Today, I was operated on. As I’m typing this, my lower jaw is still numb (although not as numb as before), and I have to consciously push my lower lip out with my tongue. It was an experience I’ll never forget and I’m about to describe it in excruciating detail just as my friend recounted his experience to me last night. It helped because I knew what was coming up next. Hopefully this helps somebody.
I had two wisdom teeth left. Both lower molars – left and right. I’m not sure what happened to the top two. Perhaps they were extracted when I was getting braces done. But that was when I was 14 or 15, and that seemed kind of young to have wisdom teeth grown out, so maybe not.
I had a consultation on Tuesday with the dentist and she advised having both extracted at the same time. I was worried about not being able to chew any food. She said it’s a fallacy that extracting one side would mean you can chew on the other. I believed her. She also advised having local anaesthesia instead of general anaesthesia. I believed her. I believed in her because she was wonderful, clear, straight to the point and yet assuring. I didn’t always feel wonderful about the decisions but I believed in her.
Today, two hours ago, I was lying in the chair as the nurses prepped me for the surgery. I was in a surgical gown, shower cap, shoe cap, trying to be still while lying on the chair. The nurse wiped my face with antiseptic wipes, and smudged Vaseline on my lips. The dentist entered and she asked me how I was doing. This must be a trick question. I said I’m good but nervous. She was amused. She said the two lower molars will be coming off. I said that wasn’t the best situation but okay. She was amused again.
She then said she understood how I was feeling because she had gone through it herself. She had returned a changed person after undergoing the procedure as she knew how it felt to be in the chair, instead of the dental surgeon. I regained trust in her.
She then swiped two cotton buds with something disgusting, and placed it in my mouth and said, this is going to be bitter, but some things in life just have to be bitter. I don’t like that idea. It was indeed bitter, but I’m Asian. I can take anything that tastes funky.
She then got me to open my mouth as wide as I could, and I did with reluctance. She got her needle and injected me. It was so damn painful I was trembling. I realised that and tried to relax so I wouldn’t tremble anymore. This went on at intervals. After she injected a few times around the area, she showed me the needle and said that was what she had learnt from her experience. She used thin needles instead of the giant one, and injected really slowly so that it would slowly absorb and really get in. It was really slow indeed, it was freaking painful. I wondered why I listened to her when she suggested local anaesthesia. She should’ve knocked me out completely.
Then it started to get numb. I felt weird opening and closing my jaw. She went away as the nurse placed a towel on my chest and eyes. Good, I could see nothing but the light. I closed my eyes and thought happy thoughts. Langkawi, beach, sand, scooter. S wants to ride a scooter around Langkawi and that was an exciting thought!
The dentist came back. She was ready, I was not. But okay, there’s no point waiting. She told me she was going to begin. She injected the area a few more times. It was good and numb. She then proceeded to slice my gum. I was numb and I could feel the movements. It must’ve been bleeding crazily. The nurse did a good suction job. I didn’t taste the blood. Maybe my tongue was numb too. Then she whipped out another fancy equipment and told me I was going to hear drilling and feel some vibrations. And she drilled my tooth in half. That took two kinds of drilling equipment. She then got her surgical tongs and ripped it right out of the socket.
I was warned that female dentists didn’t have the strength and often seem like they’re using a whole lot of effort trying to get wisdom tooth out, so male dentists were the way to go. But they were wrong, she was awesome. She got it out, and I didn’t feel her body weight on me. I didn’t feel her struggle. She took a little while but she got it out without much trouble. She told me it was done and she was going to stitch it up. And she did. Then it was time for the other side.
Bearing in mind I was periodically trembling with fear, then trying to take a deep breath to calm myself down, worrying about my wriggling tongue getting sliced, worrying about her drilling my other tooth by mistake, etc, it was really assuring when she told me I was doing a good job. What did she probably mean was – good job lying on the chair though you’re trembling and making things difficult for me. But she said it convincingly, so I believed I was doing a good job. I took another deep breath.
I told myself if I could do it once, I could do it twice. The slicing, the drilling, the yanking it out and the stitching repeated. Langkawi, scooter, Langkawi, scooter. And then it was done.
My lower jaw was entirely numb, and any sound I made ranged from mm (go on), mmhmm (yes) to mm-mm (no). But they had lots of questions for me. Did I feel giddy, did I want to top up the balance with cash or card, did I want to use nets or master, did I have any questions for them. I struggled to make sounds that sound like words.
I was also warned by friends that I should take the painkillers as timely as possible, i.e. every 6 hours. But when I received my medication, it stated – one pill every morning after food. Oh god – my painkillers are only taken once a day.
Now I’m home – extremely happy to be home – and thankful to never ever have to repeat the above, ever, ever again.
Thank goodness wisdom teeth don’t regrow like milk teeth.