down syndrome all in one moment.

I’m thankful…

In the days leading up to her surgery Jessie had expressed several times that she was a little nervous.  Thankfully, on the day of, she didn’t have time to feel nervous and everything went perfectly.  I couldn’t be more thankful.

A new season…

I talk about life seasons a lot here. This summer I was in a season of struggling with some things.  In recent weeks this fall I feel God has given me some peace and clarity in some areas that had felt scary and uncertain.  When we’re in a difficult season it’s so important to remember it won’t last forever.

Something I’m loving that’s making a difference in my everyday life…

I’m currently using a Bible reading plan from the She Reads Truth app.  Per usual for me, I started the 2 week plan 5 days late and am playing catch up.  But I share that to say that having a reading plan is the only way I regularly follow through with reading my Bible and it makes so much difference in my heart and life.  If you’re in need of a plan, check it out.  Some are free, but the plans I’ve used most  recently have been $1.99 and worth every penny.  This is not an affiliate link, I share good things with you always with the intention to be helpful.  If it can help cover the costs of operating this blog (there are costs!) I’m happy when that happens, but I have always been the one to call my friends to share a good find, which is just one of the motivations for this blog.  If you already love She Reads Truth, or you check it out on my recommendation, let me know!

I’m loving this sort of fall weather we’re having and hope fall is being a kind season to you too.


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