Saturday, April 12, 2008

Passports, Grass and Teeth

Time spent in queues, time spent on the phone listening to automated messages telling me I'm now fourth in the queue and thanking me for my patience, other phones ringing endlessly with no answer, this is all part of the passport application process, a necessary trial to see if you are patient enough to be allowed out of the country and represent your nation abroad…

Since last week I have established:

  1. That I am unlikely to ever have a hope of speaking personally to the Examiner responsible for our application , to see if he would accept the numerous documents that I did send him, without the vault copy of Youngest's birth certificate.
  2. That the vault copy from South African Home Affairs may or may not come through in time to get her British passport.
  3. That as long as our South African passports come through in time, she can travel on that to the UK, without a Visa and without being suspected of nefarious activities and endangering her entitlement to British citizenship.
  4. That stressing about it won't make the slightest bit of difference to bureaucratic procedure, so I may as well stop worrying about it and get on with my work.

Youngest is now languishing on the sofa, taking full advantage of the unlimited video watching that is the sole privilege of the sick in our house. She made it thought the first three days of term in kindergarten (only having to be carried in protesting for the first two days) and then woke up with a temperature on the Friday. Apparently flu is once more doing the rounds, a sure sign that autumn is truly here.

The rest of the family are at the school again this Saturday, building paths, weeding out alien grasses and putting up shade cloth shelters over the kindergarten sand pit. My husband is showing his Leo colours and is on a mission to get parents involved in transforming the school grounds.

We laid 500msq of grass turf last week around the kindergarten, which was previously a desert of dirty dark sand. Magically turning it all green was hard work but very rewarding and we now have proper paths everywhere too, which makes it a whole lot easier delivering a protesting child to the kindergarten door!

Youngest, having just about yielded on the going to school without me, is now fighting a rear guard action:

"Why are you MAKING me go to school EVERY day?"

The other big issue has been that Middle Daughter needs some fillings, not straightforward ones, but in between molars and underneath a previous filling or else the tooth coming out if it is too far gone. Our dentist suggested having it all done in one go in theatre under anaesthetic. My husband is extremely wary of general anaesthetics, so a lot of discussion has been going on over it. We had two options, the local hospital with our GP to do the anaesthetic, or a private hospital further away with a specialist anaesthetist.

A call to our medical insurer revealed that they only cover the costs of children under 6 for routine dentistry under anaesthetic.. . of course. My suggestion of sending Youngest in to have the work done instead, as she qualifies, didn't go down very well.

We chose the private hospital for its, we hoped, superior facilities and more reassuring aspect, then set about discovering the cost. A few phone calls later, reeling in shock, I returned to the dentist to find out the costs of the local hospital. Just the cost of booking the theatre, with some recovery time, costs 9 times more in the private hospital than at the local hospital! So we are now back into discussion mode again.

Has anyone had any experience of dentistry under anaesthesia with their children, or had a seven year old go through multiple fillings with just a local? I think we'll have to do it under a general, as she is very worried about having it done, even though her first and only filling last year was quick and straightforward and she was very patient having it done then. She went into a complete mope for an evening after the dentist gave us the bad news.

And before you ask: we have now started the children flossing, they have always cleaned their teeth, they don't drink Coke, only have sweets on Sundays… I think she is just unlucky in her teeth.

On a brighter note, the sun is shining, we've had our first autumn rain and the air has cooled down. It's cool enough to bake again and we are having a braai tonight!


  1. Can't he just do a local and only fill maybe two of them per week? She ought to be able to hold still for that long and though you would have to go back several times you wouldn't have the worry of putting her under. My sister was unlucky with her teeth as well and had several fillings done like that over a few weeks time. She was about eight at the time, if I remember correctly.

    Happy Baking!

  2. When my youngest girl was 6 she had to have a tooth extracted to make room for permanent teeth in her tiny jaw. The orthodontist gave her novacain and then a liquid sedative like Valium ( tranquilizer) she still freaked out and screamed bloody murder. I left the room..and sat in the waiting room hearing my child's cries of horror. The Dr. was terrible, very untolerant of the child and angry at her and I. He did get the tooth extracted..and charged us twice the normal amount for the procedure. It was a grueling experience. Youngest girl was loopy from the drug the rest of the day...and spent. On a young child I would recommend a tranquilizer that WORKS...sending the child into a twilight sleep...instead of unconsciousness. I understand the fear of that. Good luck with your decison. Dental work is such a pain in the ...

    I hope your passport woes work out. I don't understand the dual citizenship thing. Why can't your SA passport work for entering other countries? Our system is a total wreck too. I don't think US citizens are allowed dual citizenship. Not sure on this...We have visas. I'd have to ask an ex-pat. When I applied for a passport 20 years ago I was told not to smile. Passport photos are notoriously unflattering. I looked like a "most wanted" criminal. Good luck on the process. Have a great family visit to England.

  3. Why not try hypnosis? I found it wonderfully relaxing and the dentist had to virtually wake me up after an hour.
    Good luck anyway!

  4. Both my boys had dentistry work done under anesthesia here in the US. It was easy, although I was a nervous wreck during both. Our dentist chose a hospital that deals with kids regularly, which I think is important, and it all went smoothly. Good luck!

  5. looks wonderful.

    I would like to add you to my blog list. I teach at a waldorf school in AS USA

  6. Oh dear - dentistry woes... I had a baby tooth extracted when I was about 7 under local anaesthetic and found the entire experience tremendously traumatising. The next time we went back after that and I needed a small filling, I was given local again. When the dentist came back into the room to do the work after waiting for the anaesthetic to take effect, I pleaded that it hadn't worked but he said this was impossible and came at me with his drill. As soon as the drill was actualyl inside my mouth, I freaked out, thrashing around and kicking his tray of sterile instruments clear across the room. My mom thought the next thing she would see would be the drill coming through my cheek!! She was tremendously embarrassed and said my teeth could rot in my mouth before she took me to the dentist again. Talk abotu tough love!! Of course, I thought this was a fine arrangement - and it certainly made sure I paid extra attention to brushing and flossing! Well, some of my milk teeth did get holes in them, bubt eventually they fell out and I got my permanent teeth, and for probably close on 15 years I just didn'ty go to the dentist. When I eventually did go again, the dentist said I had not a single cavity, and that he was astonished at the condition of my teeth. My brother, on the other hand, went to the dentist every 6 months all his life and his mouth is one big filling. Go figure.

    Anyway, the point of this long story is that, if my mom had the chance to do it all again, I suspect whe would rather have let me have the extraction under general anaesthetic, as the extraction left me with a lifelong phobia of dentists. I do agree though that general anaesthetic is a big health risk to take for dentistry - possibly some sort of conscious sedation would be the way forward? A friend of mine who has as much of a phobia as I do (but worse teeth!) gets a prescription for Dormicum (a pre-anaesthesia med) before he goes to the dentist and sails through the visit.

    Good luck...


Thanks for your comments - I appreciate every one!