128-Heroic Potential

Because of my prolonged fear of dentistry, by the time my wife did finally manage to find a dentist I was willing to go to (bless her for keeping at it) there was quite a bit of work for them to do. A lot of it was apparently on my wisdom teeth, and one in particular. Because they had to do so much drilling in one area the tooth was becoming cracked, and they suggested that I start thinking about removing it. Further, they said that as long as I was going to have one done I might as well get all four taken out, since the additional cost was negligible, (+20% of the price of one) and there were already other potential problem areas they had spotted coming up on the x-rays.

I was worried about the pain of the actual procedure, everyone knows someone who has a horror story about dental surgery, but mostly I was concerned about the after-affects. The giant swollen face and not being able to eat anything but soft food and non-alcoholic beverages so as not to interfere with healing or antibiotics. This did not sound like my kind of party.

Now it had taken Lena almost five years to find a dentist I could trust. One of her favorite stories to tell is about all the phone calls she used to get from whichever tooth doctor she had sent me to, reporting “Mrs. Shore, your husband has run away again.” As you can see, it was with a degree of uncertainty that I learned that my now beloved dentist would be unable to extract my blighted teeth. However, she did have one absolute recommendation, a surgeon she said she would take her children to should they ever need anything done. My dental technician, whom I value like a member of my own family, (well, more than, in some cases) agreed, and I went to see the surgeon.

At the consult, I pretty much saw everything i needed to. The surgeon was friendly, helpful, and competent, but years of working in offices have taught me to look a little further to determine what kind of people I am dealing with. If the top dog is friendly and all the other dogs look like whipped pups, then the top dog is lying to you. If, on the other hand, the staff is lackadaisical then the man on top may not really be all that worthy of their respect. Obviously neither of these are qualities you want in the guy who is about to be yanking teeth out of your head.

I needn’t have worried. Not only was the surgeon great, but his people were relaxed and efficient, seeming to be confident in themselves and in their boss. I felt like an enormous hurdle had been overcome.

Lena and I had to save up almost six months for the surgery. I got some illustration jobs with the city that ended up paying for most of it, and she made the appointment. There were prescriptions to fill ahead of time and pills to take on the way into the surgeon’s office. Tagamet to keep me from feeling nauseous and Halcyon to relax me. (Halcyon, incidentally, feels exactly like Valerian Root does in the Kevin-relaxing department. Except of course that the Root is both cheaper and non-prescription.)

Once there I started cracking jokes to make myself feel better and the surgeon responded in kind. (Me: Hey, have all of you guys washed your hands? Him: No, but that’s a great idea. Someone write that down for next time!) Once in the chair the hooked up the nitrous mask and told me to breathe deeply. It occurred to me that was the first time I had ever done that legally, and while I was enjoying the familiar old sensation from my Gainesville days, someone slipped an IV into my arm and the real fun started. Apparently though they thought that I was having a little too much fun and decided that the “twilight” anesthesia wasn’t quite enough and they knocked me out completely. I woke up about 45 minutes later feeling great but totally unable to communicate. Fortunately I didn’t seem to care all that much.

I kept trying to talk, and the nurse kept telling me to stop. Finally someone put a pad of paper and a pen in my hands so that I could write out my completely incomprehensible scribble. I suppose it was important that I be unintelligible in as many formats as possible.

The rest of that day was spent largely asleep. Lena was at my side constantly administering drugs and trying to get me to eat something to keep me from being nauseous. She was an angel. I have no idea how I’d have coped without her. (My guess is painfully.)

The majority of the experience is now behind me, though I am still dealing with some residual swelling and pain. One of my teeth was a little less willing to let go than the rest, and the surgeon had to be more forceful in his arguments. It’s been nice taking it easy around the house though, and Lena has picked up my slack. (That comes with a time limit though — I need to finish healing up soon!) I got to watch almost all of Stephen King’sKingdom Hospital series, all that’s left is the final episode, and that’s been awesome. Tomorrow will probably be a more-or-less normal work day, and I’m pretty happy about that too.

Mostly though I’m just ready for everything to get back to normal. Mashed potatoes and pudding is fine for a day, but I’d kill for a beer and pizza right now.

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