Those four words, spoken as I sat in the dentist’s chair, would portend of things to come, though I wasn’t to fully understand just what those things would be until later.
The wisdom teeth weren’t fully “in,” and weren’t going to get any more “in” than they were now, and since two of them were half-impacted into the soft tissue, they all had to come out. That’s what the oral surgeon said, and he’s the doctor. I can hold my own in discussions about the emergency care of asthma, acute myocardial infarctions, anaphylaxis, or traumatic injury. But I don’t know squat-all about oral surgery, and this guy worked at Emory a while back, and we have some professional colleagues in common, and he’s a Brave’s fan, and he has a 1970 Camero with an LS6 engine and Tremec T56 transmission, so I reckon he knows what he’s talking about.
So the wisdom teeth were coming out. I’d talked my good pal Kim into giving me a ride, and she came through in classic Kim style: 10 minutes late. Since the surgery was slated at 7:30 am, I had to be there at 7:15. Calculating Kim time into the equation, factoring for morning traffic, and the distance involved, we left my house at 6:45. This, of course, meant getting up at 6:00 to walk and feed the dogs. However, the conscious sedation planned for the surgery meant that I was not to eat or drink anything after midnight.
I would like to submit for discussion that requiring someone to be awake at 6:00 am sans coffee should be punishable by firing squad.
I amble back to the room, where a friendly and cheerful (I bet SHE had a cup of coffee this morning!) nurse gets things started: Blood Pressure cuff (112/72) and ECG monitor (Normal Sinus, 62/minute, no ectopy, elevation, depression, or abnormality noted,) and Pulse Oximeter (98%, room air.) Somewhat amusingly, she offers me Nitrous Oxide to “help me relax” before the doctor comes in to start an IV.
Seriously? Nitrous before an IV? You’re telling me that after all those years of wiping off the dirt, making a quick swipe with an alcohol prep, and jamming in the 16g needle while bumping down the pothole laden streets of Atlanta in a 10 year old ambulance with no shock absorbers, that I was doing it wrong?
I decline the Nitrous, explain that IVs don’t hurt and that I’m a man and can take it. She rolls her eyes in that “Oh, great… another testosterone fueled macho tough guy” way, and replies with an “Oh-kaaay.”
The doc walks in. He swabs the arm, sticks the vein, and mentions “I’ve got an advantage over you… I don’t have to do it while bouncing down the pothole laden streets of
The nurse says to me “What is it you do?” and I reply “Now, computer software, but I was a paramedic for more years than I can remember.” She gives me one of those “OK, you score one point for that” grins, and I reply with a wink. Let’s get this over with.
Ahhh…. Fentanyl and Versed: One of the classic combos of all time. Beer and hot wings. Chips and salsa. Laurel and Hardy. Fred and Ginger. Before long, I’m out of it. I vaguely recall the right lower extraction hurting more, and clenching the arm rest of the chair in a death grip with my left hand. I also recall the doctor asking me if I wanted to keep the wisdom teeth, to which I mumbled something that must have sounded like “No, thank you, Doctor,” and slowly coming around a short time later. Kim’s there, giggling at me and my drug-induced stupor, and the nurse is giving Kim some explicit directions about making sure I kept the gauze in place for at least two hours, took my pain pills, stuck to applesauce and pudding for the next couple days, and generally rested the rest of the day. With remarkable concentration, I managed to walk straight (more or less… more less than more more) to the car, and soon enough I’m home.
Post Op Day 1: I’m taking ibuprofen and Lortab as directed, start the antibiotics as directed, and have the great fortune to enjoy a Chateau Rothschild Rinse de Saline, 2009 Vintner’s Reserve. It has a lovely nose, a nice gritty texture with hints of bat urine and a turpentine base. Finishes with tones of formaldehyde and the itch of chewed sumac. Not too expensive, either.
Post Op Day 2: Pain is down, and I can get by with just the ibuprofen. Jaw feels like it met the fat end of a pool cue in a bar fight. Not that I’d know what that felt like or anything. I’ll save the remaining Lortab for another day, or perhaps put them in my backcountry medical kit, should I be out climbing and sprain an ankle or something. Getting pretty tired of pudding and applesauce, though. Sure could go for a more substantial meal… a nice bowl of chicken broth, perhaps.
Post Op Day 3: Dear God, I know I haven’t been to church since… well, a while. I’m sorry, really. I’d offer to go more often in the future, but it wouldn’t do to lie to the Almighty. So I’m only asking that you forgive me for this, and let me eat solid food. Just today, just once. Nothing much… a chicken wing. A roast beef sandwich with havarti, mayo, and lettuce. A boiled egg. A couple pounds of bacon. Anything, anything at all, just don’t make me eat applesauce and pudding again. Amen.
Post Op Day 4: The day starts as usual… coffee, salt water rinse, and pudding, with a side of applesauce. Follow up appointment today at 4:30, and the doctor says two wonderful things: The sockets are healing well, no signs of Dry Socket, and I can eat anything that my pain threshold can tolerate. That means some sushi and Crab Rangoon, and sweeter words have never been said since Becky Valentine told me I could hold her hand in 3rd grade.
I’ve got another follow up next week, and expect things to be fine.
Now if I could just manage to eat a pizza.