Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Reading the warning signs

Interesting time at the dentist. Sigh.

Mr Z got a bit over-excited at the playground and smashed his front tooth (his adult tooth) on a concrete dolphin. As you do. Who on earth puts a CONCRETE dolphin in a playground?!

Cue panicked phone call to dentist. An after hours one. Dollars. Sigh.

Cue hurried introduction to dentist I don't know who's probably hungry and tired and just wanting to get home to his dinner.

Cue panicked 8 year old, huge injection and eyes wide open in fear (mine).

Poor Mr Z, trying hard to be brave. I'm trying hard to be brave.

Then I saw it. Something I hadn't seen in years. An odd jiggle in one of his legs.

You see, Mr Z has inherited my panic attacks. When he was small (between 18 months and the age of three) he used to have at least one, most days. He would drop to the ground, rigid with fear and start thrashing around while turning blue. Then he'd pass out, regain his colour, and go on almost as if nothing had happened. Scared the life out of me the first... I dunno... fifty times they happened. Scared a lot of innocent bystanders too!

Initially we weren't sure what they were. Were they fits? Was it asthma?

We had electrodes stuck to his head, visits to paediatricians and other people before we worked out they were panic attacks. Plain and simple. Over minor things like spilling his milk or losing his truck or stubbing his toe. Often they happened at playgroup or the shops or places he felt out of control. They were often about things I couldn't see/find/work out at the time of the attack.

We worked on relaxation techniques and a plan for when he felt 'wobbly'. I learned to watch for the signs - that restless leg, the sudden stillness - and help him to feel safe before the panic had a chance to take hold. Helping him helped me with my panic attacks, too.

So, when I saw that jiggle in his leg, in that huge dental surgery, I had a moment of panic. What if he started thrashing while that injection was going in?

I acted. I don't know whether I made the situation better or worse. I blurted, "Um... he has panic attacks! If he goes blue or starts thrashing, don't panic, he'll be fine". The dentist turned to me, with fear and perhaps anger (I'm not so good at reading people so not really sure), "Why isn't it in his file? What medication does he take? Why wasn't I told?". Of course, then Little Z did start to panic. By the time I'd mumbled something about it not being part of their form, no medication required, just calm voices and explanations about what was going to happen, he was in full twitchy glory.

I eventually calmed us both down but repeating, over and over, "We are BRAVE, Z. We are brave." I was comforting myself as well as my son.

So.... There's now a temporary cap on his tooth. It's wonky but functional. We have to wait to see if the nerve will die and then go for a more permanent solution.

Little Z seems OK about it all. Now he knows what it will feel like (both of us hate that numb feeling) and look like (injections and all) when it all happens, he says he'll be more brave next time. I believe him.

I wonder what that dentist thinks of me. Probably hysterical mother who caused her son to have a panic attack by mentioning it in the first place. But. He didn't know about the twitchy leg. He doesn't know Mr Z's signs.

I do.


  1. No one knows their child better than a mother. Hope the next time is a better experience for you both.

  2. Sounds like you did well. You know him better than anyone and that is the most reassuring thing anyway. Hope he is ok now (and my daughter split her mouth on a concrete frog at one ur fave playgrounds years ago, so much blood!)

  3. We have a fantastic paediatric dentist for my son for all these types of reasons. Calm voices and letting them know what is going to happen is what works best. I hope the nerve doesn't die and an easy solution is found

  4. Shitburger that would have been so freaky Neena! And go you for noticing, it could have been much worse if you hadn't spoken out! And I dread teeth coming out, the poor poppet and you, nothing worse than see your child in emotional and physical pain :( xx

  5. You have a brave boy there. Hopefully the next visit will be less stressful for all concerned.


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