Tooth Extraction (happy drugs, swollen lips, and soup all over my shirt)


As anyone who follows any of my various internet outlets is fully aware, I had all four of my wisdom teeth removed yesterday (Thursday) morning.  It was not an event I was really looking forward to, but it had to be done. My teeth were in the process of becoming impacted toward the bone. Basically, there was not enough room for them to safely come up through the gum in my mouth. They were not causing any discomfort, but (as I found out by reading the giant, laminated, evils-of-wisdom-teeth magazine in the surgeon’s office) they could eventually cause much damage such as weakening the roots of my back molars, perhaps pushing teeth out of line, and causing infections or cysts. (That illustration was not pretty.)

I must confess that this operation has been long in the process. I was first referred to Dr. Medley, D.D.S. over a year ago by my Dentist to have my wisdom teeth removed. My Dentist’s office even emailed the X-rays for me and everything. So why did it take me so long to call? Honestly…I’m a wimp. I just didn’t want to have my teeth yanked out, so I didn’t call. Six months slipped by, and I had my next checkup. My hygienist clucked her teeth at me when she discovered all four were still in my mouth, took another expensive X-ray, and gave me the same referral slip. Well, months came and went, Christmas break came and went, and finally my parents told me that I needed to get it done now while I am still on their insurance. Oh. Oops.

So at the end of break I called, was asked all sorts of questions I didn’t know how to answer (are you allergic to penicillin, do you want to be put under for the surgery, what is your insurance under?) and was given a consultation appointment and a surgery date.

I think a lot of this reticence came from high school, when I had six baby teeth removed. My teeth are strong and deeply rooted, and two of the six had to be sliced in half before they could be pulled from my mouth. Did I mention that I was awake for this entire operation? I didn’t want a numb lip all day so I decided to stay up. After two giant needles in the mouth (causing more pain than I would care to relive) the extraction of my baby teeth commenced. I had no pain, but I could hear every twist, every crack, every break of a root being severed from the nerves. It was all quite interesting, and I got to keep the teeth, but afterward I started to have these dreams intermittently. What I had were nightmares. I never have nightmares. All of a sudden, every month or so (sometimes more frequently) I was having dreams about chipping or breaking my teeth. Sometimes they would just be loose and suddenly all fall out. Sometimes they would get caught on something and rip out of my head, taking gums and other stuff with them, sometimes I could hear the grinding and breaking and tearing. I had these dreams for years, and sometimes even waking I would mentally freak out thinking that a tooth was loose and would fall out. Eventually, the dreams and fears faded away, but I can still remember what they were like. I’ve only had two nightmares in my life that have not had to deal with my teeth.

All of this being said, I do love going to the dentist, but I guess I was just a little worried that I would go through a bit of this again so I didn’t want to make the appointment. Once made, the big question I had was, “Do I want to be put out?” Everyone I asked gave me a DEFINITE yes. I blame all the sci-fi and fantasy, but the idea of being put out and being operated on while not in control really did freak me out. I joked about it in my last post and in person, but I like to be in control of myself at all times, it scares me to not be in control.

When I got to the consultation the Dr. didn’t even give me an option, he just said that I would be put under and it was a relief to acquiesce without it actually having to be my decision. I had to do a couple of new things on Tuesday–I had to fill out my own paperwork at the office (I know its weird but when I go to my normal dentist–I’ve been there since I can remember–they just say “Hi Emilie” and I never go to the doctor), and I had to get prescriptions filled for the first time. It was strange, but good. Also, I don’t know what the numbers mean or remember what they were, but Angel, the friendly assistant, told me that my blood pressure was really good. She also loved my outfit. And told me not to wear tights to my surgery.

Wednesday night I could not eat or drink anything past 12pm, and for some reason I really, really wanted to eat and eat up until the deadline. I wasn’t hungry, but I sort of felt like it was preparing for the apocalypse. I had my dinner like usual and didn’t eat any more (I did drink water up until the deadline), and went to sleep. I woke up at 6:30, really nervous and ravenously hungry. I swear, in the mornings, I am always ravenously hungry. I didn’t shower, I put on sweats and my favorite Fezzik t-shirt, socks and tennis shoes. I brushed my teeth like they said I could. I only had a dash of water, just enough to get down the penicillin. (Which, turns out I am not allergic too. Good thing.) Mom and I arrived at the office at about 7:30. It was not open yet, so mom drove to Starbucks for coffee and a breakfast sandwich. I refused to go in, but even seeing the brightly lit advertisements inside made me hate her for about a second. I was hungry.

