15 April 2007

Surviving Oral Surgery for Dummies

I promised I would tell all about my wisdom teeth extraction, at least for the purpose of scaring Carlo, who's getting his out soon and apparently has a weird jaw that will make things difficult (sorry bud, that's gonna hurt). I needed 3 teeth out: two bottom and one top. The other top tooth had never formed fully, so it could be ignored.

My surgery was scheduled for 8:00am two Fridays ago. Apparently this is a typical time for wisdom teeth removal because it gives people the whole weekend to recover, hence I would only need to take one day off work. Too bad, I wanted a vacation. 8:00 is preferable because I was told not to eat or drink anything for 8 or 12 hours before the surgery - they gave me a handout that said 8, but the oral surgeon said 12 - so being able to just sleep instead of going hungry was a great thing. As for the 8 vs 12 hours, I decided on a comprimise: I would stop eating 12 hours before but I would drink until 8 hours before. I don't know if that was the best idea but I suffered no ill effects. Anyway, Thursday night we went to East Side Mario's and ate entirely too much, so I'm sure there was still food in my stomach the next morning anyway.

Friday morning my wife and I miraculously managed to get there on time (miraculous because we're usually late for everything). We noticed that all the hygenists and assistants were young women who wore those funny 'Crocs' rubber shoes. My wife hypothesized that the dentist hired them all for fornication purposes. I had no comment except that their shoes looked funny.

They noticed I was sneezing and I had to convince them that I always sneeze in the morning and that I didn't have a head cold. They take the "no surgery if you're sick" thing very seriously. I had to postpone my surgery already this year because of the bronchitis I picked up over Christmas.

About 20 minutes late, the assistants finally brought me in to prep me. Quickly they attached three heart monitors to my chest and clamped an O2 sensor on my finger. I felt like I was in an episode of ER with all the monitors and the beeping and stuff. That is not reassuring. Then they placed the nitrous oxide mask over my nose, which they had to swap because of my apparently gigantic proboscis. Ego bruising aside, they told me to breathe deeply and that I should feel tingling in my lower extremities and feel lightheaded. I felt not one damn thing, so they jacked up the gas. Then I could really feel it. While conversing with them and trying to keep my demeanor light and stress-free, I realized that I was starting to giggle at my own jokes. I never do that (the gas is good stuff). I told them if they wanted me to stay serious, they needed to turn down the gas a bit. She finished by sticking an IV in my hand. She wasn't good at it.

Finally, the oral surgeon showed up. After giving everything a once over, he said he was going to start the sedation and that it should take effect within 20 seconds. 15 seconds later I was out.

I awoke groggily in what I later learned was the recovery room. My wife was there and I learned that I had sort of woke up a couple of times already, allegedly claiming that I was alright and ready to leave now. I did not remember saying such things, but I'll take her word on it; I was pretty groggy. I asked her what time it was, she said, "9:20." I said, "Oh. [pause] What was that?" "9:20." "Ok. [pause] Sorry, what time did you say?" "9:20." "Hmmm. I know I just asked and you told me what time it is, but I can't remember. What time is it again?" "9:20." "[pause] I'm not getting it at all. Can you just show me your watch?" Wife shows me watch. "Oohh. 9:20. Got it."

They were very nice and gave me a juice and some instructions for tooth care. Drinking the juice was a challenge because my bottom lip was still frozen from the anesthetic, so basically I had to push my lower lip down and properly position everything by feel before I took a sip. Regardless, I still had a drinking problem apparent on my shirt.

After coming-to, I was still pretty druggy, kind like being drunk in that my talking inhibitions were low. I asked one of the assistants why they were all wearing those Crocs (Which I think are tacky, btw. As an aside, I was in Kingston last summer and saw Kirk Muller walking down the street wearing a bright orange pair of them.) Turned out it was a peer pressure thing and she didn't really like wearing them.

I did in fact manage to get back on my feet pretty quickly, and we drove off to get a big container of Tylenol 3 and antibiotics, both of which I've had to take religiously ever since (well, for a week, anyway).

We got back to our apartment and I realized I was very hungry. My wife offered to get me some broth to eat, since I likely wasn't ready for anything solid yet, but instead of quickly making it for me, she instead grabbed the digital camera and started filming me all drugged up and drooling. I started snapping at her to stop it, and she started antagonizing me more, filming me as a flailed at her hazily in vain. She later passed this video on to many of her friends and sisters to embarass me.

After what seemed like an eternity of torture, she finally stopped filming and brought me the soup. Halfway through, and I'm not sure if it was from the anesthetic wearing off or some reaction between the drugs I just took and the broth, I suddenly got very sick feeling and had to go regurgitate out all the broth I just ate. That was fun.

