When presented with a case, the first thing a doctor needs to do is diagnose the true problem from a sometimes poorly-organized collection of symptoms. Elena has recently started to show interest in medicine, specifically the diagnosis of ow-ees. So far her diagnoses tend to be overly aggressive. Jenny says it can feel offensive when Elena points to some inconsequential little blemish on her cheek and asks “mommy ow-ee?” over and over again. She’s done the same thing to me (replacing “mommy” with “daddy”), and I can understand where Jenny’s coming from.

Elena gained her knowledge of ow-ees at least partially from observation of me. She was helping me make dinner one evening–a simple chili that involves browning beef, mixing in cans of tomatoes and beans, adding spices, and simmering. I wanted Elena to help pour a can of beans into the pot. As we were doing so, something went wrong, the can fell, and I sliced my thumb. It was good that Jenny was nearby to take care of both of us, removing Elena from the kitchen and getting me some ointment and a bandage to apply after I ran cold water over the wound for a while. For the next day or two, Elena wanted to wear band-aids when she saw mine, but didn’t insist on it.

We’ve also had several interactions with real medical professionals this week. On Monday Elena’s two-year checkup went smoothly. As befit a big girl, she stood on the scale for weighing and measuring. She’s a shade over 38 pounds in weight and exactly 36 inches tall, still tracking above and along the upper edges of the growth charts. No additional vaccinations were required, and the PA who performed the evaluation warned Jenny against competitive parenting, especially with regards to potty training.

The next day Elena accompanied Jenny and me to the second prenatal appointment for Moonbeam, which was just a short checkup. Elena picked up a yachting magazines to look at while we waited. The high point of the visit was when the doctor let us listen to the baby’s heartbeat for the first time. At about 150 beats per minute, it was right within normal parameters.

My meetings with health care providers were not nearly as fortunate. My teeth had been sensitive recently, but I thought it was nothing out of the ordinary until early this week, when the pain started to grow. On Wednesday morning I tried to eat some carrots and almost started crying from the pain. Jenny arranged a dentist appointment on short notice, at which the dentist assured me that the problem was from me grinding my teeth and recommended a mouthguard. I wasn’t in much pain at the time, so I happily went on my way.

I spent that evening in excruciating pain. My only relief came from pooling cool water over my teeth. I eventually figure out that I could spit it out instead of drinking it all. We made a late night call to the dentist, who told me to take pain medicine and come see him in the morning. Despite the late hour, our home teacher came and gave me a blessing. Late that night, the pain subsided enough that I got several hours of uninterrupted sleep.

The next morning, the dentist still couldn’t pinpoint the problem and referred me to an endodontist. They agreed to see me as soon as I could get there. Presented with the same confusing set of symptoms, the endodontist formulated a hypothesis that finally led to pain relief and pinpointed the problem. He reasoned that whatever the source, the inflammation had spread so much that the pain couldn’t be used to identify the problem and prescribed antibiotics to treat the infection. Mere hours after starting treatment, the worst of the pain was gone and I figured out which tooth was causing the problem. Now we can move forward with treatment to fix things, and while I have to have a root canal re-examined, at least I don’t have to have a new one. It’s too late for my teeth, but I’m doing all I can to help Elena never experience serious dental problems.


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