Recently our son Ryan had to get his first filling. He was feeling anxious, understandably – let my medical records show I was not. On the morning of the appointment we checked in, and then two lovely girls came out to get him in the waiting room. One walked him back while the other one sat down to chat with me.
Overly beautiful pediatric dental assistant: How is mom doing?
Feeling very frumpy soccer mom-ish now: Fine.
Super empathetically: We know this can be very anxiety producing for parents.
Feeling slightly condescended to: Thank you, but I’m okay.
Following job protocol: Are you sure? You don’t have any questions for me?
Ready to read People magazine: Nope.
She won’t stop: Do you want me to walk through the procedure with you?
Annoyed: No, I’m good. Our oldest son had cancer, so this isn’t a big deal to us.
Shocked but trying to act normal with a higher pitched voice: OH wow. Is he doing great now?
Feeling like a total shmuck: No, not really. But I am okay and really not concerned about Ryan having a cavity filled. Thank you so much.
She walked away perkily while I internally chastized myself for pulling out the cancer trump card. Then I wondered..should I be concerned? Do kids die while having cavities filled? Why was she being so intentional? I seem to remember that girl on CNN who had dental surgery and never woke up. But this isn’t surgery I thought – it is a cavity. Sigh… I grabbed a stack of magazines to aimlessly browse while I waited.
A little while later from somewhere over in the corner I heard a voice and sound that I immediately recognized. “Ka-chow”, the toy Lightning McQueen car exclaimed, as a little boy who looked to be about three pushed it around the lobby. Instantaneously I was swept back into various Children’s waiting rooms – waiting on Ben to come out of surgery #1, waiting on Ben to come out of surgery #2, waiting for Ben to come out radiation, out of every procedure and scan. I could feel a grief attack coming on as my heart started to beat faster and my eyes began to sting. But thankfully it was interrupted as the first nurse came out and said Ryan did great. He was busy picking out his toy and would be out in a minute.
In a minute. That was how fast our life changed. One minute we didn’t know Ben had cancer and the next we did. One minute he was here and the next he was gone. One minute I am okay and the next I am not. And a few minutes later Ryan emerged – totally okay.