Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Wisdom Teeth: Anxiety and Extraction

Wisdom teeth extraction is a very interesting phenomenon that happens to most young adults. When I was growing up it was a several day affair in the hospital. Today they take themselves to the oral surgeon. Sit themselves in a dentist’s chair and 40 minutes later out the teeth come. It is a relatively minor occurrence in today’s world. What a difference thirty years makes. But then again since everything else has progressed why shouldn’t this type of surgery have progressed as well? I know I learned that reality when collegeman had had his appendix out. I remember that in my youth those that had had appendix surgery were left with a huge scar across their lower abdomen, but today it is done laparscopically. The patient is only left with a one inch scar around the belly button. So much better for girls who like to wear bikinis or any European man who is partial to Speedos.

Well today collegeman had his wisdom teeth out. If anyone has kept abreast of the recent machinations of my child, they would know that we had had to reschedule the surgery because I had not been specific enough in my directions about preparations for the surgery. You see I had told collegeman that he was not to eat anything which he didn’t and that he was only to have a sip of water with his pills, but neglected to tell him that he couldn’t drink anything else. So on the original day of surgery, he had drunk a can of diet coke (OK it was caffeine free so he thought it was a good choice). You would think that this child drinks soda like crazy if he had drunk it at 8:30 in the morning, but not only doesn’t he drink soda in the morning, but he only has one can of soda a day and that is usually in the afternoon. So what possessed him that morning I have no idea, but luckily he told us and we were able to reschedule the surgery. No need to put his life in jeopardy for convenience sake.

So this time, we told him specifically no food, and only the sip of water with his pills. (Collegeman takes a cocktail of medications for his anxiety, attention and seizures. We checked three times with the surgeon before the surgery, that he should ingest all of his medications and that they weren't contraindicated with the anesthesia. I know we specifically told him several times nothing else to drink, no soda of any kind including, once would have probably been sufficient, but the children aren't the only ones who are obsessive in this house.) seltzer. Apparently if there is a problem the bubbles hide the ability of the surgeon to see what is going on in the stomach. In fact, we watched him like a hawk just to make sure he didn’t forget the directions. People may not understand this reality, but you can tell these children something and by the time they get into the next room they would have forgotten your instructions. And no I don’t live in a 9 million dollar Hollywood, eco-green mansion. My home is quite modest and the rooms are right next to each other.

Well collegeman, who has been partaking in the typical adolescent stay up until four in the morning and sleep until noon ritual, actually awoke up early today. He was up at 6 and complaining that he was hungry. I suppose when you are told that you can’t eat that is the first thing you think of. Normally the hunger pains are not there and nothing wakes him up. The boy will sleep through a tornado and has. But I had to remind him of the no food and drink rule. He took it in stride and hung out until it was time to go. Luckily we had the first appointment and had to be there by 8.

The only thing that actually happened which was truly disconcerting is the fact that collegeman broke out in a rash all over his body. He kept complaining that his skin was itchy and I really didn’t think much of it, because he likes to hang out in the bathtub and water dries the skin, so I just handed him some anti-itch skin lotion. We all got dressed and off we went. Of course for some reason there was a terrible traffic jam in our town, heavens knows why, we live in a relatively tiny hamlet but there was stop dead traffic on the road this morning. So hubby had to make a quick beeline and turn the car around and take the backroads up to the surgeons’ office.

Of course we were late and I had forgotten the phone number. I tried to dial 411 to get the number and without a doubt we were in a dead zone and no signal was going through. The irony here is that I had just switched phone carriers because of the dead zone in my home. I had been without a landline and a cell phone for two days and it was a really creepy feeling. So I had decided to switch to the carrier I presently have because I can get their signal in my home, but apparently I can’t get their signal in another part of town. I swear there is always something.

Then once I got through to 411 they had no idea what the number was. But I realized having a PDA I could go on the Internet and found the surgeon’s website. Without fail the website did not have the phone number listed, you had to search the site pages for the number. By now we were ten minutes late. I finally found the number and was able to call them. They didn’t mind and told us not to worry and that they were there waiting and it was fine. Through this entire slapstick comedy, collegeman was scratching his arms. Still didn’t really think much of it. Like I said dry skin from hanging out in the bathtub.

We made it to the oral surgeon’s office and they let us in right away. Collegeman sat n the chair and I went over to rub his head like he likes. It was then that I saw what was going on with his skin. The boy had broken out in hives all over his body, from the back of his neck down through his legs. He had them everywhere. It wasn’t even like little pock marks, they were huge pimples all over and they were red and very mean looking. The poor kid was so uncomfortable.

