2 months back we brought our 4 years old boy to Hospital Sg Buloh to have his teeth check. Normal dentist clinics (we tried few) doesn't work as Benjamin refused and took long time to open his mouth to show the dentists. One of the dentist referred us to the hospital as they are children-friendly, specializes in childrens' dentistry and have experiences in dealing with kids like ours.
So in early April this year we went to the hospital, also took a while to get him to open his mouth, roughly dentist told us need to fill 5 of his teeth due to cavities and arranged for a dental op to fill his teeth in mid July (earliest they could slot him in) and that the whole procedures need to be done under GA due to Ben's behaviour of not letting people see and touch him for check-ups.
Pictures taken below were taken during our 1st visit to the hospital. Noticed right hand side pic, I had to lie down on the dentist chair with Benjamin on top of me before he is willing to show his teeth under the dentist bright light for them to see his teeth.
Although there are concerned people telling us that kids below 6-7 yrs old do not need to do all this dentistry repair since it is their milk teeth and these teeth are going to drop out anyway, we decided to do it because if we don't and the damage gets worse and goes deep into the root, it will affect the future adult teeth structure.
Early this week I got a call from the hospital that somebody cancelled their appointment on Thursday 13th June (which was yesterday) and the nurse asked me whether I wanted to move our 15th July dental op to 13th June. We immediately say yes and with about 3 days left to prepare our 4 years old for his coming op, we were very excited and anxious at the same time.
Pre-Dental Operation Challenges:
1. FASTING: Benjamin need to fast from midnight the day before his operation, and by fasting means no water and no food. I don't have concern with him fasting food for a few hours, but water? Oh boy... my boy loves to drink water, so I had to keep reminding him that during the 'big' day, we have to hold off the water drinking first because doctors want his stomach to be empty for smooth operation procedures.
2. REGISTER BY 7AM: We were told to be at the hospital by 7am and to register for the admittance and dental operation. The hospital is about 40 minutes from our place and that means waking up before 6am (for hubby and myself) to prepare everything and leave house latest by 6.30am.
On the Day - Dental Operation Challenges:
We reached the hospital at 7am and were the first to register for admittance. Although the signboard says the official hours is 7.30am onwards, the hospital staff is kind enough to register us at 7.15am (probably the sight of 2 anxious parents with 2 active chirpy kids touched his heart to start work earlier a bit hahahaa)
1. CHECK-IN PROCEDURES:
We had some minor issues trying to get Benjamin to stand on the weighing scales and had his blood pressure checked. Our boy is really apprehensive with all these new procedures and very wary with strangers touching him so I had to get the nurse to look away or distance themselves while I get our boy to stand on the weighing scales and I also had to strap the blood pressuring belt onto Ben's arm for his pressure to be checked.
Next hurdle was to get him to take off his pyjamas and wear the hospital gown. Arghh.... took some cajoling and scolding (from hubby) to finally be able to get Benjamin to take off his pyjama top. Even after checking-in to our room (it's an 8 bedded-room), we still have to wait for the doctor to do his round and assess the patients for the day.
2. OPERATION QUEUE BASED ON PATIENT'S AGE:
If on the operation day there are 4 patients scheduled for operations, it will be done based on the patient's age. The youngest patient gets to go first. That will mean longer waiting period (and no food and water) for us if there are younger patients than Benjamin on the operation day.
There is a boy who is younger than Benjamin by a few months and Ben was supposed to be 3rd patient but luckily for us, the little girl who is supposed to be patient number 2 took her food 2 hours before reaching hospital and doctor had to cancel her operation since she took her food so, we got queue number 2.
3. THE WAIT...
Each dental operation is estimated to last around 1 hour during which, we cannot do much but wait. No food, no water, just wait. We spent some time at the children's playroom where Benjamin and Alyson played with the ride-on cars and toys inside. The first patient took about 1.5 hour and by the time it is Ben's turn, it was 10am already. Only 1 parent is allowed to accompany patient into the operating theatre (OT) and guess who's the lucky person? ME! My tummy was already rumbling at this point but had to brave on for my boy. I sat with him on his bed as 2 nurses wheeled us to the OT ward.
Once there, they have to leave Ben in the OT entrance (secured and guarded by the nurses still) while I had to run out to the side door to change into the OT special hospital gowns. I had to take the staff entrance, leave my shoes there, changed to the hospital gown, wear another slippers only for OT used and go back to meet Benjamin who is already crying and sobbing by then because he thought mummy left him alone there. Sigh...
4. THE FINAL MOMENT - IN OPERATING THEATRE ROOM...
In the OT room, I had to sit on a chair with Ben sitting on top of me. Took us a few minutes trying to get him to inhale from the gas mask but he refused to put his mouth or nose anywhere near it, so we ended up with me holding his arms and 3 doctors restraining my 4 years old boy from wriggling away and finally got him sleeping soundly under the General Anesthesia (GA).
One of the doctor carried Ben and put him on the OT bed, took off his pyjama pants and passed it to me and the anesthetist asked me whether I want to say anything else with a now sleeping Ben (made me teary when I think of leaving him alone there in the OT room). I just whispered to Ben that God is sending His angels to protect him now and mummy will be around when all is done.
I also reminded the dentist specialist to try rescue Ben's teeth as much as possible as she mentioned to me that there might be possibilities of extraction if the damage is bad since they could not assess Ben's teeth during the April checkup and could only check in details this time. I pleaded gently with her to rescue as much as she can and prayed that no extraction needed.
