Thursday, March 17, 2005

Wisdom Teeth Extracted

Today I got my top wisdom teeth out. I've been dealing with the pain of broken wisdom teeth for the past year when they collapsed after I bit down on a Granola Bar. Last summer, I went to the dentist because the tooth began to cut into my cheek and cause me discomfort. It started off as a tiny cavity, but I guess since I didn't take care of it due to my deathly law school schedule, I let it get out of hand. A few months later, I mustered enough time to make and attend a dentist's appointment; after waiting seven weeks for a referral to an oral surgeon, I decided not to get my tooth extracted at all because the approval form from the insurance company said "anesthesia not included in the insurance coverage". Were they kidding?!? No anesthesia?!?

I decided that my razor-sharp, 3-sided tooth would stay in my bruised mouth until either 1) it got infected and I went to the emergency room or 2) until I mustered enough courage to do the extraction procedure without anesthesia. What bothered me most was not necessarily the pain, but my friends' descriptions of the creaking sound of the tooth's root as it is yanked out from the bone. Nevertheless, after recent desperation from the unbearable pain, I went back to the dentist last month and this time around, the anesthesia was included in the approval letter from the insurance company. Phew! What a relief! I was actually getting nervous because on a few occasions, I almost passed out from the pain which spread up my jaw and up the side of my head. I would gargle Listerine just to kill any bacterial buildup because I was mortified about going to the dentist without anesthesia.

Today, sitting there in the dentist's chair, I was afraid of the pain I would experience during and after the extraction. Hah! They gave me anesthesia in the form of an injection; I asked what happened to the mask with the laughing gas and the black rubber bulbs on each side of the mask like they showed on Steve Martin in "Little Shop of Horrors"; they told me that mask was old school. They connected an IV to my arm (I refused to look at it because I was afraid of getting nauseas by seeing the needle). They asked me to bite down on something black that they put in my mouth. As I was biting down, the next thing I remembered was being escorted into a room with a bed, and my mother was there. I wasn't dreaming -- this was real. I asked her when they were going to start the procedure, and she told me everything was finished. I couldn't believe it. I was just given an injection, and the next thing I knew was that I was finished. I don't even remember passing out. I wish I could do this for law school. Not to mention the drug high for about an hour afterwards that I was experiencing from the anesthesia. I couldn't figure out what they gave me, but I couldn't stop talking. I remember saying as loud as I could that "I've changed my opinion of dentists. I love the dentist's office!"

Now I've picked up and taken my first dose of Vicodin and Amoxicillin, and I am chewing on the bloody gauze that they stuck into the two holes in my mouth. I know I wasn't supposed to eat, but after all that, I was so hungry that I had the munchies and so I ate most of a pie of pizza. The instructions actually said that I could eat something soft, so the lawyer in me rationalized oily pizza as being permitted under those instructions.

Regarding the bloody gauze, there might be a problem from the standpoint of jewish law because both Jews and non-Jews alike are forbidden from eating the blood of an animal that is still alive. I don't know if this applies to my own blood, or just that we may not eat the blood of an animal before it has been properly slaughtered. I won't even mention that I am terrified of swallowing the gauze and choking on it tonight when I sleep. But that is it for me tonight; I don't expect much else to go on except that perhaps I will pass out from the emotional exhaustion of today's events. What an experience!


ariadneK, Ph.D. said...

So how is the wisdom-tooth recovery going? :-) Hopefully well.

Things are getting a bit better for me (I left a comment in response to you on my blog); what with the unrelated issues going on at work however (I'll keep that as updated as I can on the blog, but the next few weeks are going to be SO busy it's not even funny), I feel like I need a vacation.

Take care,

ariadneK, Ph.D. said...

(Random message addition): I told my boss (NOT the institute's director though, I'd boil in oil before I would do that) today that I'm bipolar to explain a few things to him. I've never seen an expression exactly like the one he had, but actually I feel better.

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