Welcome butches, dykes, queers, dandies, and dolls, to day two of my great conquest of wisdom teeth removal (there’s really no other medical term for that?), and the days following it. In my first post, Dyke At the Dentist, linked at the bottom of the screen, I explain the history of my wisdom teeth over the years, and yesterday I had an appointment scheduled to have them removed. This is a follow-up post of how everything went. I’m thinking of making this a subject with multiple parts, because the man that performed the surgery told me to expect at least a week’s worth of strict diet, medicine, and an entire paper of other things I’m not allowed to do while recovering. My appointment was as 1:30, and I had shown up at exactly 1:22, figuring that I should rather be just early enough instead of running through the entrance thirty seconds before I’m to be called in. I head to the check-in desk, fill out some paperwork, and sit down in one of the twelve leather upholstery chairs. Underdog is playing on the mini flatscreen TV attached to the wall, but almost the entire waiting room is filled with people in the thirty-to-fage group. I’m sitting next to the table holding a few magazines, most of them with the perfume samples violently ripped out of them, including a few entire pages, and their plastic “protection” covers laying separately. I look over at my sister, Megan. She’s playing a matching game on the tablet she brought with her. My mom and I joke around, talking at what furniture the kittens at home have probably gotten into while we’re gone, and commenting that the star of the movie, the beagle superhero Underdog, looks uncannily like our own beagle, Shyler, at home.
At 1:28, a thin woman wearing blue-or were they purple?-scrubs and a medical mask walks out of one of the large doors next to the check-in desk and calls my name. I stand up, my heartbeat picking up significantly, and follow her down the hallway to my room. On the way, the symphony of dentist drills echoes in my ears, along with the soothing voices of the dentists to go with them. We enter a small but airy room, and she instructs me to sit down on the long, leather lounge chair. I was expecting the usual wax paper to be taped on the surface of the chair, similar to what a doctor would have on their examining table. This time, however, the wax paper was nowhere to be found. Instead, some clear plastic of what looked like Saran Wrap covered only the head of the chair. This proved to be a problem as soon as I sat down, because that damn plastic stuck to my upper back and shoulders, clinging like hell any time I tried to shuffle around and change positions.
As the woman typed on her computer for what seemed like hours, filling in my information, she asked me what I was here for. I told her that I had scheduled myself for wisdom teeth removal surgery, which she responded to with a nod and asked me if I was in any significant pain or had ever done drugs of heavily smoked previously in my life. She was met with an arched eyebrow, a classic move of mine, and a firm “no.” After a minute, I gave her my name, phone number, and age, then was asked if I had used any Tylonol or other medication before I came in, or had ever had a bad reaction to them. Again, she got a “no” from me. All of this took about twenty minutes, and the woman instructed me to stand up and follow her to a private room for a 360 x-ray screening. As we walked down another hallway, she asked if I had any x-rays of my own with me. I joked “No one asked me to bring any.” It wasn’t received with a humorous smile, and I realized a minute later that she meant if I had any x-rays already in the system that she could access. You can’t win ’em all, Dykey…
The x-ray machine itself consisted of a seven-foot plastic stand attached to the wall and a semicircle of more plastic that moved up and down, depending on your height, and moved at a snail’s pace. It looked pretty expensive, though, so I guess you can’t rush that sort of thing. Here’s a picture of what I’m talking about, in case my visuals aren’t doing anything for you:
Here’s a picture of this baby in action:
After donning your attractive magnetic protective vest, you are instructed to stand directly under the semicircle with your feet together, and push your head forward until the temple-aligning clip slides into place on your forehead. This stops your head from moving around accidently so the pictures can be as clear as possible. You grip onto the handlebars at chest-level and you are met with a bright orange (in my case) plastic piece with grooves for your front and bottom teeth to fit into. With the press of a button, the machine turns on and the semicircle hovers around your head, taking pictures of every side of your head. A loud beep signals that the x-ray is finished, and you are free to go back into your room and sit down on the Saran-Wrapped chair.
