I wanted to blog about this when I was feeling better. Then I forgot. So I’m doing it now.
Human beings, for better or for worse (usually for worse), are born with 32 adult teeth waiting in the wings. This seems to be a bit of a mistake as most adult jaws are sized for just 28 teeth. In my case, the two upper wisdom teeth were perfectly straight and right where they belonged (more or less) and content to sit there and play dumb. The two lower ones weren’t so cooperative. One ended up sideways (like the right side of this picture) and the other ended up upside-down, which I can’t even find an X-ray of online. Both needed to come out and the time for that was two weeks ago, on a Friday afternoon.
Friday morning I went to work as usual (with no breakfast – NPO for 6 hours prior to the appointment) but I went home at 11:00 AM. The appointment was at 1:45 PM and I was instructed to take my 10mg of Valium at noon. The ride to the surgeon’s office was the most hilarious thing ever for no particular reason.
I remember having to use the restroom before I went under. I also remember thinking that the Valium was wearing off by the time they sat me in the chair. They hooked me up to a pulse/oximeter, 4-lead EKG, and nasal oxygen cannula. They were getting pissed at me for being so nervous. The surgeon tried to find a vein to start the IV but had trouble. I snarked at him that he had me abstain from water so I was probably dehydrated. He really didn’t like that. He found a vein and went for it but I twitched and made him miss it. It hurt terribly and I howled in pain. I’d had IVs before but they usually weren’t anywhere near this painful. He stopped and looked at me and said “Mr. Armstrong, you’re a grown man. Kindly start acting like it.” I apologized and the assistants grabbed my head and held it down to keep it from turning. He stuck me again and after some hunting (and more whining on my part), found a vein. I told them that it hurt and he told the assistant to start the drip. I noticed a cold feeling in the arm under the IV and then a vaguely sick feeling all over. And then it was fuzzy and dark. They were giving me Versed (a sedative), an anti-nausea medication normally used for chemotherapy, a nasal decongestant, and an NSAID pain reliever and anti-inflammatory drug.
I felt them giving me the two mandibular block anesthetic injections. It didn’t hurt but I could feel the needle. That didn’t last long.
I next remember waking up halfway and wanting to go back to sleep and the assistants shaking me and telling me I had to wake up. Then almost instantly I started gagging and retching. They handed me an emesis basin but I didn’t bring anything up, despite about 3 solid minutes of retching. Then they gave me a cold compress for my head and laid me back down. I felt much better after a few minutes. I kept falling asleep again and they kept waking me up. After about 30 minutes, I was okay to move into a wheelchair to go to the car. By the time I got home, I was feeling okay again. They gave me an ice pack to hold on both sides intermittently to bring the swelling down.
I ate some jello when I got home because I was hungry. The numbness took 7 hours to wear off. By the time it did, I was in a great deal of pain so I took a Vicodin and slept for the next 4 hours until my mom woke me up to yet again change the gauze pads. I then slept for another 4 hours (another gauze pad change and another Vicodin), and then another 2 hours of sleep.
I had some jello for breakfast Saturday morning. I took my last dose of Vicodin and kind of dozed for a while but I was feeling much better. The most painful parts were the injection sites, incision sites, and jaw muscles from clenching the gauze. The bleeding stopped on the right at about 9:00 A.M. and on the left about 11:00 A.M. I started taking 3 ibuprofen for the pain instead of the Vicodin. That also helped bring down the swelling. I discontinued the ice pack about noon.
At this point, I was feeling pretty good and was eating some mushy foods like yogurt and pudding and such. It took me a little under a week to fully recover. The swelling took about 5 days to subside and the sutures dissolved after 7 days.
I went for a follow-up today and the surgeon was surprised at how well my recovery has been going. He expected there to be complications due to the extremely complex and difficult nature of the procedure. He told me not to get my hopes up yet because I could still get a very painful and very difficult-to-treat infection for up to 3 more weeks. Lovely.