Thursday, September 8, 2011

Chipmunks and pudding

"You're scared because you're not from Yorkshire!"

No, I'm pretty sure it's because I've been physically strapped to a chair and now an IV drip is being fitted to my free hand. It was like the final scene in a death row movie where they administer the lethal injection.

But but but I only stole my Mum's sausage rolls once when I was 7 and I promise never everevertodoitagain!!

There were multiple reasons why I was about to make the heart monitor they'd attached to my chest leap off the scale:

Firstly, there was really very little to enjoy in the prospect of being heavily sedated so your impacted back teeth could be cut out of your mouth. It was like the problem with the potentially painful typhoid vaccination: how do you prepare to be ill? People's accounts regarding their wisdom teeth varied from mild discomfort to rolling around in agony on the sofa for weeks and there was no way of knowing which way this cookie was going to crumble.  

Secondly, I'd arrived (as per my orders) with a friend who also happened to be a respiratory therapist (never hurts to have a back-up plan). This was not the problem. The problem was that she had brought along her five year old daughter. This little poppet showed me she had lost two teeth of her own recently but assured me they would grow back.

... whatever I might know logically about the situation with baby versus wisdom teeth, it was still like being told I'd have to repeat all this next year.

I was sent out by a rather brisk receptionist to use the restroom; not a particularly easy task since I hadn't been allowed to drink anything since midnight the night before. When I returned, I found mother and daughter reading together. I hoped this would be a nice calming story about fluffy bunny rabbits I could listen in on. But no. Out of ALL THE MATERIAL in the waiting room, this demonic child had selected a leaflet on wisdom teeth to read. By the time I joined them, they had reached the page on 'possible complications after surgery'. With pictures.

My friend took one look at my face. "You know, let's read this page after El's gone in," she suggested to her little girl, who shortly afterwards demanded to know if she could watch the procedure.

Finally, the dental nurse had come out to give my friend some instructions regarding my aftercare. Her voice was a low, calming pitch which DID NOT HELP AT ALL. It sounded like the kind of voice you might use when discussing something very very serious and terrible. What I really needed was for someone to clonk me over the head with that rolled up leaflet on wisdom teeth and tell me to get in there because it'd be over in about forty minutes. Instead, she talked about pain and swelling and passed over a prescription. I whimpered.

"I'll give you two some time alone," she said as she went back behind the door.


"That is not the voice you use when you're telling someone that you have to switch off a ventilator machine," my RT friend told me firmly. "Trust me. Now go in."

There we go.

I inched through the door and crept towards a room full of IV bags. One positive thing the wisdom teeth leaflet had shown was examples of the different problems that occurred with these late arrivals. Two of the pictures matched my own issues; one tooth on its side and decayed and the other stuck under the jaw bone. They really did have to be removed.

Two nurses helped me to get set up and they were super nice. They assured me that everyone was nervous and told me at frequent intervals that I was doing really well. Given the reading on the heart monitor, I think the standard for this comment was that I hadn't yet bolted from the room. There was a blood pressure cuff on my right arm which is why that wrist was attached to the chair (very gently, I could have pulled it free). Then the dentist came in to fit the IV drip to my left hand, after complaining I wasn't a Yorkshireman. He then started slapping my hand really hard.

"Owch!" I complained indignantly.

"It's your fault," he told me. "You've gone and made yourself all nervous and now your big veins are hiding."

I was still in the chair. I think he should be grateful for what he had.

Despite the fact this did make me laugh, I started to feel sick and dizzy. I attempted to call one of the nurses 'Mum' but it didn't really help. I was assured this was just nerves and indeed, a few minutes later everything eased. I suspect some cheating was going on here and an anti-nausea agent was added to my drip. Either way, I started to feel a hell of a lot better and relaxed. An oxygen mask was fitted over my nose which ten minutes before would have made me think:


but now I thought:

Bet that looks funny.

.... Then I was being guided into the recovery room and looking up at a five year old peering curiously at me and mercifully not reading a leaflet on wisdom teeth.

My mouth was entirely numb and there was a couple of rolls of gauze tucked in the back but I felt fine. It would turn out the local aesthetic was quite powerful since it didn't wear off until the early evening. The current side affect was that I couldn't talk.

"We can leave when you're ready," my friend told me brightly.

I sat up. "Mumble wumble dumble!"

"OK, we can leave when the nurse says you're ready," came the slight amendment. 

Damn small print. Still, it was only a few more minutes and I was finally free to flee the dental surgery ... the sort of fleeing that requires you to be propped up by one adult and one child.

I was tag teamed over to a second friend (this one a minister who could potentially forgive me for the sausage roll incident and send me in the right direction if all my original suspicions had proved to be founded. Never let be said I did not think this through) since the sedative meant I had to be supervised for the next 24 hours. The only real challenge was that I had to drink two glasses of water without being able to feel my mouth. In the end, I used my hand to pull my lower lip over the glass' rim and tipped. I also had a few tablets to swallow. I put one on my tongue and tried to swallow except...

"Did you loose it?" my friend asked with a grin.

It was somewhere in my mouth but where .... I felt it reach my throat. Gotcha!

We watched a movie and some lie was spun to me about it being several hours long. I was there and it was 10 minutes, tops. As was the second one. But by the time the evening rolled around I was de-numbed and feeling right as rain. I really wanted a cheeseburger but was offered an apple puree pudding instead. It's possible the next few days will still see me looking like a chipmunk but I'll take that look and make it awesome.

Then future cheeseburgers; they will be mine.

(Plus my friends are awesome. They can share the cheeseburgers.)


  1. You are maybe the only person in the world who can make wisdom tooth extraction entertaining. Hope all continues to go well. The chipmunk look is quite fun.

  2. I'm surprisingly un-chipmunk like so far! A bit stiff and tired and ... I possibly shouldn't have gone into work yesterday but! I feel good :)