Wednesday, November 02, 2005

under the knife

I thought it would be like getting a tooth filled- no big deal, but now, looking back, I guess that the existence of a pre-operative visit should have tipped me off. And perhaps the 3 prescriptions, for antibiotic, painkiller, and toxic rinse were clues also, not to mention the necessity for 3 follow-up visits.

But I charged fearlessly into the oral surgeon's office yesterday morning, having no idea what I was headed for. The doctor had assertained during my pre-op visit that I had created a "situation" by zealously grinding my teeth. I had slightly dislodged a tooth to the point where I was able to unconsciously use it to dig a pocket in my gums. This is not good- such a pocket can collect bacteria, become infected, and result in all sorts of health problems from tooth loss to heart attacks. So I thought going ahead with the surgery was a no-brainer.

Now I've had novocaine before, but this was ridiculous. The doctor warned me, then inserted the needle, then LEFT IT IN interminably, then STUCK IT IN AGAIN! And AGAIN! And AGAIN! But the real coup de grace was when he stuck it deeply into the ROOF of my mouth! When I was sure the worst was over, he inserted it into my CHEEK!

Right away I realized I couldn't talk, and felt desperate to communicte that fact. All I could do was grunt, moan, flail and point, after figuring how to bring my hand out of the plastic tent I was enclosed in. The oral surgeon glanced at me, eyebrows raised, and said, "Yes, all that novocaine is very disorienting to some people. I think we're going to have to give you a few minutes to get used to it." With that he raised my chair, set me upright, and he and the assistant left.

Perhaps I should have researched this doctor, and the particular procedure he planned to perform on me. This was not the right time to be thinking these thoughts. I became nervous.

They returned, hopefully better able to deal with the likes of me. His goal was to somehow remove part of my gums. I couldn't imagine how he would do that, and now that it's over, I still don't know how he did it. I heard incredible noises- very loud drilling (I needed earplugs), and worse, a very disturbing scraping sound. It sounded as if he was breaking something in my mouth, like a tooth or bone. He worked fast, which I found alarming. Early on I became aware that my heart was racing. The painkiller I had taken before surgury came with a list of dire side effects- fatal heart attack or stroke, bleeding stomach ulcers, heart arrhythmia, convulsions, projectile vomiting, seizures, fainting, and on and on. I worried that if the surgery didn't finish me off, the painkiller would.

He performed surgery for a full half hour (and he was working fast, mind you). Then it took forever for him to apply the sutures. When I finally eased my tortured body out of the surgical chair I glanced around, taking in the sight of splattered blood everywhere. It looked like a murder scene.

Daunted by the list of side effects, I refuse to take the painkiller. The only problem is that I can't smile. Perhaps the novocaine needle permanently damaged one or more of the many tiny facial muscles necessary for expression. Time will tell. Meanwhile, I have an excuse to be grouchy.


Ananke said...

Ah, the joys (note the sarcasm) of oral surgery. I remember it well. I once had to have two teeth removed at one time and I remember the same cracking sounds you described. Turns out my teeth didn't have deep roots, but they were incredibly strong. The dentist had to remove them a piece at a time. Yuck! I didn't want to take my painkillers either but once that novacaine wore off, I couldn't take it fast enough! Needless to say, I take much better care of my teeth these days. Glad to hear you came through it OK. :-D

Orikinla Osinachi. said...

That was an awful experience for you.

Oh, God!
I could even feel the agony of your pains during the traumatic surgery.

I know what you feel. But, I will not relate the experience here. It was horrible.

Please, take care.

garnet david said...

Betty- somehow you make me laugh, even when you're in agony! Sorry, tee hee hee. (I picture your face flapping, uttering grunts and incoherent syllables, while your hand flails frantically)

I had surgery to remove my impacted wisdom teeth. I got it for free if I submitted to an experiment for painkillers. Of course I got the placebo, so I was in agony. Then I took the backup, which was vicodin. I'd never had it before, and I took it on and empty stomach. It gave me the most piercing stomach ache I've ever had. I screamed in my room alone, where no one could hear me. Finally they kicked in, my pain, all of it, subsided, and I passed out.