One of my co-workers told me a story about something her 12 year old daughter said to her one day. She told her daughter that she had to have “oral surgery.” The daughter looked quizzical, then said, “What is that, exactly? Is that where they just like talk you through the surgery?”
No. And YES. Apparently.
As you all know, with much ado, I had an appointment Thursday afternoon to have a tooth extracted with an oral surgeon. He was very nice, and I was relatively calm. (Thanks to the pain pill I had 2 hours before and the xanax I had 30 minutes before, thank you very much. I am all about preventative medicine.)
He takes a look at my x-ray, and assures me that this will be easy, then walks out. I am laying in the “big chair” and hear the assistants behind me talking about what they had for lunch, about the lady who’s in the waiting room an hour too early (some people are that excited about going to an oral surgeon???) , and about how my room is all out of “topical”. I say, in a low voice, that we will need more of that. “What, hun?” “Are you talking about topical anesthetic?” “Yes.” “Well, you need more of that for my room. Lots and lots more.” “It’s fine, sweetie, we are getting it,” she said as she giggled on her way out of my room. Why do they keep walking behind me, where I can’t see their faces?
The doctor comes back in, I tell him that I’m ashamed that I put off having this tooth taken out for so long, but that I was terrified of him (not you, specifically, sir) and that I couldn’t overcome my fear. It wasn’t until the tooth became abscessed that I decided that it was better to have it removed than to die from a stupid tooth infection spreading to my brain and going out of this world looking and acting like Cujo…foaming at the mouth and with crazy eyes. (I also spared the doc the Cujo analogy). He said not to worry about it, that he sees this all the time, it’s just human nature. He gives me the injections once the topical has kicked in, and then walks out again.
Okay. I’ve been lying back in the big chair for all of 8 minutes. Translated into oral surgeon office chair standard time (OSOCST), that’s like 45 minutes. I am rigid and my fists are balled up in knots. I realize that if I stay this way much longer, I won’t be able to walk out of the office. I have already sent my husband to the waiting room, for two reasons: a) he’s been telling me not to be worried, that they will use a hammer and a chisel to get it out if they have to, and b) he’s likely to pass out at the first sight of blood.
I try to relax. The xanax should have done this for me, right? Apparently one wasn’t enough. I have to physically relax each muscle in my body. The doc comes back in. He pokes at my gums with a sharp object. Which I can FEEL! I tell him that I can feel it, and he said, “Yeah, that’s what I thought,” (UH, okay, then why’d you fricking POKE me then??) and gives me another two shots. “That’s the good stuff, now, you won’t feel a thing in a minute.” True to his word, I soon feel a slow numbness creeping across my upper jaw, the right side of my face, my tongue, the entire roof of my mouth and my lips. Wow. This rocks. Now that I’m truly numb (and I know because I did that thing with my finger where you rub it with your other finger and it feels like you are rubbing a dead finger, but on my gum, and then I had to wipe the slobber of my chin with the little towelette one of the faceless nurses had given me) I’m stoked.
“Okay,” I thought to myself, “I’m ready now. Let’s do this, bitches.”
The doc walks back in. “You ready?” “Yespsh!” (Wipe the chin). He starts. I’m so excited that I can’t feel anything that I am smiling a big wide-mouthed half-smile because I only have control of the left side of my face, it seems. Then he says, “Oh, my, you DID put this off too long. It’s worse than your x-ray led me to believe.”
He continues to talk the entire time he works. He says things after each sentence, like, “you know?” to which I instinctively feel like I should respond, but there are two people stuffed inside my mouth, and my head is pressed so far into the big chair’s headrest that I can’t nod. I finally give up after a few sentences. The numbness and and xanax didn’t do a thing for the noises I could hear coming from my mouth, and inside my head. The cracking, grinding, and popping. I thought surely I was going to vomit. I tried to tell him that, but he was busy telling me about how he had to have 5 teeth extracted recently, so he could understand what I was going through. He said they gave him general anesthesia, but it wore off too soon, and he awoke to a hammer and chisel in his mouth. (?!!) He kept saying that mine was a tougher case than he realized. I finally closed my eyes, gripped the big chair, and bore down. Finally, he was done.
I was so relieved. I asked the doc if he could give me another shot, for the road. He laughed, and walked out. I wasn’t joking. I asked the nurse if I could take some of the topical with me. She giggled too. What the hell was so funny around here? “It will wear off in about 2 hours, so we are calling you in some pain medicine.” Sweet.
I slept for almost the rest of the day, and when I woke up, it wasn’t my phantom tooth that was hurting, it was my neck, my hands and my jaw. I had fought a battle in the big chair. And the tooth had lost. But I could feel my battle scars. What a romantic analogy for such a gross and disturbing day. I was actually pretty traumatized by it, to be honest, as I expected to be.
I can tell you this, that tooth has been a thorn in my side for as long as I can remember. I’m glad it’s over.
When I talked to my mother yesterday, who shares my discontent with dentists, she told me that she was proud of me, for having put on my “big girl panties and going through with it.” Thanks, mommy. Thanks.