Monday, July 15, 2013

The Four Faces Of Novocaine

Turns out that I didn't need two wisdom teeth pulled. I went to the oral surgeon this morning. My mom came with me at Eddie's insistence. She'd offered and I said nope, and then he said, Ask your mom to go with you. So I asked my mom to go with me.

I filled out maybe 47 forms, give or take a few, and then it was off to get an x-ray in one of those machines that circles around your head. The assistant told me to bite down, close my lips, close my eyes, and stay still. I did that. She kept saying, Just a moment...keep a minute. Then there was a lot of typing and scanning sounds, but nothing came around my head. The dentist came by and asked what was going on. Apparently, the machine was not working. I was sitting there for ten to fifteen minutes, biting on the plastic thingamajig, and they couldn't get an x-ray. They kept apologizing, but I was like, yup, technology does that.

Instead of having me sit there, the assistant took me into the exam room and the dentist asked why I was there. I explained that I had gum pain and the other dentist said I needed my two wisdom teeth pulled. He looked at them and said, Yes, one's infected, one's decaying, and they need to come out. Then he asked, Are we doing this today? I said, Yes, yes we are. So he asked me to initial and sign maybe 36 forms, give or take a few, and then the assistant showed me the other places where I needed to initial because apparently I don't know how to fill out forms.

Finally, the x-ray machine started working, so they quickly got me into the chair and I bit down on the plastic and whirrrrrrrrr, it worked. Once they saw the x-ray in the exam room, the dentist said, You need that other wisdom tooth pulled, too...Has it given you any trouble? I said not really. He asked if I wanted to do it while I was there. I figured I should do it all at once, so he said, Okay we'll do all three.

Let me repeat: I needed three teeth pulled. All three all at once.

In prepping the instruments, all of which looked like they belong in a carpenter's belt, he asked me how old I was. My immediate answer was, How old do you think?, because that's my answer to that question all the time. I'm not used to going to medical offices, so I didn't stop and think that maybe he was asking because he needed to know my age for some medical purpose. However, I followed up with, I'm 34, and he said, Oh wow really?...I thought 26 or 27 or 28. I said, Thanks! On the inside, I was thinking, Damn you, I'm forever 22.

Anyway, the novacaine needles began. They hurt a lot, but he and the assistant kept saying that I was the best patient ever. He apologized with every new prick of the needle, and when they pulled their hands out of my mouth they both said I was an A+ patient. Either they say that to everyone to make them feel better or I can't imagine what the hell people do in that chair--scream? cry? punch? The assistant left to take care of x-rays and the dentist remained behind, checking to see how numb I was feeling. We had a quick discussion about my skeevation of the saliva vacuum, which he found puzzling and unique, and then he lightly brushed his hand across my chin to see if I could feel it and oh my oh my it was the trippiest feeling ever. He said, we're almost ready then.

And then the extraction began. Left side first, the one that was not planned. As soon as he began, he asked if I was as stubborn as my tooth. Apparently, it did not want to come out. There was a lot of drilling, a lot of water spraying into my mouth, a lot of his asking me if I was feeling pain, a lot of them both telling me I was doing well, a lot of his saying he hates hurting people, a lot of cracking sounds, and then a lot of yanking. Then more drilling because it wouldn't budge. Then, finally, out. Stitches. The weirdest sensation of thread being tied through my gums.

Right bottom. Drilling. Cracking. Drilling. Apologizing. Cracking. Yanking. Apologizing. Drilling. Cracking. Yanking. Boom. Out. Stitches.

Right top. This involved lots of cracking first. He was happy about that for some reason. Then it involved some water drilling and cracking, but it also involved basically smashing my head to the left a lot. I'm not saying he mashed it down with his gloved hand, but it sure did feel that way. Lots of yanking and smashing and shaking until yank. Out. Stitches.

He smiled, You're all done. I smiled, Yeayyyyy. He went to work smash around some other patient's head. The assistant said she was going to clean me up, and I answered, Can I see them? She responded, What's that? Because my mouth was full of gauze and the novocaine was permeating my entire lower head, so it came out like, alsdkjfl;ksdjhlkjg;lkj;lsafjk;as? I said it again slowly and made hand gestures, and she understood and seemed a little shocked that I wanted to see them. She showed me each one and told me where they'd come from. One was in parts. They looked exactly the way teeth look, root and all. She then gave me instructions and I was off. The receptionist also reminded me that I needed to eat before taking my medication. She said it twice because, as she said, they are some powerful stuff.

It was then that I was happy my mom was there because going to CVS by myself with a mouth full of gauze and a numb head would have been a bit difficult. I tried talking to her in the car, and the two of us could not stop laughing. She couldn't understand a word I was saying.

I couldn't tell if my mouth was open or closed, so I kept asking her, and when we got to CVS, she handed me a pen and paper so I could communicate. When we handed the pharmacist my scripts, she asked for DOB, and my mom? Couldn't remember it. Nice. I handed the pharmacist my license instead, and then my mom was, however, able to provide my phone number. We waited for the meds. The pharmacist came over and told us that she could fill the antibiotic but not the Percocet because every CVS was out of it. I wasn't too concerned right then. I was so numbed up that I figured it couldn't hurt that bad to need a controlled substance.

This is how much I wasn't worried:

A new fun game for everyone to try is Percocet Scavenger Hunt. It's where you go to lots of different pharmacies as the novacaine wears off, trying to get them to fill your prescription. After three pharmacies, I finally got it. It was good timing because the pain started to set in. I realized that numbness was much better than not numbness. I couldn't take the pill, though, because I hadn't eaten anything since 9 AM and it was now 1:30. The receptionist had said to eat something, so I had to eat. How was I going to eat if I couldn't feel my lips or my tongue? I wasn't. So I waited with ice packs on the sides of my face. I checked my online class and typed with one hand, holding one ice pack on one side with one hand and the other ice pack on the other side between my cheek and my shoulder. Then the novocaine started wearing off where my teeth used to be.

To say I was unprepared for the amount of pain I'd be in would be to say that the Titanic was a remote controlled toy boat that got a little water in it. Oh, the agony. I'm not one to take pills. I usually work through any pain by breathing and focusing on something else. The kind of pain that started to emerge in my mouth made me want to down the entire bottle of Percocet along with any other pill I could possibly find.

I ate first. I could barely open my mouth and it was still partially numb, so I shoveled itty bitty bits of cottage cheese in. When that was finished, I tried an avocado. It wasn't soft enough to simply swallow, so I tried chewing with my front teeth. What I found was this: moving your mouth after surgery causes even greater pain. To counteract the pain, I put my ice packs to my cheeks and marched around the house in circles like a crazy person, hoping that this would somehow make the pain go away. It did not. My mom the Super Mom arrived home from the supermarket with food that does not need to be chewed. I had some apple sauce. I had some Jell-o. I took the Percocet. I had some more apple sauce. I then told her I was going to mash some bananas I had upstairs. She smiled and said, you don't have to, and she handed me a small jar of baby food. It was bananas. Is my mom the best or what? I ate the jar of baby food.

As of right now, I have no throbbing pain. It hurts to move my mouth, so I'm not moving it. I have stopped icing my cheeks because the cold of the ice hurts. I am also tripping on the Percocet. Everything seems fuzzy. The bottle says not to drink alcohol while taking the pills. I don't know why anyone would considering I feel drunk already. Even my ears feel tingly. If I have to choose between pain and this, I'll take this, but if I have to choose between this and sobriety and being able to eat solid food and open my mouth more than a centimeter, screw the pills and give me my avocado.

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