It was soon after that I started noticing the throbbing, aching pain where my teeth used to be. As the drugs wore off more and more, I could feel the pain growing and spreading into the surrounding jaw and even into my front teeth. This is where the Tylenol 3s come in handy. I was to figure out that I do pretty well with T3s, whereas some people I know get very groggy and unpleasant feeling. I was slightly muddy in the head over the weekend, but since I was just sitting on the couch the whole time, it didn't really bother me.

The worst day for pain and swelling is apparently the 3rd day. For me, that was Sunday, and I did notice that it hurt more. However, I was really fortunate in that my face didn't swell up in any significant way. Other than looking miserable, no one could tell that something was amiss.

My diet over the weekend consisted of: pea soup, ice cream, jello, and pudding on Friday; beef and barley soup, mashed potatoes, creamed corn, ice cream, bananas, jello, and pudding on Saturday; and finally peas, more mashed potatoes, ice cream, bananas, pudding, and jello on Sunday. Actually, that's not quite true: on Saturday, I snapped from lack of crunchy food and broke into a bag of all-dressed Ruffles. To my surprise, with care, I could actually eat them ok. Without care, I jabbed a sharp shard of chip right down the gaping hole where my tooth was. I wouldn't recommend doing that, either.

You know the bad thing about eating a lot of ice cream, pudding, etc? You don't feel full ever, so you just keep eating. I actually found that, despite not being able to eat solid food, I actually gained weight the week after the surgery. (Carlo: I just noticed on your blog that you're lactose intolerant. You probably won't gain weight then, but you might starve to death).

During the whole weekend, I had to ice my jaw. 15 minutes on, 15 minutes off. This was especially critical after eating, as my gums would get painful and inflammed. This was nice, as it helped ease the pain a bit. I actually had two ice packs which I rotated; however, on Saturday, my wife left for a badminton tournament and took one of my ice packs with her, leaving me with a lukewarm bag of mush most of the time. Hence, I ate more ice cream to make up for it. Later, my dad (retired dentist) told me that once it no longer hurts too much, you have to start heating your jaw instead of freezing it. This is supposed to increase bloodflow and speed healing. I started doing that on Monday.

Speaking of Monday, that was my first day back at work. Man, is it hard to concentrate on work when you're taking T3s every 4 hours. I wasn't productive at all. I mentioned how crappy it was here. I actually did drive home from work once after taking a T3 and it was not good. Don't do that.

However, by then I could eat solid food. By Wednesday, I was done my antibiotics and had switched to regular Tylenol instead of T3s. By Friday, I was fine, just in time to eat for Yeaster (adopting Carlo's term for it).

Tuesday I had my follow-up appointment with the oral surgeon. He said everything was proceeding as it should. He also gave me this handy syringe for spraying water to get food out of the big gaping holes in the back of my mouth. First time I used it, a big chunk o' stuff came out. Nice. I've also accidentally squirted myself in the chest and groin, as well as spraying water all over the bathroom randomly. The syringe is pretty sensitive; the slightest pressure shoots water out like a needle-fine super soaker. Surprisingly, I have been good and haven't sprayed my wife with it yet. I emphasize: yet.

So that's it. It feels a little bit weird missing those back teeth but it means flossing doesn't take so long anymore. The surgery and aftermath weren't pleasant but all went as well as could be expected and, thanks to ice cream and Tylenol 3, it wasn't unbearable.

Speaking of Tylenol 3, I still have two tablets left over. Any suggestions?

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At April 15, 2007 3:56 p.m., Blogger Stew said...

Cool post. I love gory posts. I love the general insanity you have when you come out of general anaesthetic. And I think nurses in crocs are sexy. I would love to have my wife play nurse and end up wearing nothing except the crocs. grrrr!

One more bit of ammo against the intelligent design folk - why did god make our jaws too small for all our teeth? I suppose they'll blame that one on Adam ie: before the fall man was perfect. Did Adam therefore have a working appendix?

ps can we look forward to seeing this video you wife took on YouTube sometime?

At April 15, 2007 4:27 p.m., Anonymous Sarge said...

My dentist has a neat little ditty on the wall of his waiting room:
"Oh, healthy teeth is nice to have,
"They fills you with content,
"And if you doesn't know it now,
"You will when they have went!"

I like the hygenists. I knew my boys were becoming men because of them. There had been a point where they equated oral hygene with an informal greeting to Gene across the street, and it was a fight to get them to do more that lay in the yard with their mouths open waiting for birds to clean them like crocodiles do. Then, all of a sudden they started reminding me of appointments for cleaning, delivering lectures on the importance of dental health. Then I heard them discussing a looming visit between themselves, one hoping to get the rather pneumatic redhead who propped their heads on her boobs. Childhood was over. Sigh.

Stew, I can't figure ID people out. If he was anything like me, Methusalah must have had a prostate the size of beach ball by the time he hit his first century. I hate to think about his 'roids.

At April 15, 2007 7:20 p.m., Blogger Carlo said...

