Here is the tale of my now-departed lower left wisdom tooth, a tale that will probably bore everyone but me, but it’s what I wanted to write about today:
On February 12, I finally figured out that the weird sensation I’d had in my mouth for several days was actually an infected wisdom tooth. (I’d had a bad cold, and thought that the weird sensation was related to the cold.) So I called my dentist, she put me on antibiotics and referred me to an oral surgeon for a consult, and within a few days I’d met the oral surgeon. Nothing urgent, she said, but that wisdom tooth should be removed within the next six months, and I should expect to miss a week of work when it was removed. Ok, I thought, I can handle this; I looked at the library calendar and talked to the library director, and decided that Friday, April 1, was the perfect day for me to have the surgery. The current session of storytime for 2’s & 3’s would have just finished, the Lego Expo would be over, and it would be easy to cancel storytimes for two weeks at the beginning of April so that I could fully recuperate.
And then the left side of my face swelled up to freakish proportions, and the dentist had to put me on a much stronger antibiotic. She also told me, “You know, this infection will never really go away until that tooth is removed.” Change of plans, quick about face, and I took the first surgery appointment that they offered me, which was a week ago yesterday. Lots of people offered me advice and stories about their own wisdom tooth removals, but I’ve learned that the only people who were really honest with me were my brother, who said something along the lines of, “Ugh, that was awful when I had my infected wisdom tooth out,” and Jim, who said, “You’re going to hate it. I was swallowing blood for a week when I had mine out. It was gross.”
Everyone else sugarcoated it, and I think that they either have really, really poor memories, or they’ve been brainwashed, or they were lying. Because this has been a miserable, rotten, yucky, awful week. The anesthesia knocked me on my rear end Thursday night, and then I learned quite definitively that vicodin and I are not friends. At all. Admittedly, I did feel better Friday morning than I had in a while, and I cockily thought that I’d avoided all those nasty problems that come with wisdom tooth removal. Not so much.
Because I woke up early early in the morning on Sunday with some of the worst pain of my life. Oh, so bad, so bad. And then the ibuprofen kicked in, and I thought everything was fine, other than the nasty taste in my mouth. And then the pain crept in again, and receded again, and then hit with full brutal force again in the wee hours of early Tuesday morning. I put up with it as long as I could, but finally called the oral surgeon’s office and persuaded the rather snotty young woman who answered the phone that I needed an appointment, today.
Not surprisingly, the oral surgeon told me that I have the dreaded “dry socket” that she had warned me I was at higher risk for due to my age. If you haven’t had dry socket, thank your lucky stars. It’s pure, unadulterated pain, pain that saps the life out of you, leaving you just enough energy to watch a DVD or nap, nothing else. If you look up “dry socket,” you’ll see all sorts of suggestions for how to avoid it, and I’d just like to make it very clear that I did all of those things – and still got dry socket. What is dry socket, you ask? Basically, your body is supposed to produce a nice blood clot to fill in the empty socket where your tooth once was, thus protecting the never-before-exposed bone and nerves. In dry socket, the blood clot either doesn’t form, or dissipates too early, leaving the bone and nerves open to air and food and hot and cold. And, as I’ve learned, you also get the nastiest imaginable taste in your mouth, partly from food catching in the socket, and partly from the putrefecation of the blood clot.
So here it is on Friday, a week and a day since the surgery, and the pain is getting a bit better, a bit, and the taste in my mouth isn’t totally foul (but pretty close), and I’ve done absolutely nothing fun or productive with my time off from work, which feels like a dreadful waste of vacation time that could have been used for better purpose. Two surgeries in seven months, and my last vacation well over a year ago – not the ideal.
But I do remind myself that I’m damned lucky to have dental insurance, which covered all but $206 of the procedure, and to live in a part of the world where quality dental care is readily available. With an infection like I’d developed, if I’d lived in a part of the world where health care was hard to come by, I might well not have lived to tell my tale of woe. And that’s just wrong; the technology is there to cure such things, and everyone deserves to benefit from it.
And now I think I’ll go take another dose of ibuprofen to curb the swell of pain that I feel coming on me. Maybe I’ll have a mint, too. Blech.