When the office was open I only had about 10 minutes to sit and collect my thoughts. The woman in blue scrubs opened the door, “Emilie?” she smiled and I threw my purse at mom before heading through the grey industrial door. We walked to the right of the fork, and I was led into a room at the end of the hall with a typical dentist chair and a not-so-typical vital signs monitor. It had cords of all types hanging off, and a heartbeat monitor. I took my sweater and glasses off. I rinsed my mouth with an antibacterial wash. I sat back and had my blood pressure and heart rate taken. A sensor was put on my finger, and I was left to wait. While waiting, I noticed that the room I was in did not have a window in the door like all the others. I got a little antsy and was fiddling around with my fingers, when the monitor I was attached to beeped and the attendant hurried in.

“Are you doing alright?”

“Yes” I grunted in surprise. She pressed a mute button on the monitor, and I realized with chagrin there must have been an alert button I pressed when fiddling with the monitor on my finger. Sorry, I’ve never really been hooked up to this kind of thing before!

About 8:30 the doctor finally came in, and everyone got down to business.  A tube was placed in my nose and I was freaking out a teeny bit thinking, “Oh god here it goes, here it goes. Am I going to know when I am about to be knocked out? Or am I just going to go?” A minute later a giant plastic mask was placed over the plastic tube in my nose, and I started to feel a little…funny. At first there was a woosh and an almost slight sickness, almost a feeling of being drunk. For a moment I was sleepy, and then I was fully awake and alert but oh so woooozy.

The Dr. put in the iv and connected it to a tube, and said, “Now, you’re going to be feeling very relaxed.”

I did feel very relaxed–floaty even. At first I wondered, “is this what it is like to be high? Weird.” Then I thought, “Wow I really am relaxed. This is just like yoga. I can feel all my muscles loosening up. This is more than yoga.” I felt the assistants strapping monitors around my right hand and ankles, something which I thought ought to worry me, but didn’t really. I felt the surgeon stand and get sort of close to my face.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

I came to while the nurse/assistant? (sorry I don’t know their real title) was taking the ankle monitors off of me. She asked me how I was, I tried to tell her fine, but couldn’t really make the word come out over my numb tongue and mouth. I laid there more a moment, just existing. Then, “Well, I guess it’s over.” I had to lay there for several minutes before the nurse would raise my chair. Then I had to wait again. I think I was laying there “recovering” for about a half hour. The lady in scrubs checked my blood pressure again and commented that it was a little low. She told me to try thinking of something exciting, and informed me that my mother had returned. I literally thought, “uuuuuuuuhhhhhh” for about a minute before thinking, “Exciting…huh… Well, I guess I’m graduating in a few months. Is that exciting? Yeah, I guess it is.” The nurse checked again, it seemed to do the trick, and she again commented on how great my blood pressure is.*

*Sidenote: I now am going to research and figure out what blood pressure numbers are and mean. I am intrigued.

She made a checkup appointment for me next Thursday at 2:15 (which I need to change to an earlier time so I can get back to SMU in time for a science lab, but I was a tad too brain dead to protest at the time). Mom came in, they went over my post-op instructions, and then agreed I could go home. The lady insisted on helping me on with my sweater and glasses, and holding my arm all the way out the hall and out the door to the car. I felt like an idiot, having the assistant, but she was determined and I figured it was easier not to protest. On the way out the surgeon passed by and told my mom that I did “really, really well” (I’m not sure what that means since I was knocked out the whole time) and I was back in the car on the way home with a bag of gauze and drugs in my hands, and lips and tongue the size of a pillow.

I tried to communicate with my mother via sign language and futile gestures. I was really hungry. I was numb, and a little sleepy. I was in at 8, out by 10. We got home, I changed my gauze, and mom put the BBC version of Pride & Prejudice on. I slept through about a third of the first  disk, and I am pretty sure half of the second. I think I missed everything after Elizabeth turning the page for Georgiana at Pemberly. Sad, that’s my favorite part! I was really hungry and dehydrated throughout this process but at first was so swollen I could not swallow. Eventually I was able to spoon water in my mouth, tip my head back, and it would go down. It was pretty pathetic. I was hungry too, so consumed three mugs of tomato soup in this painstakingly slow manner. Poor Fezzik was positively drenched in liquid that missed my mouth or dribbled down my bloated lip. In short–I was miserable. On top of that, the pain meds wore off of my cheeks, and the ibuprofen took a long time to set in. My mother laughed at my miserable face and that did it. I burst into tears for a minute, before calming down again. (It doesn’t help that I am right in the middle of the PMS storm.)

