I wonder if by some super-secret X-ray means, my daughter’s oral surgeon knew my history of wisdom teeth extraction. Did someone whisper a heads up to him about the drill breaking in my mouth, the roots rapping themselves around a nerve causing damage that still exists today--the incision in my gum that bled all day, resulting in extra, non-Novocain stitches twelve hours after surgery--the world that spun and weaved and disappeared in a faint that required an extra hour’s observation before I could go home?
He must, somehow, have known all that when he sat across a mahogany desk from my daughter and me five weeks ago, laughing and teasing our girl about boyfriends, while drawing diagrams explaining the ease of the surgery these days. In his winsome, salesman voice, he persuaded us that the procedure would be quicker--not even an hour, the incisions smaller, the swelling less, the chance of infection or complication minimal--all this added to the bonus that our girl only had three of the offending molars to be removed. No kidding, we left the office smiling that day. “Piece of cake” we laughed to each other high-fiving. It is a wonder sometimes, how at my age I can still be so naive.
Here is what that charming, 6’7,” white-coated doctor did not mention. That I would deliver a rosy cheeked, smiling teen to the office first thing, and within an hour feel my stomach plummet as the nurse guided me to a hollow eyed, crooked faced girl who couldn’t talk because of the bloody gauze stuffed into her mouth. He failed to reveal the chance that I would drive that woozy child home hiccupping all the way--advanced notice that the anesthesia had disagreed with her and that she would vomit repeatedly for hours, unable to swallow pain medication for the oozing holes in her jaw. He didn’t talk about the shadows under her grey eyes, the tears that pooled after the last bout facing the toilet, or the hurt that would stab at her like daggers until the afternoon when she finally held the pain pills down.
He did not share that I would sit with her on the floor of our yellow-tiled 1950’s bathroom, reminded of how many times before I have held her hair back as she’s leaned over, or squinted at the gray stripe in the tile while dispensing midnight doses of antibiotics for ear infections, strep throat, bronchitis. That today, like so many of those other times, I would long to snatch the pain from her and swallow it, but instead, could only support her as she leaned her head into me, rubbing her back because that’s all there was to do other than to pray, “Please God, make her feel better.”
It was only a matter of hours, and she’s peacefully sleeping right now. Before she relaxed though, I saw an echo in her eyes of a tiny, jovial infant who’d never before felt pain. A baby who stared at me in wounded disbelief after I’d allowed the doctor to fill a needle and administer her first set of shots.