Thursday, August 21, 2008

Send in the Tooth Fairy


"Shake my hand, rip my teeth out," I said.

The oral surgeon had the grace to look disconcerted as we shook hands.

The certificates on his wall proclaimed that he is a medical doctor and also a dentist. It crossed my mind that he might be an undertaker too, but there was no documentation to that effect.

It seems that at my ripe old age I need to have my wisdom teeth, which I had thought to keep forever, removed. They are doomed. I should hang a sign that this property is condemned.

There is a lesson in impermanence here which never occurred to me.

While waiting for the doctor I studied two before-and-after photographs of patients who had maxillofacial surgery. The man in the top picture had no chin while the woman below him on the wall had a pugnacious prize fighter chin. In the after pictures, he was bulked up while she was minimized. I wondered if they took some of her excess equipment and gave it to him.

I was read a laundry list of Things That Could Go Wrong, although I was assured that most were unlikely, then asked to sign a release which felt like promising my firstborn child to Rumpelstiltskin. I admit to what could be an unhealthy attachment to my own body parts as we have all been very happy together for a very long time. And now some of us have reached the end of the road.

I told the doctor's scheduler that I needed a few weeks to get used to the idea and she suggested the second week of September. I opted for September 11th since that day is already living in infamy. How better to commemorate the destruction of the World Trade Center than to host a search and destroy mission right in my own mouth?

The doctor gave me a choice of Vicodin or Darvocet and I chose the latter because the name reminded me of Darvon, which I was given after my third child was born by emergency C-Section. It was a very nice drug and under its influence I dreamed of flying across the Atlantic on a Milk Bone dog biscuit.

I will have to eat soft foods for a week and have already arranged with Flip to make his killer mashed potatoes. Every day. I am going to be the Star Patient and in return he has graciously offered to take any leftover drugs off my hands. Flip is helpful that way. It would please us both if he could take all my drugs for me.

"Will you be able to talk?" he asked.

"I might not for a day or two," I said.

A flash of pleasure crossed his face which he quickly controlled. Flip is a married man. He knows better.

"I won't be able to cook either," I said.

His smirk disappeared instantly.

The oral surgeon seems like a lovely person but I wonder how he sleeps at night, divesting people of their personal parts, as he does, by day. It also doesn't seem right that this will cost so much when I am providing all the materials.

62 comments:

thailandchani said...

Wow! I actually get to leave the first comment! :)

Your description of Flip's momentary lapse is truly funny! I wonder if most men feel that way. They like it so much when we can't talk.

Tell him he'd better keep you supplied with mashed potatoes or you'll talk anyway!

~*

RED MOJO said...

Wow, I find this incredibly scary, I still have my wisdom teeth too...don't worry, you'll be able to talk!

I love September 11th as your choice! You make me laugh. :)

artfulkisser said...

Apparently they DO have trouble sleeping. Dunno if it's an urban legend but I remember hearing somewhere that the suicide rate of dentists/oral surgeons is one of the highest amongst the professions. Imagine being in a job where most people were terrified of you? Hardly satisfying - unless you're Steve Martin in Little Shop of Horrors... Good luck!

Nick said...

If only the tooth fairy could wave her magic wand and in a swirling cloud of fairy dust those troublesome wisdom teeth would just pop out and disappear! I never had any wisdom teeth but I did have six teeth removed as a kid because my jaws are so small they were all colliding with each other.

Maybe you won't be able to talk but you could always send Flip a blizzard of emails instead!!

Nick said...

PS: Darvocet sounds likes a nuclear missile. Perhaps it just zeroes in on the condemned tooth and instantly destroys it in a puff of smoke?

angelsarentfree said...

I never thought about it like that before...finding myself a recent permanent fixture at the dentist. I'm still smarting from the cost.

furiousBall said...

i got my last two out earlier this year and had dry sockets. you don't want those.

comfortandjoy said...

Heart,

I love how you think.

I love that you will mourn the loss of your wisdom teeth.

You make me smile until my face hurts.

CJ

WNG said...

I've scheduled and reneged on having all four of my wisdome teeth out three times now.
That form gets me every time. I'm fine for a couple months and then the pain comes back... Eventually I'm going to have to go home to Mama G and let her make me go...yeah I'm a wimp. All that said this is a great excuse for you to indulge in the new Haagen Daaz flavors.
(I'm always looking for the bright side!)

meno said...

I had this done a few years ago after avoiding it for decades. You have my deepest sympathies.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Chani,

I always manage to communicate. Nobody puts Susy in the corner.

Mojo,

Yeah, well, it's already an infamous day. How much worse can it get?

Kisser,

Well, if he commits suicide before my surgery, I will take that as a sign and call the whole thing off.

