Where to Even Begin

I’ve read good books, seen one wonderful play, cooked some good meals, met with various friends, but I think I will have to start with the toothache.

I’ve always been sort of proud to have my appendix, tonsils and wisdom teeth. One wisdom tooth (bottom left) has always been a bit of a rogue, giving me the occasional hard time. This time the hard times just weren’t ending. By Thursday night I was icing my jaw and popping codeine left over from I don’t even know what. I felt like my jaw was breaking. So Friday morning I made a pathetic, begging phone call to a dentist around the corner and she agreed to let me walk in. Damon called my insurance company to have them switch my coverage, and it they faxed my paperwork over to the new office. So we’re firing on all cylinders.

Here’s where I send out a shout out to Judith, the receptionist. Most doctors’ receptionists have seen in all and aren’t impressed by much. But she took one look at my puffy, unhappy face and she said, “Here baby, you come on back here and I’m going to get you right on in.” I love Judith.

So they take a few x-rays of the left side of my face and then pop me in the dentist chair. Doctor Polanco came on in (her sandals were so great) and said, “I need to see your x-rays to know what’s going on, but let’s take a look in the meantime. I opened up as far as I could. She looked inside with her little light and said, “Nope! I don’t actually need to see your x-rays. You need that tooth out and you need it out right now.” So calls were placed to an oral surgeon and I was bustled off to see Dr. Su in Riverside.

Dr. Su took a look and said, “You must be in a lot of pain” which actually got a little laugh out of me. He went on to explain that at my advanced, decrepit age it was going to be much tougher but that I have no choice anyway. He also talked me into doing two teeth instead of one. At first he wanted three and I held the line at just the one that hurt. But his description of how the top wisdom tooth would push food into the wound from the lower tooth put me way over the edge. So we comprimised with two teeth out.

He argued that recovery is recovery and I might as well go for three (my fourth wisdom tooth is comfortably in and causing no trouble). I felt there were flaws in that argument and the recovery period has proved me correct. The fact that the right side of my mouth is still functional has meant a great deal to me over the past day or so.

So anyway, Dr. Su popped in an IV and said, “The pain you’re having is going to be gone for good in a matter of minutes. Now, you’re going to have some pretty substantial recovery pain, but that’s different.” Yes, it is different. Because the toothache itself, while truly miserable, did not cause me to lay on the bathroom floor and cry, which is where I found myself later that afternoon when the anesthesia fully wore off but before Rite Aid was finished filling my codeine presription. Smart girl that I am, I insisted on codeine rather than Demerol because I wanted to stay at least semi-lucid. So it took a while to kick in and that was an unhappy hour.

Damon, traumatized by my weeping and spitting out blood, dutifully woke me up every four hours to give me two more codeine in the hope of never seeing that again. That paid off in the short term, but did lead to a full day of vomiting for me today, as I was loaded up with painkillers but hadn’t eaten or had anything to drink in about 30 hours. That, turns out, is a bad combination.

The post-op recovery has had something to recommend it in that I’ve slept and slept and slept. The five hours or so I’ve been awake tonight is the longest I’ve gone by a wide margin.

Here’s an additional disaster component to this surprise surgery: I doubt I’ll be able to get out tomorrow and I think that’s my last chance to go see David Blaine in the bubble at Lincoln Center.


4 responses to this post.

  1. Wow. Just wow.


  2. Wow. Just wow.


  3. Aww you poor thing. I had 4 impacted wisdom teeth out when I was in college and I remember it being anything like what you went through.


  4. Aww you poor thing. I had 4 impacted wisdom teeth out when I was in college and I remember it being anything like what you went through.


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