March 7, 2012
We went to see out favorite dentist - Dr. Kelly. We've gotten to know her quite well over the last 3 years as we've ventured in every 3 months for cleanings. She's a mom and her kids are very close to the same ages as mine. She has many kids in her practice that have special needs, and she is sensitive to meeting them where they need it. And she has the most kid-friendly office I've ever been to. From the entry with a huge colorful mural that covers 3 of the 4 walls in the waiting room, down to each treatment bench that is equipped with a flat-screen monitor showing latest releases of kid movies. Get that! The kids get to watch movies while having their teeth cleaned!
When I was a kid all I got to watch was the dentist's nose hairs move back and forth as he breathed. Lucky little buggars!
Naomi was first up on the bench since her teeth would take the most work today. Her poor teeth are in the poorest shape I have ever seen. They are brown-to-dark-gray along the gums of almost every tooth. She has strong bad breath. Every time I have brushed her teeth up to this point, her gums bleed horribly.
As Dr Kelly looked her over and began scraping and cleaning, her poor little gums just bled like crazy. And Naomi was such a quiet little trooper. She obviously isn't a fan of having her teeth scraped, but neither am I. Dr. K also said that this is the first time in her years of practice that she has ever seen full-blown periodontal disease of the baby teeth. This is where the infection and decay has gone down into the jaw bone. She is losing the bone material in the jaw that holds her teeth in place and keeps them from moving or falling out. The good news is that once we can get to the point of clearing up the decay and infection, when her adult teeth come in, she will be able to regrow the bone for her adult teeth, thus reversing the damage she has now.
So we will be trekking back to see Dr. K every two weeks until we can get Naomi's teeth and gums back to healthy status. We have Doctor's orders to brush her teeth 2-3 times a day and using an oral rinse twice a day until she's all better. It's a darn good thing she doesn't mind me brushing her teeth! Hannah sure doesn't.
Hannah was up next for her exam. She tends to be much more orally defensive and does not like hands around her face. She gets stressed very easily. I was sure this would be a tricky and very loud examination. I knew the exam table would be a challenge. But Dr. K is great and knows just how to work with kids and parents. We did something she calls a "lap exam". I sat in a chair and held Hannah in my lap. Dr. K sat in another chair directly across from me, our knees almost touching. I laid Hannah back so she was laying across our legs and her head was in Dr K's lap. They moved the light over to us and we worked right there. I was able to hold Hannah's hands down while Dr K cleaned. Of course Hannah cried and screamed the whole time. I'm sure she must have scared every poor kid who was in the waiting room. But it worked out well. The more she cried, Dr K was able to get a clear view and examine and brush/clean her teeth really, really well! But Dr. K was super-fast and was done with her in less than 10 minutes.
AND NO CAVITIES! I couldn't believe it! There is evidence that she grinds her teeth, but otherwise her teeth look great and her gums are healthy! She doesn't have to go back for another 6 months!
We got our ballons and stickers and headed out.
As is our usual custom after the dentist visit, we go to CiCi's Pizza buffet for lunch. I had promised the kids we would go, but as we rounded the corner I had immediate regret. There were two school buses unloading out front. I didn't see the kids go in, but I could just envision that it was the high school football team and they would eat all the pizza and it would be really loud. I expressed to the kids that I wasn't sure about this choice, but my son begged to go anyway.
About that time, I saw that they were unloading two students in wheelchairs from the second bus. I realized it probably wasn't the football team and felt better about going ahead with the plan. And I'm really glad I did!
We walked in and I suddenly realized that every kid in there had some special need. These were kids from the local high school and this was a special outing for lunch. There were 3 kids in wheelchairs, 3 young men with Down syndrome, and a whole host of others. Probably 30 kids in all. I have to say it was the most beautiful thing I've seen. And here we were with our two newest girls who have Down syndrome. We fit right in!
And I have to add.... this was Georgetown High School that publicly celebrated TWO kids with Down syndrome recently. Their student body voted two students with DS as Homecoming King and Homecoming Queen in 2010! You can read more about them HERE. Be sure to watch the video.
I have to say that I had to choke back tears as I sat there having lunch with my kids. Here I was sitting in a room full of kids who are included and cared for. They have the opportunities to go to school. They have access to good medical and dental care. Their parents are no longer told to send them away to institutions anymore. I sat there remembering the orphanage and the hope that Hannah and Naomi did NOT have in their country. They both had already been scheduled to be moved to a mental institution. While they are still scrawny, small and underweight right now, I sat there happy and overcome with the hope that they now have in their lives and their futures.
Even as I sit here recounting, I still well up with tears.