We knew he was nervous, but this is really the first time it had manifested itself in this way. He usually picks at himself, or gets grumpy and yells at everyone. I suppose he finally is learning to internalize the anxiety, whoopee. What an alternative for this child. Either have anxiety attacks or break out in painful hives. God, life sucks sometimes.

Anyway when the doctor came in, collegeman started asking questions and he basically didn’t stop. He started to explain how the last time he had surgery was when he had the appendix attack and then proceeded to tell the surgeon about what it was like to wake up from the anesthesia. He remembered everything even what the nurse wore and said to him. Sometimes it is such an amazing thing what these children do and do not remember. If you ever forget how different autistics view the world all you have to do is listen to what they emphasize from an incident. The things that stick in their mind as opposed to what a neurotypical may remember is so very interesting. These particular remembrances show you how the autistic brain works and how it functions.( No this was not on my mind at the moment as we waited for collegeman’s surgery, it is a review of the situation as I write this blog).

So anyway, as they prepped collegeman for the surgery they asked hubby and me to leave the room. Of course, hubby had me leave first. He wanted a moment with his son. Why it was deemed more important to him to be the last parent out of the room than me, I will never know, but hey I give hubby what he wants at times when it comes to the boys. So they put the laughing gas mask on collegeman and I left the room. Hubby followed just a few minutes later. Have to tell you I don’t care if they are having major surgery or just their cavities filled, but when your child is under general anesthesia you are on pins and needles. None of it is fun.

I remember when collegeman had his first foray into the world of anesthesia. He was 18 months old and needed some cavities filled in his molars. Yes he had cavities from apple juice. Who the heck knew that apple juice would do that to the teeth? This was before we were made aware of the amount of sugar in these juice drinks and were told by the pediatricians to give juice drinks to our children along with water. (I am talking almost 20 years ago) So they decided to fill the cavities because they were in his molars and he would need these until his tween years when they would be replaced by permanent molars. Interestingly most baby teeth cavities, I was told, should not be filled as they fall out anyway and they have no roots so no root canal worries (your dentist may think differently, so please check with them and don’t take my word for what is the appropriate care for your child’ teeth).

So after a very long long long 30 minutes, the doctor came out to the waiting room and let us know that everything went well. Collegeman’s teeth came out with no problems even though they laid near a nerve and that he would be in recovery for awhile and we should just sit tight. What a relief that was. I realized how shallow my breath had been for that entire 30 minutes and I let out a really huge exhale.

Finally after another 30 minutes we got to see him. He had gauze coming out of his mouth and was still hooked up to the IV, but other than that he looked like his own 19 year-old unshaven self. We waited until he could actually sit and stand basically on his own and was able to take him home.

The doctor had noticed the hives on collegeman as well, and agreed that it was probably due to nerves. He realized how nervous collegeman had been and was quite good and patient with all the questions that were constantly being asked. In fact collegeman came out of the anesthesia raring to go with more questions. The surgeon gave collegeman a shot with some steroids in it to help the rash and to keep the swelling down from the surgery. We filled a prescription for penicillin and a pain killer which should help with collegeman’s anxiety never mind the pain.

Right now collegeman is resting in our bed, watching TiVo and I even helped him eat some macaroni and cheese. This is like junk food heaven. For 48 hours he can only eat mac and cheese and ice cream. What a boy’s dream. Of course, collegeman being collegeman when we told him that that was what he was going to be eating he was happy but apprehensive. Now he is worried about his heart. We had to explain to him that the doctor told him that it would be OK. (The worries never do end).

But I think he is comfortable. He is propped up on pillows. Surrounded by TV remotes, handheld computer games, his laptop, water, gauze, ice packs (oh yeah don’t forget the all important ice on the face to keep the swelling down too), paper and pencil for information and question relaying because it does hurt to talk, his cell phone and landline phone. He is on major painkillers and seems relatively content. I just wish he would fall asleep and rest a bit. It would do him good. But I just heard him creep down to the PC and caught him printing out some Yugiyoh deck information. Nothing keeps this boy down. I had to chase him upstairs and physically put him in the bed. It’s good that he is so strong, but he needs to know when to rest too. He can just be so stubborn at the wrong times that it can drive you “batshit cray.” (If you had read my deleted post (taken down at the request of a sister-in-law) you would know that I promised to use this term in the next article I wrote. Again hat tip to Countering Age of Autism for the new fun term)

By the way, the hives are going down. It seems he is calmer and adjusting nicely.

Until next time,


P.S. How do you like the new layout? Wanted something a little more funner...Green also happens to be HSB's favorite color.