Wisdom Teeth, the Follow-up

That did not go how I expected at all. In some ways it was much better than I expected and in some ways much worse. On the one hand, the operation itself was much longer and harder then even Dr. McDonald thought it would be and it has taken me two weeks to recover almost all of my energy. But on the other hand, there was very little swelling and the actual pain dissipated after about 5 days, leaving a persistent ache that ibuprofen easily handles. In any case, I’d say my experience was better than most of the stories I have heard, and I have heard a lot of stories.

Before I go any further, I have to say that I have a new found respect for nitrous oxide. I tried it once before, you know, recreationally, and was not very impressed. But in the hands of professionals, oh yeah. There’s a party in that mixtures of gasses.

After having my wisdom teeth out at 57, I have one thing to say: I wish I had done it at 18, or 16, or 20 or even 30. At 57 the bone is much harder, and my teeth had grown in horizontally down in the bone at root level and were very hard to extract. It was, apparently, a very difficult time for the dental team. In fact, during the extraction of the first tooth, the team woke me up enough to walk me out to the x-ray room, to take a picture of my jaw to make sure they got all of the tooth out. From that point on I was in and out for quite a while, which I am grateful for. I don’t want to forget everything, which is what the anesthetic was designed to make me do. So I have glimpses of the operation (which is not a gentle affair, believe me).

I won’t go into details, except to say that at one time I felt some fingers on my head and face, a gentle hand holding me still so the doctor could wreak havoc in my jawbone, cutting and digging and jamming those square rubber things into my mouth to hold it open, and that human contact, that human connection, was both comforting and reassuring, something I am grateful for even now.

When I woke up afterwards, they walked me out to the recovery room, where Chris, one of my many guardian angels, met me, and one of the staff gave us the rundown for the immediate future. Chris drove me home, by way of CVS where we picked up some very effective narcotics (Norco, very nice, and Tramadol, also very nice).

This was on a Friday. So I spent the rest of that day and the next few days in a narco-induced lethargy, watching bad movies and talking with friends, in person and on the phone, and eating soft food. A LOT of apple sauce and yogurt and chicken broth. And my cousin Teri, to whom I am VERY grateful, was my connection to experience and guidance in the post-extraction process. Teri, I definitely owe you.

Then on Tuesday evening, over the course of about an hour, my pain dissipated, sifted away from my jaw and my mind. It was like someone put a little solvent on my jaw and melted the pain away. Wasn’t how that was possible or if the pain would return, so I took my last, precautionary Norco that night before bed and it has been ibuprofen since.

That was a little over a week and a half ago and two things have happened that I did not account for. First, for about three or four days I have the worst taste in my mouth, coming form the empty sockets and folder of flesh left form the operation. Every now and them my saliva tasted like the smell of a dead, rotting mouse. And, yes, I know what a dead, rotting mouse smells like. It was so bad that even my dog, Lucy, was repulsed by my breath. Now that is saying something.

The other thing I did not account for is a near complete lack of energy. I would go for a short walk, work for an hour, step out to get the mail, and I would have to lie down and rest. This has been diminishing but is still occurring to a lesser degree. And this has been more aggravating than any other aspect of the process. Like anyone else, I have stuff to do.


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