Jackson’s Wiggly Tooth and Long-term Side Effects

12 Aug
The tooth in question.

That bottom middle baby tooth is getting some serious peer pressure.

Jackson has a loose tooth and he won’t let me pull it out. It’s driving me crazy.

I remember being little and wig, wiggle, wiggling my loose teeth all day. Pushing with my tongue and twisting with my fingers until you feel that little snap and you know it’s coming out. Jackson is interested in none of the above. He wants to avoid any type of pain whatsoever, and prefers to chew around his loose pearly white. I think his new permanent tooth is just going to come all the way up until the baby tooth literally falls out. From what I’ve been seeing when he lets me look inside, that could be any week now!

One of the side effects from the chemo Jackson received is long-term dental problems. I’ve read stories about children who have misshapen or missing permanent teeth, teeth that come in black and other kids with softer teeth that are cavity-prone. Jack’s been to the dentist a handful of times now, and there hasn’t been any red flags raised. He’s still cavity free and his quick x-rays have looked normal. He’ll get a full x-ray on his next 6-month checkup.

When you give a one-year-old chemotherapy, the list of side effects is long and overwhelming. I am beyond grateful that most of his problems have been either treatment related and temporary, or long term and minor. His blood counts and urine have long returned to normal. His heart and kidneys are in excellent shape. (We do go for yearly echos and EKGs to check in, because it can show up later.) Jackson’s got very minor foot drop, and he’s missing an adrenal gland. Duh! He’s hypersensitive to vaccines and takes longer than normal to get over illnesses. Jack also has a wicked gag reflex and tends to have a sensitive stomach. I don’t know if that’s from scar tissue, radiation or if that’s just how his stomach is. His height and weight are in the 90th percentile, so no growth issues. Overall, he’s in really good shape for all that nasty stuff we threw at him.

Jackson biggest permanent issue (so far) is bi-lateral hearing loss. Going into his diagnosis, he had perfect hearing. But over his six months of chemo, Jackson received Cisplatin and Carboplatin, which are both highly ototoxic. The hearing damage from the “platins” usually begins in the higher frequencies. Everett and I had done research on this side effect before Jackson began his third round of chemo and the oncologist was able to get the hospital enrolled in a study giving high doses of Sodium Thiosulfate following Cisplatin. I’m not sure if it helped Jackson specifically or not, but we had to try. By the time Jackson was going in for stem cell transplant, he had already taken a hit in high frequency hearing. Who knows, maybe his hearing would have been much worse. I need to follow up and see if results have come out from that trial.

The first hurdle with Jackson’s hearing loss was that it occurred before he really began to talk. That was hard for me to take, though the two of us had almost an unspoken way of communicating. In the midst of treatment, right as he was turning two, we enrolled him in speech therapy and he was fitted for hearing aids. It didn’t take long for Jack to catch up with a little help.

Jackson healthy, tan and busy collected shells at the beach a few weeks ago.

Jackson healthy, tan and busy collected shells at the beach a few weeks ago.

Now you’d never know he has moderate to severe high frequency hearing loss, even when he’s not wearing his hearing aids. It’s not something we really dwell on, because he had to have the chemo to live. Jackson does notice that he’s different from other kids now. Most of the time, children are just accepting on them but sometimes they can be a little cruel. Jackson brushes it off well. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

As for the future, I get worried about the risk of secondary cancer and I wonder if he’ll be married one day when the fertility side effect will rear its ugly head. I try not to let myself think about that though. Time has been good to us and it’s eased the intensity of my worry. I’m just glad to focus on when Jackson will let me pull that tooth out.

I hear the Tooth Fairy pays top dollar for the first tooth.

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