Wolfie Fangs

Yesterday Rollo had his appointment with a Maxillo-facial surgeon.

Yup – I had to look up that word too – but all it means is “medical treatment relating to the mouth, jaw, face and neck,” which you might have gathered from the “facial” bit.

Last time we visited Rollo’s neurosurgeon, he checked out his ankles—important because he tootles around on his toes a lot of the time, which can cause weakness, amongst other things. My daughter tells me she’s had kids in her class who have wonky tendons, too, from all the strain.

Anyhoo, he also checked to see that both of Rollo’s goolies had dropped (thankfully, they had; otherwise, this can cause cancer at a later stage in his life), and then tried to peer into his very open, loudly howling little mouth.

He’s not called Rollo for nothing and can emit the most realistic wolf-like sounds if he so desires.

Unable to see properly but wildly concerned at the very a-typical shape of Rollo’s palate (his words, not mine), he called up a fellow specialist. He asked if he would be prepared to take a squiz at our wee lad.

The dude kindly agreed, and our neurosurgeon wrote a letter of referral.

Chris had taken the morning off to come with us, so after the session, we hightailed it off to Die Wilgers hospital to make an appointment in person. Or, to be perfectly honest, four of us traipsed into his suite. Okay, I scurried with my head down like a timid mouse because, horror of horrors, the place was right opposite the surgeon who chopped (erm, beautifully removed) the melanoma from my arm. I’ve not laid eyes on him since he read my book, and although he thought it was funny, I don’t suppose his receptionist would.

But I digress.

We handed over the letter and explained the situation. The first appointment we could get was on the 12th of October. I did some more gasping in horror while Chris calmly agreed that was perfectly fine. Somehow, my addled brain thought we were still in May, and October was a million miles away. Chris quietly reminded me it was only three weeks to wait.

It’s not as though Rollo’s palate was new to us.

He was born looking like his teeth would break through in all their glory when he was a few days old. So, you can imagine our surprise when it actually took fourteen months for his first fang to materialize. He was on the cusp of being officially tooth-delayed, and I’m sure he was ghat vol of eating smooshie food and was dying for the lamb chop his oupa had promised him.

It was smack bang in the middle of COVID. Em, and I (both with a case of dentist phobia heebie-jeebies) were shuddering at the thought of having to take him to somebody when, amidst much poop and ceremony, one little toothy miraculously appeared.

The rest followed, but they did take their own sweet time.

We’d gotten so used to our cute little toothless smile that it took a while to get accustomed to his equally gorgeous fangy one.

So, yes, we’d seen his high-arched palate, but as he didn’t have any problems eating, we didn’t worry about it too much.

All that flew out of the window when the neurosurgeon mentioned words like cleft and holes in his palate.

Then we started to stress big time.

Anyway, we were racked and stacked in plenty of time for our appointment yesterday. We’d been told to get there early—there were forms to fill out. Unfortunately, it was smack dab in the middle of Rollo’s nap time, so we had a very groggy little soul strapped into the car seat. It was also boiling—35 degrees, and he has a propensity for projectile hooching in the car.

We got there without incident, had to push the speaker button on the ticket machine to get in because waving was not working, found parking and hustled our way into the surgeon’s suite.

It was cool, empty and quiet. We soon changed that.

Rollo sat in his pushchair for a few minutes and then started wiggling. Em hauled out her cell phone and pulled up his favourite Duggie episode. He grabbed the phone and watched happily.

While we were filling in the forms – another family arrived. We were gratified to see that the mom instantly took out her phone and handed it over to her, quite-a-bit-older-than-Rollo son.

Forms filled, the clock ticked, past the designated time. It’s quite interesting with all these professionals that their time is precious, but yours isn’t. Then a nice nurse popped her head out and asked if it was okay if the other family took their little boy in first because they would be very quick…and we would take a long time.

We didn’t really have a choice in the matter, so we nodded and smiled. Of course, let the autistic toddler wait longer. Why ever not? Em, and I looked at each other and rolled our eyes a bit, grateful that Rollo was such an amenable kid.

They thanked us and tootled off into the inner sanctum.

Rollo had been sitting, well, maybe sitting is a bit wrong. By this stage, he’d been bouncing around all over the place, watching Hey Duggee for close to half an hour. Not too shabby for a not-quite-three-year-old kiddo. He’d only tried to visit the great man himself once, and we’d redirected him back to the couch. I was very proud of his fabulous behaviour. But, of course, if there had been no Duggee, things would have been a tad different.