I was then ushered to another room outside (still within the OT ward) to wait and standby throughout the dental operation process. Looked at the clock, it was 10.30am and I still have not taken my breakfast then and I have no mobile phone or anything with me at all.
Luckily, the father of patient number 1 (the little boy before Ben) was also in the waiting room (they had to be around in the OT ward still to wait for their boy to settle down before being permitted to return to their hospital room) and I asked to borrow his mobile phone so I could inform my hubby my whereabouts.
Hubby came over half an hour later with a bottle of soymilk and a vanilla cream bun for me and left immediately after as he left Alyson in the hands of a security guard in order to reach me in the OT ward. Gobbled the food up and continued my wait and regretting not asking hubby to bring my mobile phone. Argh...I also had a short chat with the father of the little boy and was told that his son had 12 of his teeth extracted. That was very alarming to me and made me more worried but turns out it was because his son's teeth is badly damaged until the gums are swollen and bleeding and he had difficulties in eating his food and was told by doctors earlier that the extraction is required. I prayed that Ben does not have to go through this method of treatment!
About 11.30am, I really need to go pee and thinking I better be ready waiting in case Ben's op is done, so rushed out to find the toilet in the OT ward. Was instructed to go back to the staff changing room (where I changed into the OT hospital gown earlier) and after that I lost my way and found myself LOCKED OUT OF THE OT WARD. I obviously do not have OT ward access card to go back in and stood outside the staff room knocking every few seconds, hoping for someone to hear my knocking and let me in.
Finally a hospital staff came into the staff room and after explaining why I was stuck in there still wearing the OT clothing, he told me to give him a few minutes to get someone to open up the door from the other side for me. All the while I prayed that Ben can wait for me. Really do not want him to wake up without mummy by his side.
After few minutes, a female OT staff opened the door from the other side and ushered me in, telling me there are few incidents where patient's family members lost their way so she told me not to fret it because I was telling her I am very lousy with directions. Got back into my waiting room because Ben's operation is still on-going. I waited and waited... 2 hours now...
5. AFTER THE OPERATION - RECOVERING...
And I needed to pee again. Darn preggy symptoms and all. Hold the pee because a nurse popped in to the room and told me Ben's op is done. The nurse brought me to Ben's bed and I saw him sobbing with his eyes still closed. He was still under the GA effects and was crying. Poor boy. Took me about half an hour to wait him to be out of the GA spell and he finally opened his eyes after I told him about the 'special CCTVs' (it was smoke alarms actually) in the OT ward that monitors and watches children. Told him a security guard is watching children over the CCTVs and they will not allow children to leave the OT ward if they are still crying. That got him to open his eyes to scout for the CCTVs and he took a few more minutes to stop sobbing and became fully conscious of his surrounding.
Ben refused to separate from me and this time I had to carry him with me to the staff changing room so I could changed out of my OT clothings and wear back my own stuff. Imagine 6 months preggy with 2 hours sleep and lack of food lugging a half groggy half cranky 16kg 4 years old boy around.
We left the OT ward and 2 nurses wheeled us back on Ben's hospital bed back to our room. I got out the Lego toy I bought for Ben the day before (as his reward for fixing his teeth) and it calmed him down a wee bit, he hugged it and watched my iPad and we waited on for the doctor to come and check his progress. Hubby bought some food for my lunch but I could only have appetite for a slice of waffle (yummmss) that's all.
Within half hour, Ben vomitted on his hospital gown and my hands (I was cupping the vomit) and after changing into a new hospital gown and washing myself, he napped on his hospital bed.
A doctor came over to check Ben's progress, explained to me that the vomitting is normal as our child had never fasted in his life before so this is a common sight for people who fasted the first time and proceeded to tell us the treatments done for Ben. He had a few fillings done on his teeth (front mostly) and a crowning (something metallic) at the inside of his teeth. No extraction required at all and to continue practise proper dental hygiene, not to eat hard food as it might caused the front fillings to fall out (it was put in place for aesthetic reasons only)
We were given another follow-up appointment in August to check on his progress. Doctor said we can get ready to discharge and she also prescribed a bottle of paracetamol in case Ben experienced any pain with his teeth (we took the meds but didn't give him any since he did not have any pain at all) Hubby went off to settle the bills and we then get ready to change Ben out of his hospital gown and head home.
Ben woke up as we were leaving the hospital and although he was still particularly quiet (and tired), his appetite is good, he whacked 3 slices of cheese sandwich and a packet of soymilk on the way home. He was back to his usual self by evening and no reports of pain or discomfort or whatsoever. He was very happy to see the black spots on his teeth gone and smiled at us whenever we asked him to show us his teeth. I don't think he noticed the metallic crowning in the insides of his teeth yet, that will be another story to explain to him later.
Throughout the whole day, we were really thankful to God for:
- sending the right people to our paths, to help us with our directions, lending mobile phone to me so I could contact my hubby, me getting myeslf locked out of the OT ward,
- for the smooth day we have, that we do not have to wait long for our turn, that our 1.5 years old Alyson sleeping most of the time hence less trouble for hubby to care for her while waiting for Benjamin and myself to be out of the OT ward
- the time taken by the doctors and specialists to treat Ben's teeth and not resorting to any extractions at all
We were really grateful for everything to be done on time and in orderly manners. We were just grateful and happy to have this operation done with. And most of all, Ben does not require any extractions at all!