Oh dear Crick... And I was already nervous enough to begin with! I imagine that I won't have the luxury of the Nitrous Oxide mask (I'm guessing that the blood tests I've had to get done have to do with whatever the hell they're injecting me with). I did experience the mask when I got my tonsils removed years ago... craziest dreams I've ever had.

Speaking of Tylenol 3, I still have two tablets left over. Any suggestions?

Speaking of crazy-ass dreams. When I lived in Vancouver, I once had a really bad throat infection. I went to the hospital and the doctor told me he couldn't figure out what it was (assumed it was viral), but it didn't look bad. He said he'd give me some drugs then reached into a large bag and gave me a couple handfuls of Tylenol 3s.

The throat infection went away in a day and I was left with a small candy-dish full of sweet-sweet Codeine. Anyways, one night, I was having a headache or something and I took one before bed. I had the most intense ninja-based dream ever (my best dreams always involve ninja ridiculitude)! Yeah, I put those Tylenols to good use involving many, many ludicrous katana fights (among other weird, weird dreams).

Back to the jaw-thing. My surgery's on a Thursday, so I'll have the whole weekend to, as you say, starve. I'll probably make lactose-free pudding. And there's also readily-available 'Rice Cream' (not as bad as it sounds).

The orthodontist literally told me that I have the jaw-opening width of a normal 15 year-old, which he told me means that I'm slightly deformed. Strangely, no one has ever commented on my jaw looking odd (the width of my jaw-opening ability has, strangely, never, ever come up...).

He said however that this was screwin' up all 4 of my teeth. He told me I had at least 5 years before they had to come out, but my parent's insurance somehow continues to cover me while I'm in school. My dad just retired so the policy is going to end in June... Thus, they've gotta go now.

Well, my gf had hers out when she was 15, so I had some idea of what to expect, but thanks for the detail, at least I'll know to buy ice packs and Jello...

At April 15, 2007 8:55 p.m., Blogger PZ Myers said...

Hah. That's nothing.

My extraction was done with only a local. One tooth would not come out, so the dentist actually got this long-handled chisel and a hammer, got on his knees on the arms of the dental chair, and WHAM! Shattered the tooth with one sharp blow. Then he spent a half hour plucking out the shards.

Most of them, anyway. For about 6 months, I had these tiny splinters of bone and tooth working their way through my gums.

At April 16, 2007 3:51 p.m., Blogger TheBrummell said...

Carlo said: Strangely, no one has ever commented on my jaw looking odd...

That's because it doesn't look odd embedded in your generally odd-shaped head. When you get that fixed, your either your jaw will look odd, or the rest of your face will. Think "recent Michael Jackson", but without the pigmentation issues. >:P

Also, those Croc things look terrible. I have extremely small, but apparently non-zero, fashion sense, but about the only things I recognize as clothing that is distinctly fugly are crocs.

At April 17, 2007 1:02 p.m., Blogger King Aardvark said...

Stew, that's way too much information there.

I don't think I'll be posting any videos of me drooling and rambling groggily anytime soon. I still have some shards of my dignity. Not many, but some. I'll have to watch it again to see how bad it was though; I watched it once and it was pretty bad, but I might feel less bad about it now that the initial shock has worn off.

Sarge - my dad's a dentist and it's only been a few years for me to really take oral hygiene as seriously as I should. I've got really thick strong teeth that are quite resistant to any form of attack, so I could get away with it. But Re: your kids, at least it's educational.

Carlo- I never got any crazy dreams; I just felt groggy and lightheaded. No fun dreams at all, either from Tylenol 3 or nitrous oxide. So that sucked. I haven't even had a ninja-based dream in years. Glad you at least have some food you can eat and enjoy. I'm still in the ice-cream mode, and I have to work hard now to stop myself from eating 3 bowls a day.

PZ - thanks for dropping by! I fully admit that my surgery was not bad by any stretch. In fact, it's the easiest wisdom teeth extraction that I've ever heard of. My dad's told me of cases like yours, though they tend to saw the teeth in half/thirds rather than smash them now. I'm happy I didn't just get local. Sleep is good.

Brummell - I hear crocs are comfy, but I wouldn't be caught dead wearing them. And I think the old-fashioned baby blue frilly tux from the Moore's tux rental commercial looks good.

At January 08, 2012 3:23 p.m., Anonymous Black Tuxedos said...

I remember when I went to the dentist yesterday. I got my teeth cleaned and she says always use pointed toothbrush. Whew She has the whitest teeth ever!:D

At January 09, 2012 6:23 a.m., Anonymous chiropractic coeur d'alene said...

OMG! I got a wisdom tooth. It really pains a lot and I need to go to the dentist this days so I can let the dentist what decide what to do about it. :D

At February 06, 2012 12:41 p.m., Anonymous Wisdom Teeth Utah said...

I randomly found your post while searching for accounts of people getting their wisdom teeth out. Your sage advice is appreciated and the details were... impressive.


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