Eventually, the nurse popped out again and apologized. She’d thought it would take much quicker. I smiled and said that was fine, but we were next. In the meantime, another lady with her very-much-older-than-Rollo son had arrived. They both took out their phones and started scrolling.

The nurse invited me to whip out my credit card and settle the bill so we could make a hasty escape when we were finally done. She’d get the statement all ready in the meantime.

Forty-five minutes later, the specialist ushered us into his office.

Rollo led the way on tippy toes.

The doctor sat down, whipped his mask off so we could see who we were talking to, and put it back on very smartly.

Then he waved his hand at Rollo and said he didn’t realize he had a problem with walking, too.

I responded that he was autistic and often walked on his toes. He really doesn’t have a problem with his legs.

He then asked if there was any family history.

We’d seen that question on the form, but it didn’t make sense. History of what? Besides, there was approximately one and a half centimeters of dotted line space to write in, so we’d ignored it.

Em piped up that she and Rollo’s father had ADHD. Then the cheeky blighter waved a hand at me and said she was pretty sure I had it too.

But it appeared as though he was asking if there was any history of cleft palates in our family bush.

Erm…not that we were aware of.

He instructed Em to sit on the long, plush red chair and hold Rollo on her lap so that he could examine him.

Our nicely behaved-little cherub instantly turned into a howling wolf, and it was all Em could do to keep his chest anchored down while I grabbed his legs.

Have I ever mentioned before how strong Rollo is?

Thankfully, it didn’t take long.

He generously gifted Rollo the little tool with the mirror that he’d just used to look in his mouth (they come in disposable plastic now).

Rollo punctuated his intense displeasure by hurling it to the ground with a yowl.

“Just put it in your bag, Mom,” Em hissed when I tried to give it back to him. A picture of the little boy before him who’d come out smiling as he twirled his mirror tool, most impressed with it, flashed through my head.

We relocated to the chairs by his desk, and Emma scrambled around to find Duggee again. I’d pulled up Bluey, and he wasn’t having any of that. But it didn’t take long for his sobs to abate into sniffles and hicks, and he settled down to watch quietly while the surgeon scribbled and scratched on his form.

After a few nerve-shattering minutes, he put his pen down and said, “There is no sign of a cleft either in the soft or the hard palate.”

He used many other long words, but my brain was dancing a jig of joy, and I didn’t really hear them. Although I nodded wisely and made uh huh noises.

I asked if the shape of his palate would affect his big-boy teeth. I’d read quite a few posts about how this can be a huge problem.

The dude shook his head and said that Rollo’s teeth were nicely aligned and there should be no problem.

Then we were dismissed.

Em and Rollo skived out of the suite asap, and I waited at the desk to get my receipt and statement. Clearly, they had not expected us to be so quick because it wasn’t ready. The other family was still waiting—possibly hoping to sneak another parcel of time between somebody else’s appointment. But the waiting room was teeming with other people, so I’m not sure if that was going to happen.

After another five minutes of waiting, I got the paperwork and finally managed to escape.

An old gent was struggling at the pay station. A young hospital employee stopped to assist him. Clearly, the credit card process was causing problems. I stepped in behind him just as a slew of people from the other side joined the queue.

We waited.

And we waited.

Obviously, today was all about waiting.

The employee was very patient, despite the old dude being cranky and borderline rude. I kept telling myself he was in the hospital. Maybe he was sick and in pain. Plus, a few months ago, there wasn’t paid parking to fiddle with.

About ten seconds before he’d finished his transaction, a man charged up from the back of the queue and started berating the hospital employee. Telling him his machine was rubbish and this was a terrible system, and he was in a very big hurry, blah blah whinge whinge.

My blood boiled.

Then my evil twin, who seems to pop up in this section of the hospital, opened her mouth and told him that the hospital employee had been kindly helping the old gent, and he was not in charge of the machine. It was definitely not his fault.

The rude man turned, stuck his face into my space and said, “What?”

I calmly repeated myself without kicking his shins.

Just then, the old dude shuffled off. The man looked at me and said, “I suppose you want to go first,”

“No kidding,” I replied, sticking my ticket into the machine. After all, I was there before him, and I had a cranky toddler waiting in the sunshine.

I paid with cash, grabbed my change and left, fuming that some people are so downright rude and mean when they don’t have a clue what the situation is.

I just hoped he needed to use his credit card and nobody was there to help him.

Karma is a bitch, you know.

2 responses to “Wolfie Fangs”

  1. Thank you for sharing the realities of your life with us, and for sharing Rollo’s challenges and the positive ways in which you as a family deal with this special little person. You are so talented in your use of words; I can’t stop reading. With ASD in my very own family what you write becomes even more meaningful.

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