Sitting in the dentist’s office in early February waiting for my cleaning, I had almost forgotten about the tiny bump just above my upper left eye tooth. I had noticed it a few months before though I can’t remember exactly when. I dismissed it as perhaps a canker sore or some temporary inflammation (even though it wasn’t painful) because it was convenient to do so. But as I began filling out the requisite forms which asked if there had been any changes in my “dental well-being” since my last visit, I was reminded of that tiny bump and thought it might be a good idea to have the dentist take a look at it. Maybe it needed aspirating – or something.
My diagnostic path took me from my dentist’s office that day to an oral surgeon, then a CT scan, then another surgeon, then a prosthodontist, followed by a few more consultations. I am now scheduled for surgery at the end of this month where they will remove what turned out to be a rather large cyst that has been wreaking havoc in my jaw and obliterating my jaw bone for some time.
Initially I went the same place you probably just did:So, uh, you can’t just “pop” it and be done? Maybe a little Novocaine for good measure? Because it is a really inconvenient time for me to be dealing with this right now and…
I shouldn’t have even let those words enter my mind, let alone come out of my mouth, because the Universe has a response to people like me who suggest that they are in charge. But despite knowing better, I initially shrugged it off as a minor inconvenience. And I paid the price.
The answer was no. You can’t pop it. It must be completely removed. And to do that, the doctor must remove a few of my teeth. And then he must rebuild parts of my jaw with bone grafts and a protein solution which will be encased in a titanium tray and inserted deep into my face for 6-9 months after which I will have follow up surgery to remove the tray and insert implants. No chewing for about 6 weeks, and limited chewing after that. Extreme swelling, bruising, pain and nausea expected in the days after surgery. Oh, and I can’t lay my head down for the first week. If everything goes perfectly and the pathology comes back clean (which the doctor is expecting), the process will be over in about a year.(Are you sure you can’t just pop it?)
The narrative of my impending ordeal was not handed to me all at once; it was offered to me in doses over the course of several consultations, each one ending with me becoming an absolute puddle, unable to stop the flow of tears in the car on the way home. I kept this all mostly to myself, Dave, and my parents and siblings, preferring not to tell the boys until I had all of the information.
So, in the middle of all of this, when it was still not entirely clear what my treatment path would be, I was sitting at my desk, feeling very sorry for myself, when Noah came home from school, even more despondent than me. The freshman dance was about 10 days away and he did not have a date. As mothers do, I made a number of suggestions of girls to ask. But of course, my suggestions were already taken, out of town, or somehow unattainable. Here I was, completely unable to help my son or myself. And there we sat, facing each other at the bottom of our own personal pools of sadness. Noah retreated to his room, leaving my alone, heavy hearted with my worries, and now his stacked on top.
It was at that moment that I felt the need to ask the Universe for help. Having been too presumptuous weeks before, I learned my lesson and decided to gingerly approach the Powers That Be and humbly request assistance. I had to be modest; not greedy nor demanding, which meant I had to make a choice. And that choice was easy. Please help Noah.
In this instance, I didn’t trust that my appeal would reach the destiny makers in time so I took to the holiest of channels – the one that clearly is the most direct path to divine intervention:
I went to Twitter.
Out went the tweet. And within an hour, Noah emerged from his room with a smile. He had a date. Hooray. I, however, was going to be a toothless, zombie mother from outer space.
There is a palpable level of perfect insanity that reveals itself in parents from time to time. This was one of them. What type of person would trade off her own health for the period of a year or longer so that her child would be happy for a single night? Can I see a show of hands? Thank you.
Insanity loves company.
Because every parent has a secret prayer that may never be uttered aloud, but is deeply and universally shared. If there is pain to be had in my family, please hand it to me. I will take it all on because there is nothing worse than watching your child suffer. Not even a year without teeth.
Now, do I really truly believe that Noah got his date because of my plea? Or that I am now doomed to permanent hillbilly status because I chose to ask for him rather than for myself? Let’s just say that I’m not messing with the possibility.
My messages to the Universe over the next few weeks and months will be ones of gratitude. Thankful that this health burden is on me, as I know I can handle it. Thankful that my situation is not life threatening, as I know people with cancer who would gladly trade diagnoses with me if given the chance. Thankful for the folks lining up to puree my food, help with work, and make sure I get the rest I will need, as I will be predisposed to cut short my convalescence. And thankful that Noah had a great time at Frosh, as his happiness will always be mine, even if I will only be smiling on the inside for a while.