Learning to Deal with Sympathy Pain – Part II – What? Wrong Tooth?

On Friday afternoon, I was taking a cat nap in the living room – it has been an exhausting week to worry about Tora’s “un-improvement” after the dental surgery.  A telephone call from the dental vet woke me up.  First, he asked how Tora’s been doing, so I told him that the recovery is not fast, and in fact, Tora shows signs of pain and discomfort.  He suggested continuing Buprenex (pain killer).  Then, he said, “I’ve been looking over Tora’s dental radiographs… and I am so sorry that I extracted the wrong tooth.”

I couldn’t find the words to respond to what I just heard.  In my head, I was saying, “NO, no, no, no, no, it cannot be true.”  Then, I heard the vet said, “I just don’t know…I don’t know how it happened.”  I couldn’t bear the news.  My nightmare became real.  I was telling my friend a few days after the surgery that looking over the scanned copy of radiographs myself, it seemed like the wrong tooth (Lower-Right canine) was extracted instead of the correct one (Lower-Left canine).  Jeffrey called the office to help us interpret the particular radiograph because it could be our amateur eyes that making mistakes.  Sometimes radiographs’ angles can be tricky to correctly interpret.

"I don't understand...did I do something wrong?"


The office manager tried explaining that what we were seeing was in such a way that appears confusing, but said that the vet did pull the correct tooth.  At some point in our conversation (I was listening in), she realized that the wrong tooth might have been pulled, but immediately after, her logical mind seemed to over-ride her wisdom in judgment.  She reaffirmed that the vet extracted the correct canine.  As we requested, she promised to send us clearer and more detailed radiographs to us.   We didn’t receive the radiographs or a telephone call for three days until the dental vet call to admit his mistake. 

I felt sick in my gut.  What if this was a right-leg amputation done wrong instead of a left-leg?  The cat will lose both legs because of the mistake.  We are not over the emotional pain.  Tora is still on Buprenex.  He, somehow, still suffers from physical pain.  When we stop the medication, he shows the symptoms of pain (hiding in dark places, not eating, sensitive to touch, etc.)

Our original sympathy pain for Tora seemed to be getting worse.  My sister told me to take it easy because the animal’s physical/emotional healing can be amazing.  We are humans who “remember” and “hold on to” thoughts and emotions.

"Go, T.O.R.A. Toraaaa!! I'm the official cheerleader in this house!"


Our household official cheerleader, Mikan, has been an incredible supporter to us.  She is 100% happy with herself 24/7.  It was so lovely to watch Mikan giving Tora five “soothing licks” on his forehead the other day.  Tora usually glooms her.  Until his tongue gets stronger again, I am brushing Mikan every day.  The good news out of this terrible ordeal is that we (humans) are making intimate connection with Mikan.

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