Around 7 pm my tongue finally started to de-numb. It reverted to its former self on the right side first, followed by the left. I was hungry again, and convinced mom to let me make macaroni and cheese. That’s soft, right? Well, it took me about 45 minutes to eat half a bowl, spooning noodle by noodle down my throat while catching up on Smallville. I still hurt, I could barely open my jaw, and I was covered in tomato soup. My dad got home, gave me a fudgesicle and applesauce, and I spent the rest of the evening watching Smallville and occasionally wishing for death. Or something.

At about 11pm I went to bed for the night, and the right side of my bottom lip was finally decreasing in size a tiny bit.

This morning, day two, I woke up with some bleeding again. I took my penicillin, my swelling prevention pill, and some ibuprofen. I rarely even take vitamins, so this pill-taking thing is really weird for me. My jaw still barely opens, although no bleeding. My lip and tongue are normal, but I am still restricted to liquids. Strong pain has been off and on.

I definitely put on sweats, and have been hobbling around feeling sorry for my slightly puffy cheeks in socks, leg-warmers and a robe. Did I mention the Dr. promised I would get a slight fever? Well, I did.

On the other hand, I was successful in turning in my notes, writing my Belltower articles, finishing my Smallville catchup (that’s right, all 9.5 seasons in about a month, ready to go for the 28th!) and in updating my blog. So, all in all, not a completely lost day I suppose.

I am very doubtful of being able to play the flute or sing on Monday, but I guess I shall find out.

Hope your day has been surgery free,

Sincerely,

an-ever-so-puffy

Emilie

P.S. This liquid diet SUCKS.

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11 thoughts on “Tooth Extraction (happy drugs, swollen lips, and soup all over my shirt)

  1. Hey!!! I know the liquid diet sucks! You will be all better before you know it. Just don’t be like me and let the moms feed you blended top ramen… texture is key!

    🙂 Miss you friend.

    – Alicia

  2. I love your reflections on being under anastesia– “Is is what’s its like being high?”. I guess it depends on the substance and on the user, under the drugs for wisdom tooth removal, I was out far quicker than…um, never mind.

  3. The first number in your blood pressure is how hard your heart has to push to get past the cuff when your heart is contracting. The second number is how much pressure is in circulation when your heart is resting. If the numbers are low, you have a chance of not getting enough blood to your head (and you can faint). If they’re high, you can mess with your kidneys and blow out an artery. Or just have hypertension.
    The golden numbers are 120/80, but I’ve never seen anyone with that. Mine runs at 108/60 which is considered too low. I’ve been ordered to eat salt ; ) which doesn’t exactly break my heart.
    The penicillin you had to take before your surgery was useless unless you have heart problems or have had endocarditis before. It’s just because when they cut open your mouth, some of the s. viridians that like to live in your mouth get into the blood and they really enjoy being in the heart, but if your heart is healthy they can’t stick to the walls, so it’s just extra antibiotics. My school hits pretty hard on all the terrible things that can happen when you kill off all your good bacterias, and they recommend that anyone who has taken a course of antibiotics should then take a course of probiotics to restore digestive balance and put the good guys bad in there.

    Anyways, that’s just my 11 cents ; )
    Glad you made it through!

    • Thanks! Always helpful to have a friend in med school. I think if I remember correctly it was like 127/8o or something. So I guess a tad high on the top? But she seemed pretty impressed. As to the penicillin…I just followed instructions 🙂

      • It’s the most normal blood pressure I’ve ever heard of. High is like…150/100, or something like that. I’ve seen 200/140, and that’s NO good.
        127/80 is Awesome!

  4. It doesn’t sound like your recovery went/is going as well as mine =( My face was barely swollen but I got one weird bruise on the side of my jaw about 4 days after… And I wasn’t told about this fever thing? I never got one though. Maybe it’s a top wisdom tooth only side effect? lol

    • No bruises yet, I hope that none come my way. Yeah I think it is pretty typical to develop a fever when your body is trying to fix itself.

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