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The wisdom of teeth (or how to nurse your mother through your oral surgery)

On Friday, I packed the car full of soft food goodies and hurtled my best Florence Nightingale self down I-94 to nurse my poor daughter Katherine back to health after the extraction of her wisdom teeth.

With dramatic visions of bloody gauze and bruised cheeks in my head and a cell phone with spotty GPS in my hand, I made my way south, certain that when I eventually broke through the redundant Chicago traffic and found her tiny apartment I would discover her reclined, puffy cheeked, incoherent with pain.

She met me at the curb.

“Hey!” she said as she jumped in the car. ‘Let me help you find a place to park.”

“Did you miss your appointment?” I wondered.

“No, I got back a little while ago.”

“How did you get there?”

“I took the El.”

“You took the El to your wisdom teeth extraction? How did you get home?”

“The El,” she said, obviously.

I, who had checked into a nice clean hospital for my own wisdom tooth surgery 30 years ago (I believe I even entertained visitors bearing flowers), stared, aghast. Is this really how it’s done? Does one really hop her lone self on a train, ride off to her oral surgery appointment, and jump a train home?

“What about medications? Did they give you any prescriptions?”

“Sure they did,” she said casually. “I walked up to Walgreens and had them filled.”
And then, chatting cheerfully about the gory details of her morning, she helped me lug my grocery bags up to her apartment, checked her laundry and whipped me up a nice asparagus risotto for dinner, pausing occasionally to shift a frozen bag of edamame she held between two slightly swollen cheeks.

“Shouldn’t I be doing that?” I asked lazily, as I rested my feet on the spare kitchen chair and watched her cook.

“Nah, I got this,” she said.

Oh, I tidied a bit and helped her fold laundry, insisted she rest periodically, selected a movie, slept on an air mattress and tried to feel helpful, but she spent most of the weekend comforting me.

Though I had not thought of it this way, the extraction of Katherine’s wisdom teeth became a rite of passage, she jettisoned the unnecessary and rudely placed teeth and held on to her rapidly developing independence and essential wisdom while, like parents the world over, I stood back and watched in awe.

A frozen bag of edamame turned out to be a bigger help than an warm blooded crazy mom-e

A frozen bag of edamame turned out to be a bigger help than a warm blooded crazy Mom-e

The patient whipping me up a delicious asparagus risotto, which she couldn't even eat. I shamelessly gobbled it up. Delicious.

The patient whipped me up a delicious asparagus risotto, which she couldn’t even eat. I shamelessly gobbled it up. Delicious.

And then she gathered up some nice warm sheets and towels for her guest. I know what you're thinking and I would like to point out that after I took this shot I carried the basket upstairs for her.

And then she gathered up some nice warm sheets and towels for her guest. I know what you’re thinking and I would like to point out that after I took this shot I carried the basket upstairs for her.

Is it just me or is there a typo in this street sign around the corner from her house? I thought it was hilarious and earned a "What are you, twelve?" reprimand from Katherine.

Is it just me or is there a typo in this street sign around the corner from her apartment? I thought it was hilarious and earned a “What are you, 12-years old?” reprimand from Katherine.

Saturday morning breakfast with the patient and her cute cousin Erin.

Saturday morning breakfast with the patient and her cute cousin Erin.

And then I picked up this little nick nack for Katherine. This headboard was adorable but much heavier than it looked (and, frankly, it looked pretty heavy.) Our struggle up two narrow flights of stairs reminded us of a Friends episode, "Pivot!"

And then I picked up this little nick nack for Katherine. This headboard was adorable but much heavier than it looked (and, frankly, it looked pretty heavy.) Our struggle up two narrow flights of stairs reminded us of a Friends episode, “Pivot!”

I guess the moral of the story is that our little sweet pea is doing just fine in big, bad Chicago. Go get 'em, Katherine!

I guess the moral of the story is that our little sweet pea is doing just fine in big, bad Chicago. Go get ’em, Katherine!

 

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Posted on June 10, 2013, in Family, Family Stories, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Katherine must be some kind of rock star. I had my wisdom teeth out my first year out of college, and I moved back home for a couple days so my mom could take care of me. I was definitely not coherent enough to ride the EL home, and in fact, puked in the car. Pretty sure I napped the rest of the day while my mom got my prescriptions and woke me up to put ice on my face, which turned a lovely shade of black and blue soon after. Loved the Friends reference, that is one of my favorite episodes!

  2. Reblogged this on Molly B and Me and commented:

    In honor of Molly’s wisdom teeth removal this week, here’s a repost of her sister’s experience…

  3. Enjoyed this article. Last month, I had emergency surgery on a 2nd molar. Since I have retiree dental insurance, I opted for the laughing gas instead of going under and saved $620. I would be awake during the procedure. The assistant tried to reassure me that it was like 3 glasses of wine. Well, I don’t know if I got too much or if being 65 has a stronger effect…. I was so high, I had to sit at the office for an hour rather than the normal 20 minutes.

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