I just watched the Steve Martin dentist video and I kept thinking, "I shouldn't be doing this."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOtMizMQ6oM

Nick,

I am automatically suspicious when someone asks for my order in advance and all the items are pain killers.

Any tooth fairy worth her salt would just make the problem disappear, but children are easily fooled.

Angel,

It's especially brutal without dental insurance. I wish I had the luxury of just worrying about owies.

Thank you for visiting!

Van,

No. I don't. It sounds horrible, the gift that keeps on giving.

I just read over the list of possible ill effects and now I'm kind of hoping that the world ends before 9/11. Or it becomes illegal to remove wisdom teeth in anyone old enough to vote.

CJ,

Yes, you get it. I do mourn those teeth. I have been treating them to everything delicious I can think of so at least they will die happy. (And hopefully, I won't.)

Wng,

Yes, in a world of pain, there is always Haagen Dasz. But here's the thing - I don't need an excuse to eat ice cream. I'm sorry,you'll have to do better.

And my teeth don't hurt. They have just quietly retired their numbers.

Meno,

Thank you. I gladly accept your deepest sympathies and take comfort in the fact that you are still with us.

The Fool said...

Dentistry is a bewildering occupation. It's not something I could do. Then again, money does change one's perspective on things. Best to you...I've been there, and now I keep my wisdom teeth in a medicine bag. Being wise is not all it's cut out to be.

BroLo said...

My dentist keeps threatening that he may have to extract my wisdom teeth if I don't floss every day and come in three times a year for a cleaning. I think he just wants to scare me into paying for the cleanings.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

No Fool,

I once asked a dentist friend how he came to choose his profession.

He said,"I wanted to get even and I didn't want to be a teacher."

Brolo,

But I do all those things so I should really get a hall pass. It's not fair, I tell you. It's simply not fair.

The Quiet Rage said...

Don't be scared... it's not as bad as you're anticipating. I lived through it myself and have not written a rant about it;)

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

Wisdom teeth do not resemble tombstones.

Where did they ever get that name, anyway? Wisdom teeth?! When? Who? How?

I have 2 gone and 2 to go. It's no picnic, but it's not all bad. You will feel better after the drugs wear off, you don't have to cook for a bit and you're putting your doctors kid through college with the money that will trade hands.
You are promoting education and reinforcing the economy; not to mention, doing yourself an enormous health service.

Could you spend the time or money better?

Just kidding.

;o)

I'm sure it will be fine. Please update as events occur.


Scarlett & Viaggiatore

Ian Lidster said...

The bonus is the mashed potatoes. And, to give you some extra cheer, there is an award for you at my blog.

seventh sister said...

You should spend the money on to tickets to Austin where you can actually get paid to have your wisdom teeth extracted in a pain study. My daughter did it a few years ago and she had almost not trouble at all. (Not like when I had it done in high school at the behest of my orthodonist.) She was eating a sandwich before they let her leave that day.
Seriously, there are drug testing facilities here and the oral surgeons are great and they really don't let you hurt much. We will make lost of mashed potatoes and smoothies and soup. Flip and Stephen can play a lot of music to help speed your healing.

seventh sister said...

Check this out

http://www.ppdi.com/study_volunteers/dental_clinic/

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Rage,

Thanks for the encouragement.

I'm very glad you lived through it and hope to follow your example.

Scarlett,

Waaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Looo-cy?

Ian,

Thank you for that, kind sir.

Flip makes excellent mashed potatoes, but I never thought my life would come to this.

Sister,

It's very tempting. We would both love to see you guys and spend time, but I would rather come to Austin when I'm feeling well enough to do something other than sleep and whimper. Let's work on a visit here or there soon, though.

velvet said...

Sounds ghastly! Good choice of date, though. Brilliant, as a matter of fact. :-)

I'm curious as to whether they give you the option of keeping them afterwards, but I suppose that would be a bit much, eh?

Good luck!

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Velvet,

When I was 11, I had an appendectomy and they didn't offer to give my appendix back to me in a jar like the boy down the hall. So I will probably leave empty-handed again.

Maria said...

I had my wisdom teeth out about twenty years ago and it wasn't so bad. The first day was painful and I was unable to go back to work, but after that, I was good to go.

The Fool said...

Heh heh...I'm a teacher...getting even with my culture...

:)

Craze said...

Great day to choose to lose a part of you that you've been carrying around for years. I've had all mine removed; it's not that bad.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

May the infamous day arrive and go,
With you giddily riding the flow,
Of happy dreamscapes drugged induced,
and severe tooth pains much reduced.
Be a star patient and be not morose,
But enjoy Flip's attention and mashed potatos.

MsLittlePea said...

I've been told I should have mine out too. Mine are impacted so they'll have to dig into my jawbone for them. I'm pretty fond of my jawbone so I've decided to wait until the last minute.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Maria,

But I dislike pain.

