When I was younger, my 12-year molars were removed because my teeth were very crowded and they all (read: the adults) thought this would be a great way to prevent my eventual wisdom teeth from effing up my mouth. Boy were they wrong.
Well, they were right for awhile actually. It wasn't until around 2005 or 2006 (when I was 21 or 22-ish) that any of my wisdom teeth began actually erupting through my gums. But instead of growing in like a normal tooth, sliding seamlessly into the space that my 12-year molar had so generously left for it, this one decided to grow in ON CRACK. Here's a brief diagram of what I mean:
You can imagine that having a tooth grow in at such an unfortunate angle posed some problems. Those problems are as follows:
1. Food constantly got wedged in that awkward area between my wisdom tooth and the molar beside it:
2. It was impossible to keep its surface clean because a tooth brush couldn't adequately maneuver its way into that peculiar wedge:
|. mreh .|
When we moved to Vancouver we acquired dental insurance - the first time I'd had it since 2006. In January, when our insurance plans finally kicked in, I took my fine ass to the dentist. She was... unimpressed with the fact that I hadn't gotten the blatantly troublesome wisdom tooth removed yet. She even went so far as to remind me that I wasn't getting any younger and that the healing process for getting a tooth removed would only become more difficult as I aged. With that information, a date was finally set for me to get the G.D. thing taken out.
This past Friday WAS that date.
For those of you who have been 'neath a rock for the last week and a half or so, last week was an insane week for anyone who either lived in or gave a crap about someone who lived in Boston. Or if you are an American in general, last week was a fucking crazy week. The bombings in Boston, the subsequent uncertainty and chaos, the shooting at MIT, the shootouts and car chases, the lockdown of an entire city and its suburbs... throw in the fertilizer plant explosion in Texas and a few other miscellaneous pieces of bad news... and last week can seriously go screw itself.
With ALL of that going on ALL week long - one thing after another - I was glued to the news stations and websites and live news feeds for entire days at a time. However, feeling so incredibly anxious and displaced and worried about the bad things that were happening everywhere in the U.S. had the unintended side effect of making me forget to be anxious about my impending tooth removal! I didn't have room in my brain to be nervous about it at all.
If you know me well, you might know that I get anxious going to the dentist because my teeth are very sensitive so it's very painful for them to be touched by someone. It's even more painful for them to be scraped and poked by metal instruments or blasted with cold air and water. The fact that there was no unease or tension going into my oral surgery is, for me, beyond unheard of.
Even as I sat in the chair in the surgery room, waiting for the doctor to come and maul my poor gums, I wasn't nervous. Something about the chaos in Boston had numbed me into thinking that something as simple and small and undramatic as a tooth removal had no business being made into a big deal. Make a fuss about getting a tooth pulled out? How could I possibly, after the week that other people had just been through?
I didn't mean for this blog to take a debbie turn, but that was something that stood out to me while I was getting an inch-long Novocaine needle rammed into my gums repeatedly: This isn't pain or discomfort. Pain is what the people who were just maimed by bomb shrapnel are feeling right now.
Dramatic? Maybe. But it worked to keep me calm at the time.
Alright, now back to the fun stuff. Novocaine! That stuff is supposed to be awesome, right?? Supposed to make your shit feel like... nothing at all! Well #oops, someone forgot to tell MY body that 28 years ago because no matter what the occasion I will consistently - like, crazy consistently - require 4-to-5 times the amount of Novocaine that anyone else seems to need. Know what that means? That means that the doctor will always always always begin working on me and I can still feel it. #Ouch.
This time was no exception - they needed to stop about 5 times throughout the procedure to re-shoot me with more Novocaine.
Another reason I don't like the dentist: I have a pretty small mouth, as it turns out (hence the crowded teeth situation). The normal tools that a dentist will use to prop a patient's mouth open are too big for me, resulting in a "holy crap I swear to God my jaw is about to break" sensation. I made them take that prop out within about 3 minutes because I truly was worried that they might accidentally break my jaw. I'm not kidding. At one point during the surgery, the surgeon told me five times in a row to open my mouth - it was already open as far as it would go - and then asked me if I could HEAR her. I literally pointed to my mouth and shrugged. That was my nonverbal way of communicating to her, "Bitch, I can't unhinge my jaw for you. This is as wide as it goes. #WorkWithIt."
Remember that problem that I described earlier, about how the odd angle of the wisdom tooth made it hard for a toothbrush to finagle its way into that crevice? Turns out that that same odd angle made it equally as trying to get a "tooth-yanker-outer" in there to remove the tooth easily. The result? The surgeon needed to crack my poor tooth into several pieces and then dig each piece out one by one. I'm just glad I didn't have to watch this part, though I did get to hear it... plus feel the pressure of the doctor using all of the muscles in her entire tiny body to rip the pieces of my tooth out of my jaw. I hope she took herself outside for a cigarette afterwards.
At the end of the bloody battle - you know the point at which the dentist usually says something awesome to you like, "You've been such a good girl. Here is a lollypop, a coupon for unlimited ice cream, and a bunch of pain killers" - my oral surgeon looked at me and said... "So you have Motrin at home, right?"
FML. You mean the same medicine that handles my menstrual cramps? You want that to suffice here, now that you've literally dug a hole into my gums and sewn it back up with what can only be described as dental floss and a fish hook? Swell.
No, literally... my face is swelling up.
Before leaving the office I requested that they let me keep my tooth, now in four distinct pieces. I didn't think it was a strange request, but they were very clearly taken aback for an instant before the dental assistant slid the bloody bits into a tiny ziplock bag for me. I tried to explain my logic, which went as follows: "That stupid tooth has been causing me so much grief for so long [please see points 1-3 from earlier in this blog] that I deserve to look it in its face." But the entire left side of my face was completely numb from being shot up with about a gallon of Novocaine, so it probably came out more like, "Blehhhhh. Drool."
Anyway, here's the little SOB now - what, you thought I wasn't going to include a pic of my tooth here in this blog? Come on.
|. and yes, of course i've tried to put it back together .|
. like all great puzzles, it's missing some pieces .
What an adventure, huh!? Well it's not over yet; I am definitely still recovering. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday my diet was strictly beverages, ice cream, luke-warm soup, and a steady flow of Tylenol/Motrin/amoxicillin. I started chewing things on Monday and have been struggling to chew things ONLY on the right side of my mouth ever since. It's a real - how you say? - bitch. It makes eating slower and actually tasting my food a lot trickier. I've also been swishing pretty often with salty water and icing my face with an ice pack. The ice isn't doing anything for the swelling at this point (I still look like I have a serious jowl situation going on, on the left side of my mouth), but it helps to ease the soreness each time my medicine wears off.
And the medicine seems to wear off constantlyyyyyy. In the interim between the time that the meds wear off and the next dose kicks in, I turn into a whiny little bitch. Like.... actually whimpering out loud. It sucks, but statistics imply that I'll probably make it through this alive. Especially since I'm taking my antibiotics every 8 hours like a good girl.
So in conclusion.... one wisdom tooth down, three to go!