under the influence

I got my wisdom teeth taken out this morning.

Actually, I only had those on the right side extracted; the left side has been left for the last Friday in September. In a way I wish they had just gone ahead and done the whole job at once, but then I suppose I would be even less coherent and more ghastly looking than I already am.

I wasn’t as nervous as I should have been, I suppose, going into the whole ordeal. The last time I had teeth taken out was somewhat of an “experience”, to say the least, complete with all the novacaine I could possibly be given yet still vividly feeling pain, which required not only a rescheduling of the appointment but the involvement of the famed “Mr. Green & Mr. Blue”, otherwise known as laughing gas. (And laugh I did.)

I entered the dentist’s office this morning knowing that the difficulties faced last time would most likely rear their ugly heads again, and when I was already brought to tears just by the doctor giving the novacaine shots, I just went ahead and asked them to bring in the gas.

“It’ll be an extra charge,” the nurse warned me.

“I don’t care,” I replied through my tears.

And my old friends Mrs. Green & Blue were wheeled in again, and I don’t think I was ever happier to see them. They left me in the room alone for a bit while the effects of the novacaine and gas set in, and I had that peculiar sensation of going round in circles, though I changed directions every few rotations. Now clockwise, now counterclockwise, I tried to put the sensations to a rhythm, and was vaguely frustrated when I couldn’t. I tried not to laugh at the mental image I had of my bloated, now-numb right side of my face. I had this wonderful feeling of the world being a beautiful place, and felt as if myself and my teeth and all other woes in my life had taken to making daisy-chains and dancing in circles in wide, green fields. When the doctor came back in the ask if I was ready, I told him he could take all my teeth and I wouldn’t care. (Thankfully he didn’t take me up on that.)

I was briefed on what was going to happen, that I would feel pressure but not pain, and if I did feel pain that I should raise my left hand (here I held up my hands with my thumb and index finger at right angles and tried to remember which hand was which.) As they set to work I wondered at how much I didn’t care about what they were doing. I felt the pressure they said would be there, and when the dentist told me not to be afraid, I wanted to tell him I found it all amusing, not frightening. They worked and dug around in my mouth and pulled so hard that they pulled my head sideways as well.

I understood in that instance why people might turn to alcohol, or drugs, or any of those other infinite methods of numbing ourselves to the world. Wouldn’t it be great, I thought, to feel this way about everything? About every obstacle that came along, every pain, every tooth pulled? I thought about faith and trusting in God, and how we lean so heavily on Him when things get rough. Religion is a crutch, I said to myself, or so says the world. But if you can’t walk properly, what is the shame of using a crutch? Why do we despise that so?

They finished with the first tooth, and left me alone for a bit before they set to work on the second.

If you can’t walk, use a crutch.

I realized my lips were moving as if I was thinking aloud, and I tried to close my mouth, though the numbness kept me from knowing if I had actually succeeded in doing so. My face felt huge, and I wondered what I looked like. As they came back in and started on the other tooth, I had this fleeting thought I would never be able to go through with a natural childbirth.  I was twitching, surely from the effects of the gas, and though my arms were by my sides I felt like I was waving them around.

They finished, finally, and at my request showed me my teeth, bloody and surprisingly large. I asked if I could keep them, and they told me I couldn’t. What on earth they would want with them, I have no idea. Then again, I don’t know what I would do with them, either.

under the influence

8 thoughts on “under the influence

  1. Oh my. This brings back memories. Thank goodness I have no more wisdom teeth left, so I’ll never have to face that ordeal again.Is your jaw yellow, black, blue and green yet?

  2. Anonymous says:

    I got to keep my wisdom teeth. I don’t know where I put them, though.I will be quite literally feeling some of your pain after my super-scary jaw surgery on Wednesday.Hang in there, lady.

  3. I feel your pain!  At least I remember mine.  It seems that the second and third days were worse than the first when my jaw would still be numb.  You will be glad when it is all over.
    Grandpa got another shot (his eighth I think) this last Tuesday.  It bled a little and his eye is still blood shot.

  4. They gassed me and I totally turned into the rankest comedian. I had my doctors laughing so hard they could scarcely do their jobs. I saw double afterwards and frightened another patient half out of his wits on my way out. Later, I yelled for pain killers. And I remembered not a bit of it. That’s the scary part.

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