There must be a loophole.

No Fool,

There you go. God is in the rationale.

Craze,

"Not that bad" has the distinct sound of damning it with faint praise. Can you do any better here?

Calvin,

How sweet of you! You've reminded me that when I was five years old, I wrote my first poem, "The Squirrel." I actually still remember it but won't inflict it on you.

Sweet Pea,

I would feel the same. No question. Having my bones rearranged ranks very low on my list of pleasurable activities.

As I understand it, impacted wisdom teeth only cause problems if they're slanted toward other teeth. Most of the time, they just hunker below the gumline, doing no harm.

On a limb with Claudia said...

((hug)) I'm sorry you have to go through this. This has been a year of firsts for you. As always, I admire your courage and strength.

I had mine done by dental students who didn't have any idea what they were doing - but only cost $300. I'm certain this guy is more talented, and better trained! :)

The CEO said...

I had mine done by an excellent oral surgeon. About $300 per, and I was ready to eat the next day. Try not to listen while the procedure is happening, ask to listen to music through headphone, Beethoven if possible, maybe the 5th Symphony, something soaring.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Claudia,

Your experience sounds ghastly.

I think that firsts are generally good because they show that we're still growing. I could do without this particular one, though.

Monty,

I would prefer Vivaldi's "Four Seasons," and suspect that this procedure might take an entire year or at least seem to.

Soaring could be risky when I'm trying desperately to hang onto my earthly life.

rhubarbwhine said...

How are you feeling now? I have a pending dentist visit, and was thinking about your post whilst waiting for the appointment to be confirmed.

witnessing am i said...

It may be the end of the road for a few dollars, some discomfort and a couple of teeth, however. Surely this is NOT the end of the road for you or your wisdom.

Your post made me uneasy, as visits to doctors/dentists office will want to do, but I must admit I fell in love with the image of "flying across the Atlantic on a Milk Bone dog biscuit." That made me smile all day.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Rhubarb,

I feel fine now, thanks, except for a little anxiety about the upcoming event.

I wish you luck, too.

David,

For the first time I understood the attraction to drugs and couldn't wait to share my delight when the doctor visited a few days later.

He yanked the hypodermic out of the nurse's hand and said, "My little friend here is going on aspirin."

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

And? Are you feeling any better about the impending doom?

;o)

It will be fine, dear lady, and you will come out better than when you went in.

I am certain of it.


Scarlett & Viaggiatore

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Scarlett,

I'm going to hold you to that promise.

Julia said...

The week after getting my wisdom teeth removed was all a blur of bloody gauze, really powerful painkillers, and intense hunger. Eat plenty of mashed potatoes and you'll be fine.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Julia,

Just what everyone wants -- bloody mashed potatoes. (And I mean that literally.)

I will be hearing Ethel Merman sing, "Everything's Coming Up Roses" the whole time, and that's just plain mean.

Gayle's Joy In Life said...

My ex-husband was a dentist - what a learning experience.

This was a great post and I enjoyed it! As for the teeth, let 'em go; they'll only bring you pain.

Gayle

citizen of the world said...

Oh, bad luck with the wisdom teeth! I still have mine. Good luck with that!

Molly said...

I love how you take something so gruesome as having your teeth yanked from your head and make hilarious comedy from it. You should talk to the SNL folks........well, I don't watch it any more, but you sure would have fit right in with Gilda and friends!

Jo said...

For some strange reason, which I will never fully understand, I never did get my wisdom teeth. I wonder if there was some connection somewhere.

You will be just fine, and enjoy your flight over the Atlantic. :-) Flip will be waiting for you on the other side with his famous mashed potatoes. Tell him to have some Hagen Daaz Vanilla Bean ice cream ready for you as well. It's my drug of choice.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Gayle,

Exactly. And I know just how that pain will be delivered.

Citizen,

Now you see 'em, now you don't.

Molly,

I loved that show when they had Gilda, John, Chevy, Garrett, Dan, Jane, so many really talented people.

It's unwatchable trash now.

Josie,

Ice cream is on the acceptable foods list, as it happens.

You're lucky you never got yours. You must be especially special.

the walking man said...

Hearts...I went through a not pleasant surgery last week...and having had a couple of my wisdom teeth (hey wisdom is their word not mine) out, I strongly suggest the Vicodan for pain and Flips bonus.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Mark,

I'm glad you came through your surgery well, and appreciate your advice.

So Vicodin is stronger than Darvocet? I don't know much about drugs, obviously.

Cece said...

I had all 4 of mine pulled, a week a part, and I was fine within a day or two of the extractions. And they only gave me Tylenol 3. I think you'll be fine. Then again I have a very high tolerance for pain so maybe I was suppose to not be able to talk and all that good stuff but just didn't realize it. Hmmm...

