1. Hello, world! I’m coming to you half as wise as the last time we spoke. Two of my wisdom teeth came out on Saturday, and I have (so far) lived to tell the tale. I spend most of my days assuming that death by means ripped straight from a tabloid headline is right around the corner, and having surgery on my mouth obviously has not assuaged that fear at all. But at this point I’m still alive, so yay!
2. As I mentioned literally two sentences ago, I opted to only have two of my wisdom teeth removed. The stress of, “what if?” in regards to my top wisdom teeth and the risk of sinus perforation, combined with the absolute lack of information I had about my oral surgeon (more on that later), just felt like too much for me to handle, especially when you consider that the top wisdom teeth haven’t given me any grief up to this point anyway. Only one of my four wisdom teeth has ever given me any grief, so even getting the two removed felt excessive, since only one was an actual problem. I had my annual physical two Mondays ago, as I mentioned last week, and while I was there, bemoaning my upcoming wisdom teeth extraction to my doctor, she recommended me to an oral surgeon who is both a DDS and an MD (O.O That is SO. MUCH. SCHOOL. Four years of undergrad, plus four years of dental school, plus four years of medical school, PLUS, according to this guy’s bio, SIX YEARS in residency! So much school.). Given the potentially complicated nature of my upper wisdom teeth, I’d prefer to go to someone who not only knows about mouths, but also knows about sinuses, if I need those ones out. I was going to try to get in with him for a consultation before Saturday, but he didn’t have any opening for weeks, so that was unfortunately a no-go. Anyway, he’s on my radar for a consultation maybe sometime later this year. In the mean time, I was only comfortable getting my bottom wisdom teeth out, which I made quite clear to everyone in the office on Saturday.
3. The procedure itself, at least from my unconscious perspective, was infinitely simpler than I anticipated. I had never been under any kind of anesthesia before, not even Novocaine, so I guess I didn’t really know what to expect, but–and I realize this sounds stupid, but it’s true–I didn’t expect to be so unconscious. After they brought me back to where they’d take my teeth out, the nurse took my blood pressure (a sky high 140/100, compared to the 110/80 I had been at the doctor five days before–told you I was anxious), they inserted the IV (another new experience – I had never had one of those before. Though, after all the poking I went through last week, it wasn’t nearly as traumatic as I anticipated), they leaned me all the way back in the chair, my throat got a funny feeling in it, and the next thing I knew, I was semi-conscious and talking. It was all so bizarre. Coming off the anesthesia reminded me a bit of what it’s like to wake up from fainting (three time pro at that over here *brushes shoulder off*), except, somehow, less disorienting. When I’ve regained consciousness after fainting, it starts out with me feeling like I’m in a dream-like state where I can hear what’s going on around me, but I’m too tired to actually respond to it, and I’m not even entirely comprehending what’s happening–like I can hear people saying my name, but I don’t know where they are, where I am, or why they’re saying it. Then I wake up, drenched in a cold sweat, totally disoriented, and am basically useless for the rest of the day. This was a lot like that, except I did remember that I was at the dentist, and it was substantially less jarring to wake up. I was in an absolutely fabulous mood coming off anesthesia, and was talking to the nurses before I was even aware that I was talking to them. I actually woke up to myself talking. It was such a strange experience. I felt like I was thinking clearly, like my head didn’t feel fuzzy or clouded or anything weird like that at all, but I also felt so silly, for lack of a better term, like I was drunker than I’ve ever been in my entire life (not that that would take much). I had spent most of Friday listening to the soundtrack from The Greatest Showman and part of Saturday morning before going to the dentist watching behind the scenes videos on YouTube from the movie (which is kind of weird, because if I’m being honest, I really didn’t think the movie was that great. I thought the pacing was all off, the whole thing felt way too rushed, and–and maybe this is just because I’m particularly fond of through-sung musicals, like Hamilton or Les Mis or Phantom–so much of the musical part of it just seemed awkward. It made perfectly good sense when there was singing and dancing during the shows, but then since they did it in “real life” too, it was just…awkward. So yeah, I wasn’t much of a fan of the movie, but the music is really catchy.), so, despite not liking the movie all that much, I definitely had Broadway on the brain when I was coming to post-op. I very clearly remember declaring to the nurses that I want to be on Broadway someday (which is true, but only in the same way that I want to, like, be an Olympian or win the Boston Marathon or something. It’s a nice thought, but I’m definitely not quite there in the talent department 😛 ), and I also remember trying to explain how I didn’t get to see Ben Platt in Dear Evan Hansen in October, but that was hard to verbalize when I was so loopy. Eventually, the nurses decided they didn’t need to hear about my Broadway ambitions anymore and rolled me out into the waiting room to meet up with my ride, who had the great pleasure of being subjected to my mouth-full-of-gauze renditions of The Greatest Showman songs, my declarations that I “just wanna DANCE!” followed by rationalization that even though I couldn’t stand up, I could dance in a chair, and my proclamation that the Sears Tower is an “architectural wonder.” So the good news is, even when I’m high as a kite on anesthesia, I am apparently still on brand (though I didn’t mention birds at all. For shame!).
4. Speaking of all of this whole anesthesia experience: the receptionist at the dentist mentioned that post-op patients are either usually zombies, bawling their eyes out, or chatty when they’re coming off anesthesia. I ABSOLUTELY expected to be a crier, so it was a huge surprise to me that I was a chatterbox instead. Although the more I thought about it, the same thing happens to me if you put more than one alcoholic beverage in me in the space of like five hours, so perhaps chattiness is just how I respond to being uninhibited. Despite my ability to ramble on and on on the blog, I’m usually not that chatty in real life unless I know you well. Apparently sobriety is the only thing that keeps that in check for me, haha.
