Saturday, July 23, 2011

Why I Look Like a Lop-sided Chipmunk Part II

I went to a Pioneer Day breakfast with my ward this morning.  Many people pretended not to notice my swollen and lop-sided face.  Which, I appreciated.  But I'm vain enough that I haven't ventured out again.  I feel like I MUST keep explaining what happened and the reality is most people just don't care.

It was a bit of a negotiation process to decide to do this many, five, gum grafts at once.  Back in the olden days of three years ago, dentists had to "harvest" your own tissue to do gum grafts, putting a bit of a limit on how many could be done at once.  This also left the patient with a gapping hole in the roof of her mouth that was, no question, the most painful and annoying thing to heal.

But in the last three years they have learned how to take starts from cadaver tissues, grow it in a petri dish, then sew that into your gums. Or at least, that's my understanding of the procedure.  Not only does it save the roof of your mouth, but you can now have a zillion teeth grafted at once.

So I entered the dentist's office at 9:00 in the morning and by 9:30 was breathing deeply vanilla flavored nitrous while holding my iPad in the air, by it's edges trying to figure out how to make it so that I was the only one to hear the music coming out of it.

I was introduced to a pre-dent student named Jason and things were underway.  Except my earbud in my right ear--the one right next to the dentist--kept falling out and the nitrous was on so low that I wasn't anywhere near loopy, a condition I prefer while having gum grafts.  I eventually wound my right arm up to my ear and stuck the bud back in, then, tapping the laughing gas that was across my nose, I jerked my thumb in the air twice to tell them I didn't want to be conscious of every little thing they were doing.

It was 11:40 when they told me that they were going to let my mouth rest (code for see other patients in the middle of my extremely long procedure) and left.  As I sat and listened to my Christian/Gospel music, I became increasingly aware of two things:  1) I could feel my teeth and 2) I needed to go to the bathroom.  It was 10 after noon, by my best estimation, when my team came back to finish what they had begun.  My first four gum grafts--the ones that took 2 hours to do--were all on my upper right side.  My remaining graft was on my upper left.  (This information is critical later.)

After sticking a "tooth pillow," that thing that keeps your mouth jammed open during dental procedures, in my right-side, the dentist began scrapping at the root of my tooth on the left.  I nearly came out of my chair.  So, they numbed me up again and immediately began scraping, to which, I had the same reaction.  There was nothing to do now but let me sit again until the medicine took effect.  I took the opportunity to take a potty brake.  But having been on laughing gas for more nearly three hours, I could hardly stand up, let alone walk a straight line.

The sweet, petite, nurse who's name tag said, "Jenny," thought she should walk next to me on the way to the bathroom.  This seemed absurd since, if I fell over and she tried to catch me, we'd both be going down. But I slid my hand along the wall and tottered my way drunkenly to the bathroom.

After I was seated back in my dental chair, with a blanket over me because I was freezing by this point, I was more and more concerned about how much I was feeling on my right side.  Under these circumstances, my dental team appeared once more and worked for the next 30 minutes on my left side.  When I left the office at 1:00, I couldn't get my post-op instructions, prescriptions for meds, pay and get out of there fast enough.

It was 1:30 by the time I got home and collapsed in my bed awaiting Wendell's return with some pain killers while holding an icepack to my face.

No comments: