the last few days
So, in case you were wondering, that last post was basically a FB update I shared because I just didn’t have the energy to blog about anything, really. I still probably don’t. But I do want to write, so let’s see how long this lasts.
I worked on Monday, and it was one of the more stressful days I’ve had. Work was particularly annoying, and I didn’t get anything done that I wanted to accomplish. I talked a lot to a coworker/friend and found myself panic Googling–something I used to do when my mother got sick. It’s my way of filling my head with as much “knowledge” as possible to comfort myself or at least distract myself from the crippling reality.
Only I’ve found that this activity really does not comfort me, usually. People post the worst case scenarios online and people are dramatic. Always. So the information shared isn’t always the best and can leave you more anxious than when you began. That was me on Monday.
(Side note: Thank God my gb surgery went down how it did…because googling that ahead of time would have probably stopped me from doing it altogether…as this almost did this week).
So, yea…I was pretty terrified. So terrified that I bought a crap ton of stuff on Monday–because what if I barf everywhere? I’ll need a bucket, surely. I have no bucket. And ginger. And all the vitamins.
But somewhere in that panic, I stopped and realized I needed to take good care of my emotional health as much as the physical stuff. And I added in stuff for that, too. A real shift for me…a WIN. And I was very grateful for it on Thursday.
My roommate had agreed to drive me to my appointment in Santa Clara on Tuesday morning. The night before, they had called, asking if I could come in 1/2 – 1 hour early to my already pretty early appointment. I think they had a patient who had problems and needed to be seen right away. It wasn’t a big deal, but that set in my mind that there could be problems and also meant I had to deal with asking the roommate and etc.
On Tuesday, I was up at 6 am–an hour before I normally ever wake up…unless it’s lately. I cleaned the cat stuff, prepped syringes for Fogg in case I was too out of it, and took as close to a luxurious bath as I could. And then Googled more shit when I was toweling off. Because all the nerves!
I took two Calm-Aid–not just one–and felt the lavender magic take the edge off. So thankful for those little capsules of calm. I got dressed, tried to look like I wasn’t terror-filled, and braced myself for the day–loving on my kitties in case I died. I contemplated just not going about 50 times, but knew I really had to. This wasn’t some elective thing for me.
My top fears?
- I would be too out of it afterwards to take care of the cats. Even though I taught my roommate injections and even though he’d help care for them back in Denver.
- Me being totally crazy after my surgery and saying awful things to people; roommate posting it to YouTube.
- Me talking about sex or bodily functions with the dental staff.
- Bleeding to death.
- Swallowing my tooth.
- My new filling popping out or being damaged and me needing a root canal I wouldn’t be able to get for more than a week.
- Severe nausea and puking everywhere.
- Diarrhea from antibiotics.
- Not being able to poop for weeks.
- Holes in my mouth.
- Nerve damage.
- Migraine headaches.
- Holes in my sinuses.
- Fucking dry socket.
- No one giving a shit.
So, um. Yea. Lots of fear.
I went into the office, was greeted lukewarmly by the very professional receptionist (she’s like that). And my roommate told me some horrible story about his extraction that terrified me. I seriously was good until he told me that.
He settled in. They took me back.
The hygienist(?)/assistant took my blood presssure. It was through the roof–the highest it’s ever been–and I have white coat syndrome and took extra Calm-Aid! 155/103 or something. Like so high, we had to wait for me to calm down and retake it. I took some deep breaths and then self-talked myself down from the ledge and it went down to 138/90–which is normal for me in doctor’s offices and as good as it was gonna get. That was apparently peachy, so we started the prep. She explained what would happen and I got comfy. As comfy as you can get in the chair of Hell, anyway.
I had opted for the laughing gas-local combo. I really didn’t want anesthesia because I may still have sleep apnea, so that can be tricky–as in Alma could die tricky–and I wanted some hope of normal afterwards. Good thing, too.
So, they put oxygen on, then started the gas. I didn’t feel any different really and then my toes felt fuzzy…so I knew it was working. They began the shots…lots of shots–which I felt but they didn’t hurt. I never really feel bothered by shots–without laughing gas–but apparently that’s what scares most people. I was known by my Denver dentist for having nerves of steel when it came to such things.
And then they went to work. The bottom molar really sucked. The crack had made the tooth crumble a bit, so it did hurt–and I felt it–so they gave me more numbing. I was aware of him stitching me up, but had my eyes closed so I couldn’t see anything. I felt totally normal. I had no idea he even took out the top one until I felt the stitching again. I also had no idea my cheek had been cut.
It took all of 57 minutes for me to get medicated, pulled, and instructed on what to do for aftercare. Not bad. No real pain. I felt totally normal. Maybe more of a storytelling, jokester version of me–but normal.
And because of this–the car ride back was probably more of an ordeal than it should have been. My roommate didn’t realize I needed to get medications. (I don’t know how he failed to realize that, but he did). So, he’d scheduled stuff in spite of me telling him to take the day off from work since I wasn’t sure how bad it would be. I understand that he was whatever about it, but he was just a big jerk and had zero compassion for the fact that I just had a pretty big surgery. Now, when you’ve just had said surgery, it’s really not the best thing to have some guy yelling at you for an entire car ride. Just sayin’. We went to the pharmacy drive-through since I wasn’t really able to walk inside and I needed to be there since narcotics. They told us to come back about 2 hours later to pick them up. So we went home, and it worked out.
I don’t really talk about it here, but let’s just say that kind of thing didn’t really end and has been pretty typical of our interactions for a while now. It was part of why I had such anxiety about the surgery–just feeling like I couldn’t trust that there’d be support. I wasn’t surprised by it, given our current friendship, but it was disappointing especially given how the week went and how he never once checked on me. I’m glad I did so well and was pretty with-it. I was grateful I really didn’t need him to do anything for me.
As soon as I got home, I broke out the ice packs and marveled by how easy the whole thing had been. And how terrifying it was that a person could yank a huge tooth out of your head with that little difficulty.
Basically, most of my fears were complete craziness.
But there was the bleeding. Oh, God, the bleeding. I bled a lot. Not scary amounts, but for a long time. I eventually had to eat since I’d had nothing since midnight. I started with a paleta, I think. I stayed away from things that were too warm or too cold and kept everything to the right side of my mouth. I noticed, right away, that I had this weird skin flap thing–that scared me–so I Googled and felt better. Then left it alone. The anesthesia started wearing off when we went back for my meds, and that sucked. I could feel it in my ear and jaw. I also had a really bad migraine that shot up that nerve–the same one that had given me grief for weeks.
At first, eating–swallowing–was tough–but I made it. I probably shouldn’t have done this, but I decided to do jaw exercises–opening and closing–that sort of thing. Every 20 minutes, I changed the gauze. I was really glad I put a trash can next to my bed.
I gave Fogg her normal injection with zero difficulty, but was glad I’d measured it out that morning for my roommate. Of course, Fogg being Fogg, she tried to evade and went as far back under the bed as possible. I crawled under and grabbed her–something I shouldn’t have done–but after the earlier yelling–I was in no mood to ask him for anything.
Later, one of the other cats barfed under my bed…so again, I had to climb underneath to clean it up–which made me bleed more. Fun times. Lots of friends checked in and sent well wishes and encouragement. Most of my friends were so great, and I was reminded of those who show up for me. They may be few, sometimes, but I love them immensely. I especially appreciated my coworker. You really get to know who you can count on and who you can’t.
I ate well the first day, followed all of the rest of the instructions, and slept a lot. I was still bleeding late into the evening, so I did a few rounds with teabags, and my bleeding finally stopped enough that I stopped gauze at 1 am. I did my best to avoid major pain killers.
The next morning, I had pretty much zero facial swelling, but my tongue was huge, and I had a slight fever. Not bad, but my cheeks were red. The pain in my jaw felt deeper, and I still had that migraine. That was basically it. I waited until after 10 am to start my salt rinses, and they sucked. But I was really happy to brush my teeth and get that yuck out of my mouth. I hate not being able to spit–the worst.
I worried non-stop about dry socket, but the bleeding finally stopped completely. No nausea or anything else. I basically felt normal. I had a long convo with my coworker–which was good–but I immediately regretted it because my mouth hurt more after. Icing it helped a lot. I ate pretty robust foods, but got sick of processed food and decided to do a Whole Foods run on Thursday. I bought lots of flowers for myself and lots of good food and felt so much better about life. But then the pain started again, and I was again terrified of dry socket–but it wasn’t crazy pain or throbbing pain–so I was less worried. It was mostly that damn migraine plus nerve-y pain in my teeth and ear–like what I’d had for weeks with the filling debacle. But less. The filling is intact, I think, so I think that same nerve is just pissed off.
But dry socket was my total fear. It still is. I started swishing with colloidal silver and taking various herbs and vitamins. I talked too much on Thursday and Friday, too. I worked half of Friday, and it really sucked…so much that I forgot my antibiotics and to feed/medicate the cats. Lesson: don’t skip meals while on painkillers and don’t schedule yourself for work the week of surgery of any kind.
It’s fine. We’re okay. But the guilt is still strong. Still, I’m only human doing it all on my own. A medicated human on drugs that make me really sleepy. I came up with a better system to remind me.
It’s now the morning of Day 4. I have some ear pain, but it’s mostly itchy. The jaw pain is back, but it’s not too terrible. Just when I first tried opening my mouth today. The swishes are easier. Still doing the colloidal silver. Taking lots of herbs and vitamins. Ate a croissant. Eating is basically normal again, though I’m trying to give my jaw a break.
I see the dr on Tuesday, so hopefully, it all looks good. The hole area feels okay. I just wish the ear and migraine stuff would vamoose.
I figured out why all this dental stuff lately has felt so traumatic. I’ve never been afraid of dentists. As a kid, I loved going. But this week, I remembered something. The last time I was in an oral surgery room was with my mother.
My Mama’s surgery had been scheduled earlier in the month. We had gone down to the hospital, done all the things, had her ready to go–except for anesthesia–and then the anesthesiologist voiced concerns about her teeth.
Mama had bad teeth. She’d never had dental insurance and was not really that educated about it. They were really concerned that they’d knock teeth out during the intubation. So, they decided not to do the surgery that day–giving us 2 more weeks together–and sent us to the dental school to get every tooth she had pulled.
They did local. Not sure why. But I held her hand through the whole thing. She was a pro with pain by then, but it was brutal. I think I blocked out how brutal. But it must’ve been in my mind as I prepared for this. And having done all of this, man–I’m just amazed by how well she dealt with that. I don’t remember her complaining even once–even when she had no teeth to eat. In fact, those weeks after are the best we had during that whole ordeal.
Just gives me one more layer of respect and awe about that little woman I called Mama.
I miss her. And it sucks that she wasn’t the one driving me to and from. It would have felt much different. But in an odd way, I’m glad I was alone in getting well. That’s my life.
(Happy Mama’s Day to all the Mamas who make every day better and big hugs to those of us who miss ours so terribly).