If you read the Canadian comic strip Better or Worse, then you know that the focus for the past several days has been on teenager April's sullen resistance to her adult's neighbor's willingness to lend a hand while her parents are out of town and her dawning awareness that adult assistance is perhaps of value after all.
Our most recent version features the following characters: college son (CS), age 21, previously blase about when he might come home over spring break, Dad, Mom, and various medical and dental professionals.
Thursday 1:00 am ~ Blissfully sleeping Mom is awakened by telephone. CS, who has been struggling against some kind of dental pain for a week or so, is clammy and sweaty and throwing up repeatedly and wondering if he might have taken too many painkillers (yes) and whether he should go to ER (yes).
1:00 am - 6:00 am ~ Formerly blissfully sleeping Mom talks to son and rommmate every 30-45 minutes as son moves though usual lengthy ER process, gets some fluids and morphine, and is finally sent home with no attention having been paid to underlying problem of dental pain.
7:00 am ~ Mom showers and crawls back into bed in a desperate and unsuccessful last-ditch attempt to grab some sleep.
8:00 am ~ Mom leaves message for roommate's father complimenting his son's willingness to hang out at the ER all night.
9:00 am ~ Mom is in charge of state testing at the high school where she teaches so is in action at work.
10:00 am ~ CS calls to report unmanageable pain.
10:00 am - Noon ~ Mom proctors test and manages collection of materials with cell phone glued to her ear as she tries to navigate university hospital system three hours away. CS goes to dental school clinic, back to ER, and back to dental school clinic. Dad gets in car and starts driving south.
3-5 pm ~ CS has numerous x-rays and exams. Dental resident says she has no idea what the problem is and sends him off with antibiotics and painkillers. Dad and CS start home.
10 pm ~ Everyone collapses.
Friday 7 am ~ Mom is up (those damn state tests await) and so is CS, unable to sleep and with jaw so swollen he can barely speak.
10 am - Family dentist takes about 10 seconds to diagnose what is later described as "an incredibly aggressive infection" and sends CS and Dad off to endodontist (new vocabulary word) who finishes Root Canal Part One by noon. Says he removed a TEASPOONFUL of pus from CS's jaw. How disgusting is that? Not to mention excruciating, which we already knew.
2 pm ~ Mom and Dad trade places. Mom makes trip to empty local pharmacy of heavy-duty antibiotics and painkillers. Mom herself found after surgery a few years ago that, despite universal claims to the contrary, Oxycontin was virtually useless. CS is mercifully having the opposite experience, since. . . .
6:00 pm ~ CS has been asleep on couch for four hours. We won't be completely out of the woods for another month or so, but at least he got taken care of by two terrific docs today.
Parental involvement ~ a terrible thing.