5. The recovery experience, thus far, has not been my favorite life moment to date. I haven’t felt like my pain is unmanageable–the prescription-strength ibuprofen I got has been doing the trick quite nicely–but everything else that goes along with this has just made me miserable. I didn’t get sutures, which means I have two gaping holes in the back of my mouth where my teeth used to be. Those will fill in with time, but not nearly enough time has passed yet, and they’re driving me up a freaking wall. I can’t eat anything without food getting stuck in them, which isn’t painful, but it’s such a hassle to have to flush them out after every. single. meal. On top of that, I’m also doing salt water rinses–not really sure if I need to still be doing those, but they make me feel better about keeping my mouth clean, so I’m still doing them–after every meal, and it’s all such a nuisance that I don’t even want to eat because of how much work I know I’m going to have to go through afterwards. My lack of interest in eating obviously hasn’t done me many favors in the energy department. On Monday, in fact, I could barely sit up in the afternoon, I had so little energy and strength. A bowl of Jello and glass of V8 Fusion fixed that immediately, so clearly it was a calorie issue, but man, I just hate this. I hate feeling like I have to chew my food with my front teeth, I hate only being able to eat soft foods, I hate having holes in my mouth, and I hate being so damn tired all the time. I originally hoped to go back to work on Tuesday, which definitely didn’t happen, then thought I’d go back for a half day on Wednesday but wasn’t able to get myself to the CTA that day, either. Hmph. I know my limited caloric intake holds a lot of responsibility for my fatigue, but I haven’t been sleeping very well, either. It’s taking me way, way longer than usual to fall asleep, and once I do fall asleep, I’ve been averaging about 8 percent of my night in deep sleep, according to my Fitbit. Even considering that Fitbits are hardly super accurate medical devices, I usually spend somewhere between 18 and 22 percent of my night in deep sleep, so I’m clearly not getting the rest I’m used to. I knew it would take time for all of this to heal, but since all of my previous healing experiences have been limited to healing from minor illnesses, where it takes 24-48 hours to notice major improvement, this is uncharted territory for me. And I hate it.
6. I got my wisdom teeth taken out by an oral surgeon affiliated with my dentist’s office, and let me tell you, if I could go back in time and do it all over again, I 100 percent would not have gone that route. I thought it would be simpler to keep everything in-house, and maybe it was from a coordinating standpoint, but I was #notimpressed with the entire process. When I went to the dentist in December to get a scan done prior to scheduling my extraction, they sat me down with one of the dentists in the practice I had never spoken to before (not the oral surgeon), who reviewed my images with me, recommended that I get all four teeth out with the caveat that there were additional risks for the top two that I could discuss with the oral surgeon day-of, and then was handed off to some woman who talked–TALKED–me through my pre-surgery prep, even though my surgery wouldn’t take place for another five weeks. I have no idea who this woman was–is she a hygienist? A dentist? Just a random person who needed a job and happened to get one at my detinst’s office?–and I wasn’t given any warning that the information she was giving to me 1) would only be delivered to me once and 2) would only be delivered verbally. I didn’t get any paperwork, no handy, “This is what you need to do to prepare” pamphlet that I could refer to closer to my appointment. Plus, she was just not a friendly person, which I realize is maybe fairly insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but her harsh “bedside manner,” if you will, was offputting. I then had absolutely zero communication from the dentist until 48 hours before my appointment, where another random person–again, not the oral surgeon, or even the dentist–went through a couple, but not all, of the things the first random woman had told me back in December. No one even told me the name of the oral surgeon. Wtf?!? When I showed up to the dentist on Saturday, I had to sign my life away and then pay before my appointment, which was fine, except that my charges were for getting four wisdom teeth removed, and I hadn’t had any opportunity to talk to the oral surgeon about the top two like the dentist has initially implied. So I told the receptionist I was only consenting to the removal of my bottom two, and then had to relay that information to the oral surgeon myself! And if I hadn’t, I’m sure he would’ve taken out all four teeth! There was no consultation, no introduction, nothing. And frankly, his bedside manner left a lot to be desired, too. He was just as brusque and no-nonsense as the woman who talked me through the pre-op procedures in December. Maybe he was going for professionalism or something, but for God’s sake, man, my blood pressure and heart rate stats were right there. It doesn’t take someone with an advanced degree to look at those numbers and deduce that I was anxious af and maybe, JUST MAYBE, could’ve used a little kindness in that moment. They did have the courtesy to send me home with a one pager about post-op care, but when I received a follow-up call on Monday afternoon I was, once again, just talking to the office’s receptionist, not the surgeon or even one of the dentists. I had a bad reaction to a tetanus shot I got last week–another story for another blog post–and my doctor, the ACTUAL DOCTOR–not a receptionist, not a nurse, not the office’s medical assistant–took two minutes out of her evening on Friday to call me to see how I was doing. The reaction I had to the tetanus shot, though not enjoyable, was HARDLY as traumatic from a physical standpoint as getting two teeth ripped out of your skull. If my primary care physician, who almost certainly has a higher patient load in a week than my oral surgeon, can find time to call me, I don’t think it’s unreasonable of me to expect SOMEONE with a dental degree to follow up with me after SURGERY. But no, apparently that was too much to ask of my dentist’s office. While I haven’t been particularly unimpressed with them from a routine dental work standpoint, I absolutely would not use my dentist’s office for any oral surgery needs ever again.