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Cece,

You were able to talk afterward? Oh, that is good news!

Jocelyn said...

I had my wisdom teeth removed as an adult, too. So did my husband.

I'm not going to type anything else.

Oh, no, I'm not.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Jocelyn,

Just so you know, you haven't helped. I'm getting more scared every day.

I suppose there is comfort in the fact that you and your husband are still among the living, though. You are, aren't you?

Yes___
No____
Not sure____

the walking man said...

As the 15th surgery i've been knocked out for the one last week entailed inplanting a device into my butt cheek and then 5 slits up my back to fish two wires up into my neck area (which was done by inserting a hollow metal rod from slit to slit to get the wires up) where the slice was L shaped. The muscles of the neck had to be moved and separated to place the leads (paddles)under the vertabae in my cervical area.

I know for a fact Darvocet would have never have touched the ensuing surgical pain but Vicodan has gotten me through the hump of it and allowed me some sleep too.

Vicodan though does have an addictive quality to it and head aches and constipation are common side effects, but it is definitely a narcotic.

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginformation.html

I've always found this site has helpful information about any drug in common use.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Mark,

I'm so sorry you're going through so many painful procedures. You must be the bionic man.

Thank you for the information. I try to avoid Vicodin because I know it's quickly addictive, but I won't hesitate to ask for another prescription if I need it.

I hope you feel much better really soon!

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

Ah no, dear Heart...

I didn't promise.

I specifically worded it so that it wasn't a promise.

I said I was certain.

I *HOPE* you come out better, and I am sure you will, but there are no guarantees in life; other than that final thing and we don't need to drag that into this at all.
It's grim enough without it.

XO
Scarlett & Viaggiatore

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Scarlett,

Oh, that helps so much. Especially "that final thing," which is very much on my mind lately.

Grimly,
HISF

Nick said...

That tooth fairy is rather gorgeous - you don't have her phone number by any chance?

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Nick,

Did Jenny give you a hall pass, then?

I didn't think so.

Sienna said...

Hey I am back!

I have some books and info for you, will get them off asap.

So sorry to hear impending wisssouts.

My brother had his out a couple of months ago and all went well. He is so glad he had it done, they, (wisdom teeth), were driving him crazy. Infections and pain-all gone. May your surgery go well too.

I saw dolphins, whales, crocodiles, colored coral reef, a million types of fish, turtles, dugongs, sharks...I swam and snorkelled and dived.

I walked, then swam in the oldest rockpool in the oldest rainforest in the world. I saw a plant that has not changed one little bit since dinosaurs existed with it.

I climbed sand hills on the biggest sand island in the world, (Fraser Island)...until my lungs nearly burst.

I have a million photos that do not do justice to the beauty of the things I saw. We met such wonderful people, and had so much fun.

Check out pamslife.com she is the other Pam, (who with Carol, her daughter), visited QLD with me. She is writing it up on her blog in pieces..she captures the feeling well.

I am sending you some info on Queensland. Just something to look through, read up on and have a think about. Part of your soul is Australian, I am sure of it, Great Barrier Reef and rainforest and islands....it is everything and more...pretty well protected and still undamaged.

Pam

katrice said...

I'm in denial about needing mine out as well. If I'm going to be unable to eat for more than two hours, I'm going to have to be sedated.

Not eating is the scariest part to me.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Pam,

I would have loved to be there and do all those things with you, but seeing your pictures will be the next best thing.

Australia does sound like a veritable paradise. I love seashore, sand dunes, rainforest and wildlife, both animal and vegetable, and have always been intrigued by the fact that many species of both do not exist anywhere else on earth.

I look forward to reading the material you're sending, and am so touched that you thought of me. Thank you so very much!!

Katrice,

I hate fasting for any reason. It makes me hungry. That's not my biggest fear, though. I am more afraid that pain will make me helpless and unable to do for myself.

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

Why is that on your mind of late? This is the wrong medical procedure to be worried about that.

Take up a hobby... put something else in your mind.


How was the chocolate festival?
Please tell me you went...

;o)


Scarlett & Viaggiatore

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Scarlett,

The Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival is next weekend, Sept. 6-7. I will try hard to be there.

Maybe worrying IS my hobby. Did that ever occur to you? I supposed it's because of the psychic prophesy that this would be my last year. It kind of heightens the worry potential of everything. :(

ProudMary said...

Flip being happy at you not talking made me smile. You described that look well!

You will be just fine... lots of people get this done all the time, and it means nothing other than they've gotten all the wisdom they can out of those teeth.
love you.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Mary,

Well, I guess we'll find out how much wisdom they actually supplied, and if it's permanently installed or continually transmitted like a radio signal.

Flip thinks I talk too much. Can you imagine?

Love YOU, too!!!