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Wednesday, July 22, 2015


I am sorry to tell you that the title of this post is perhaps a bit misleading. I don't have buckets of wisdom within me to dole out to others. I am just a regular person who sometimes feels compelled to write about random things in life. There you go, it's out in the open now. Whew!

A friend of a friend shared a photo on a social network showing herself with a couple of ice packs held to her face, sitting with her boyfriend. She had just had her wisdom teeth removed, and was touched that he was helping take care of her. I thought that it was very sweet, but I wasn't surprised that he is being so wonderful since we are acquainted with the boyfriend. That's nice, Katrina, you're probably thinking, but not much of a blog post. Come on, did you really think that was all that I had to say?

As I left the computer behind and began to prepare dinner, it occurred to me that there's another way in which I seem to be different from just about everyone I know. All of the people that I know who have had their wisdom teeth removed have had it done by an oral surgeon. The surgeon dopes them up and pulls all of their wisdom teeth in one visit. The last sentence originally said all four, but I know that there are many variations involved. Some lucky people don't have all of the teeth develop, so there are fewer teeth to remove. 

Speaking of which, what's the reason for calling them wisdom teeth anyway? If they gave us wisdom, I'd be railing against any dentist who suggested that I have them removed from my mouth. I really don't think that their appearance in the mouth is a sign of us having any wisdom either. I've known or heard of many people who were fairly young and had not accumulated a great deal of wisdom by the time these teeth had to be removed. And the teeth themselves certainly aren't wise, or they wouldn't cause such pain and crowding in the mouth that they needed dental intervention that resulted in their removal.

Once again, I've digressed. Sorry. I am the only person that I know that did not have her wisdom teeth removed by an oral surgeon. You see, I had a really great dentist. I had spent years being phobic about going to dentists and ended up with a tooth needing major treatment. A trusted friend gave me the name of her dentist, Dr. Legg, who was wonderful. In fact, the word wonderful is not enough to do him justice. When you get home from work to find that your dentist called to make sure that you were okay, you know you've got one heck of a dentist. By the way, you read that correctly. I began root canal treatment on my lunch hour and went back to work the rest of the afternoon.

When my wisdom teeth started to threaten the well-being of my other teeth, Dr. Legg said that he could refer me to an oral surgeon. I wasn't interested in dealing with an entirely new dentist, so I asked him to remove the teeth for me. Since he couldn't give me general anesthesia, we would have to do one side of the mouth at a time. I trusted him and was ready to take action.

I arranged for a friend to take me to get my right side wisdom teeth removed. After the extraction, she took me to get my painkillers and some yogurt at the supermarket. I was set. But the aftermath was nothing like what I had experienced with any previous dental work. I spent two or three days sick as the proverbial dog. Seriously, I would get up, eat a little something, take a pain pill, try to sleep, toss my cookies, sleep, and repeat. It was awful.

When I went back to see Dr. Legg he was terribly upset that I hadn't called him. He let me know that it was probably the pain medication that made me so sick. I have since discovered that this is definitely the case for me. If I ever swallow poison, all I need to do is take some codeine derivative and poof! the poison will definitely leave my stomach.

I was nervous to have the second set of teeth removed. I can handle pain, but the thought of upchucking for days is more than I can bear. Finally, after much pain and inflammation in my mouth, I scheduled an appointment to have the teeth removed. I went in on a Friday so that I could be sick all weekend, and I think I even scheduled a day or two off of work. I arranged for a friend from work to come to the dentist's office midway through the appointment so that I would have a ride home. Everything was in order. That's when the fun began.

To me, one of the most disturbing things about any serious dental work is the injection(s). The dentist comes at your mouth with a needle that looks like it's about a foot long, and as big around as a pencil. Seeing that makes me want to start running away as fast as I can. We got in the habit of me taking off my glasses (making it difficult to see the needle) and also having the happy gas on until after the injection. The mask actually blocked most of the view of the needle, so it was a welcome thing.

Between the time that I had the first extractions and the second, I had switched to contact lenses. When Dr. Legg came at me with the needle of terror, the gas mask blocked most of the view, and I closed my eyes for the rest. After the drugs had begun to work their magic, the extraction began. One of the teeth came out very easily, but the other was coming in at a bad angle. I mean bad enough that part of the tooth had to be drilled off in order to pull it without damaging surrounding teeth. 

While the drilling was underway, I realized that I could see everything the dentist was doing because of my contact lenses. No big deal, just close your eyes, right? Mm, not really. Because of the extent of the work needed, I was numb almost all the way to my hairline, and I wasn't able to shut my eye. This struck me as hysterically funny. The friend who was waiting to drive me home could hear my laughter in the waiting room even though the drill was running. Dr. Legg asked me what was so funny. "I wanted to close my eye so I can't see, but I'm too numb to close my eye," I managed to gasp out during my fits of laughter. I know. Weird. My dentist and my friend thought so too.

Without the evil painkiller in my body, I felt great when I got home. Gram had made pork chops and mashed potatoes for dinner, and I ate heartily of little tiny bites of both. When Dr. Legg called to check on me, I was thrilled to tell him that I had been feeling great and had been able to eat. Later that same evening, I popped some corn and ate that as well, being careful to avoid getting any of it on the left side of my mouth. When I told him about that on my follow-up visit, the color drained from his face. It isn't terribly often that the patient makes the dentist's face go white. It was lots of fun! In spite of his worry, there wasn't the slightest sign of a problem.

When I hear about someone getting four teeth removed at once, it makes me shudder. In spite of the challenges I had with the first set, I'm glad that I had them removed over two visits. I can't imagine it's easy to deal with that pain and swelling everywhere. And when you have extractions on both sides, you sure can't eat any popcorn!

Note from The Lunatic: I apologize if this post made you feel squirmy! Forgive me, please, I'll try to be better next time!