So, um, remember how Monkey got his braces on and a wire kept popping off? I’d already taken him back to the orthodontist to have them fixed the very DAY they were put on, then the next day they were closed and I had to fix them myself, and then for a couple of days they were okay.
That, of course, was followed by the Carnival Of The Wire Popping. The wire would pop off at least once a day. Sometimes twice! And because I actually have a few other things to do in this world besides remembering to call the orthodontist or spend the kids’ entire college fund on gasoline to keep trucking over there, somehow a week went by before I actually called them.
During that week, I had to drive to school to perform emergency wire surgery twice. Because I’m a orthodontist. Oh, wait. NO I’M NOT. And I’ll admit it—I was slightly cowed by the ortho’s assertion, at the first “fixing” appointment, that they were installed properly and Monkey just needed to stop messing with them.
Because it’s true, Monkey DOES mess with them. He can’t help it. At any given time you can see his tongue darting around in there, feeling the wire, moving it back and forth. And while we’ve all done our best to gently help him break that habit (I prefer bellowing, “MONKEY! STOP TONGUING YOURSELF!”), the reality is that if you had a MOVING WIRE in your mouth, you’d poke at it a bit, too. This isn’t because he’s only eight, it’s because he’s human. And because if you must have a wire in your mouth IT SHOULDN’T MOVE.
Well, yesterday was the proverbial last straw—Monkey called me from school in tears. Not only had the wire popped out, but one of the springs had gone flying when it had (according to him, anyway… I’m not sure I buy the Mouth Missile version of this story, but whatever), so now the wire was poking out of his mouth AND there was a piece missing.
The timing was stupendous, too, because the day before I’d made a repair trip to school and came home and called the orthodontist, finally. The recording said they were “in a meeting” and would “get right back to me” if I left a message. So I left a message. And they NEVER CALLED BACK. So yesterday when Monkey was crying because he thought he’d done something wrong, I realized that it had been over 24 hours and no one had called me even though my message had CLEARLY stated “Something is very wrong with my son’s braces and they keep breaking. I NEED HELP.”
So. I called again. And got an emergency appointment. And the receptionist got a piece of my mind. She seemed utterly unfazed, which makes me think that I am not the only frustrated parent who calls and asks exactly when the THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS we’re forking over result in some actual PATIENT CARE.
Then I hung up and called the school to let them know I’d be picking up the kids. Once I got off the phone I realized I had exactly twenty minutes to get showered, dressed, and over to the school to die in the carpool lane. Er, to patiently wait for my beloved children come get in the car. (If they were riding the bus home, as they normally do, I would’ve had an extra 45 minutes.) I raced to get ready—probably heading out with only one armpit shaved, knowing me—and on my way out the door realized that by the time I got them, went to the ortho, and came back, it would be time to head to swim practice. I turned around, ran back in and grabbed up swim bags and towels and suits and after-practice snacks, and left.
At the orthodontist’s office, the tech (do they have special names, those not-orthodontist helpers? I know they’re hygienists at the dentist…) again tried to convince me that this was “perfectly normal.”
Do you know what’s perfectly normal? Rain. Love. Wind. Laughter. Grass. The grocery store insisting on putting the raisins in the school supplies aisle where I can never find them, even. Those things are normal. Paying upwards of five grand for your kid’s lips to be repeatedly sliced up by a wire that won’t stay in those fancy high tech brackets? NOT NORMAL.
I may have shared my opinion on her assessment of normal. I may have even suggested that if we could not resolve this problem, my child who is not yet in braces might well be going to a different orthodontist… say, one who doesn’t find this aggravation normal.
“Oh, well,” she said, “we’ll get him fixed up this time! No worries!” Damn skippy, lady.
She made him a completely new wire/spring apparatus, and this time he has a couple of extra little metal pieces on either side of one of the brackets. “See, I’m crimping these onto the wire,” she showed me, “and they should stop the wire from moving. Plus, see this blue dot in the middle of the wire? Now you can just look at him and know if the wire’s still centered.”
When he was all done, he hopped up, took a look in the mirror, and turned to the tech. “Nice job,” he said, ever-generous. I tried not to laugh.
We drove back across town and made it to swimming just in time. As I sat there alternating between watching practice and reading a book, I realized that the ortho debacle meant we’d have nothing to eat for dinner—in my haste to get out of the house in time and with all the swimming gear, I’d forgotten to load the night’s menu into the crockpot. Whoops.
Otto saved the day by picking up Chinese food. (I knew there was a reason I married him.)
This morning, I peered into Monkey’s mouth and was relieved to see the blue dot right where it belonged. “How is that new wire feeling, buddy? Does it feel like before?”
“No, it doesn’t feel like the old wire,” he answered. I felt panic rising. Did the new metal pieces make it HURT? Were we going to be facing another hunger strike like when he’d first gotten his expanders? Was something WRONG? “This wire doesn’t move around!” he concluded, cheerfully, before turning to the business of eating his breakfast. Oh. Well, then.
On the other hand, it’s still early. That call from school could still be coming….