The Dentist: Part 2

I was going to take the rest of the day off from writing after my dental surgery. I planned to sleep the whole way home in the car, not get home until dark, and then just sleep until tomorrow afternoon. As it turned out, I was home before my cats expected their dinner at 5, and I feel alert. I was trying to read and I kept composing how the appointment went, so I came in from the last rays of sunshine on my balcony and sat at the computer to get it down before the words go away.

The lower half of my face does not feel like it belongs to me. My fingers can feel my chin, but my chin is completely oblivious. I use my tongue to rest the opening of the water bottle, as my lower lip is not aware of anything touching it either. Putting on chap stick was a bizarre experience, like putting it on someone else’s mouth, not sure if you are applying enough pressure, if it is going on in the right place.

The morning of the appointment, the lack of eating did not bother me as much as not being able to drink water. At 5am as I lie awake with insomnia, I almost decided to take a small sip of water, but I was too scared if I disobeyed the rules I would wet myself while I was under. I fell back asleep to dream about wading in the ocean in the darkness of night, strolling down the beach, feet sinking into the soft sand, coming to a waterfall and letting it splash over my head and down my face.

We left a little early to allow for construction delays on the Crowsnest Highway, and I wanted to stop in at Chapters since my city doesn’t have one. Not that I can afford to buy books after this pricey procedure anyway, but it’s close to the dentist and I thought I could squeeze it in, unlike visiting friends, restaurants, and places in the river valley that I miss. I need to take another road trip out to visit properly. So when we were about halfway, they called to ask if I could come in early. I don’t know if they realized we were coming from another city, but as chance would have it, I got there for the earlier time.

By this point when I usually go to the dentist, I’m fighting hard to keep it together. My breathing and heart rate increase, sometimes my eyes water, or I tremble. I have to regulate my breathing to calm down, and I can’t look at a magazine or my phone because I’m too anxious to make out words or focus. Sounds usually start making the anxiety worse, I brought ear plugs and my noise cancelling headphones but didn’t need either. This is probably the most serious procedure I’ve had to do, and I was calm. I think it was because both my mom and my little sister were with me. I did not experience any physical fight or flight symptoms, and I was really surprised. I was brought to the first room where I didn’t have a problem with them inserting the IV needle into my left arm. The nurse explained everything I’d already read on Google. I was not panicking at all, my mom asked the nurse if they were giving me a sedative through the IV. They weren’t. They said I couldn’t have the wisdom teeth when it was done. My mom was relieved.

The second room I was escorted to without my family. I said hello to the team of three women and one man, and lied down on the green bed, scooting down to the very cushiony pillow area for my head, looking up at the alien-spaceship lights that were surrounding my head. They put a mask in front of my face and said it was oxygen, the air had a stale plastic taste, and felt like I had to really gasp in my breaths. They told me I’d feel sleepy. At one point I asked a nurse if I was supposed to breathe out into the mask too, or just breathe in, but she was like what? And I was all, nevermind. The last thing I remember is saying “thanks guys…”, but it sounded really far away.

I woke up what felt like minutes later, they were telling me I did really well, everything went fine. What did I do well? I guess I was really good at being zonked out with my mouth wide open. I guess that’s what they say when you don’t need to use the change of clothes they ask you to bring, or when you wake up and you weren’t in a coma for several days. So it all went well, and just like almost everything I lose sleep worrying about, it was no big deal. I had my first sips of water since midnight, and watched the monitor that was hooked up to my pointer finger. My pulse was high, almost 100, but the nurse with me said it was normal. I tried to slow down my breathing anyway, because then she could let me get out of this room with the privacy curtains hanging on tracks on the ceiling, a large rectangular digital clock with red numbers I could see without glasses, a desk in the corner with the computer positioned so you can see the room and not the wall. She takes out the IV and the tape hurts peeling off. I joke that that was probably the most painful part of the operation. I bet she’s heard that before. I can’t tell if she thinks I’m being friendly or annoying.

I felt slightly woozy heading through the parking lot, and my mom and sister held me up on either side in case I lose my balance, this is probably what the elderly feel like leaving the hospital, all frail and vulnerable and people concerned for you. I had a sore throat and a light headache, I felt a little drunk, but not as hazy as I expected. I inspected my puffy cheeks and gauze hanging out of my mouth in the reflection of the car window. Time for a selfie and post on Facebook that everything went well. My mom doesn’t think it’s a very flattering photo. My sister Liked it. The ride back I took my pain medications and lied down in the backseat, but didn’t sleep. Didn’t say anything like you see in those Youtube videos.

It’s the next day and I’m not swollen or in pain like I was expecting. It didn’t hurt to sleep, I didn’t get blood on my pillow. I can’t open my mouth very far, but I can see back to one gory socket, a gaping bloody hole where my tooth used to be. The other side I can’t really see, as it was the one growing outward to my cheek, and they sutured the hole to the inside of the cheek and I don’t want to poke around in there.

Thanks to my anxiety, I was absolutely prepared for the worst and had run through all the scenarios of what could go wrong. I’m pleasantly surprised that I didn’t expect to be feeling so well, and even more shocked I didn’t have an anxiety attack on the way there or during the appointment. So grateful for my supportive family and friends. Bring on the soft foods!

 

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