What do you think of our theory about May’s pain?

Posted on May 11, 2013 | 7 comments

May started giggling last night. A frothy, snorting childish giggle that bore no resemblance to the screams of late. It was wonderful.

But, May’s troubles were not over. My husband and I escaped for a few hours today, but only down the road to a coffee shop. I wasn’t there long before May’s careworker phoned. “She’s having seizures,” she said anxiously, “and they don’t stop. They last 45 seconds and then stop and start up again.” I raced home. It wasn’t seizures – to which our careworker apologised over and over again but, like I told her, this is the kind of situation where mistakes are welcome.

It was the pain. May’s screams sliced through our afternoon. She stiffened and thrust out. Tears rolled down her cheeks. I sat with her alone in our front room. During one enormous scream, I glanced inside her mouth. Blood. May’s right upper gum was leaking blood out of her back molar. I set her down and grabbed some teething gel out of the kitchen. I rubbed a drop on her gum. One – two – three – four – silence.


A little sniffle as May’s considered the absence of her pain. Her tongue darted in and out of her mouth, partially numbed by the gel. I breathed.

A couple months ago, we received a letter from the specialist dentist that sees all the kids at May’s special school. At the time, she had two tiny nubs acting as molars at the back of her mouth.

The dentist wrote to inform us that all of May’s teeth had come in fully. He was wrong. Now she has one tiny nub, and one fully formed molar.

What I would have given to know that there was a possibility that May’s teeth had not fully pushed through her gums. Teething is an awful thing for all babies. But, it is worse for special needs kids who 1) can’t tell you what is wrong so you can help them, 2) can’t chew on things to accelerate the process and ease the pain, and 3) as a result, slow the whole process down taking years rather than months for the teeth to come in. Over time, babies’ gums harden. May is four years old. This leads to agonising pain: vomiting, ¬†seizures, screaming…

What I would have given to know this a week ago.

Of course, we are only 85% sure this is it. We will never know for certain because May can’t tell us. We can only hope we are right, and hope we catch it next time if the other molar wants to pop through too. (UPDATE: We have since found at least three ulcers/cold sores the inside of her bottom lip, probably also a result of her teething as she has been grinding her teeth a lot. They look very nasty and are also being seen to.)

Here is May (and me) an hour after her teething gel was applied. Photos really do speak volumes (click on the photos to enlarge):

¬†What do you think of our theory about May’s pain?


  1. awww I am so glad she’s feeling a bit better. xxxx :)

  2. Ahhhhhhhhh! My stomach is just a bundle of nerves right now, just reading this! I am hoping beyond hope that it’s just teething! The pictures are FANTASTIC! Specifically the smiles on both of your faces! Argh, give that sweet girl a hug for me, please! Not too tightly but just tight enough :-) And one for you …

    ::Bear Hug::

  3. Hang in there!You are doing great! Hope you have a peaceful Mother’s Day! Love, EllenXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXO

  4. I think it is as good an explanation as any and since the jel numby stuff seemed to help, I think it is probably a winner. You might also want to try giving her some baby aspirin/tylenol to see if that helps as well. I wonder if a pediatric dentist could do anything to help those teeth come in? Will she chew on something if you hold it in her mouth?
    Good luck and hugs for your sweet girl.

    • We’ve given her some baby pain relief – like you said – and it does help, but she hates it and struggles against it. Still we manage to get it in usually and it does a lot of good!

  5. This is always something I struggle to explain to parents of non SN children about teething. Not to blow our trumpet, but it is so, so much worse. I have two teethers in the house at the moment, and one is head banging and teeth grinding away. And like May, sick as a dog. Let’s hope the storm passes soon, poor may xxx

  6. I think I feel very glad that you finally found some relief for May – and thus for you! How sad and scary that previous week must have been for you, and how wonderful if it turns out to have been “only teething”! She does look so much happier in these photos. So do you! I hope you’ve had some sleep. :)

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