The woman stayed in the x-ray room for a moment before going into a small corridor with a computer. Luckily, I had gbeen given the room closest to it, so I could turn around and see what was going on. A man and another woman join her, and I can hear them discussing what needs to be done, which room, what tools. A minute later, the woman comes back and tells me that we need to move to yet another room, because the room I was already in was not prepped for surgical procedures. I was confused at this point, because during the phone call yesterday when I was scheduling the appointment, the person at the desk had told me that I wouldn’t able to have the surgery here, but instead would have to go to another dental office in Raleigh, which is an hour-long trip from my dental office. Now I’m being told that the surgery can be done here?
Sounds like bonus points to me!
She calls in the head dentist, a tall man wearing a doctor’s white coat and a neon-green skull and crossbones bandana-thing on his head. He gives me a big smile, clearly proud of all the dental work done on his own pearly-whites, and greets me with a handshake. More butch points for me! He asks me how I’m doing and what we’ll be working on today. I give him the same story that I gave the woman, and he nods enthusiastically. “Yeah, we can definitely get that taken care of today,” he says, still smiling. The woman, who I’m guessing will be his assistant, opens a drawer next to me and starts taking out various dental instruments wrapped in blue sanitary paper and arranges them on the table behind my head. With the press of a button, I’m bibbed and lying flat on my back. I’m instructed to open my mouth as wide as possible (Oy vey) and the work begins.
I don’t know if you remember the first sounds of dental tools picking at your teeth, but I bet you remember the chills that went down your spine at the first whirr of a drill burying into your molars, or the way you cringed in your chair when the dentist began to scrape the excess junk off of your teeth, telling you to say when it starts to hurt. It was all of that rolled into one with this visit. The feeling of several pinlike needles injecting a numbing serum into my gums felt more like gouging a rusty nail into my jaw instead of the “pressure” that the dentist was telling me I would feel.
Sucking up my dignity, I clenched my fists and closed my eyes tightly, forcing myself to ignore the pain spreading over the surface of my mouth. As the numbing agents went to work, my face began to feel less like my own skin and more like a special effects prosthetic attached to my face with too much glue. My cheeks and jaw were poked and nudged gently by the dentists fingers, asking if there were any place where the numbness didn’t reach. Five more shots later, my face was numb up to the bridge of my nose, and my tongue felt like a slug that had gotten stuck in my mouth and was squirming on its own accord.
I wasn’t given a mirror of any type, nor could I catch any reflections in the glasses that the dentist was wearing, so it was difficult to know exactly what was going on. Especially since my face felt like a balloon full of cotton balls. The shots seemed to have done a pretty damn good job, because I could barely feel the dental pliars tugging away at my fangs. However, because I was so numb, I couldn’t tell when my mouth was opened or closed, and the dentist made me very aware of this by asking me to open wider, over and over again. After twenty minutes of this, the assistant finally just gives me a bite-guard to hold my mouth open without straining my jaw.
I laid back on that dentist chair, trying to get my mind to drift away and ignore all of the pressure that was building inside of my mouth from the multiple tools working on my teeth. I was informed that my bottom left tooth was giving them the most trouble, and the man went through five different tools to find the one that would work the best and the quickest. Two or three hours later, the wisdom teeth on the left side of my mouth were gone for good. The right side was significantly more painful, though I couldn’t place why, because they had the same amount of give as the left. Regardless, I tightened my hands up and bit down on that bite-guard like no tomorrow, refusing to take a ten-minute break between sessions like the dentist had offered. I couldn’t think of the last time I had ever felt or tasted so much blood in my mouth…
Finally, at long last, the deed was done. My mouth was packed with cotton and I was handed a Ziploc of even more cotton swatches. The man handed me a form that listed all of the things I could and couldn’t do while I was recovering. A couple of questions later, I was allowed to go back into the waiting room to meet up with my mom and sister. To my surprise, the waiting room was empty except for two of them, when just earlier it was packed. We went out to the car and I glanced at the clock on the dashboard. 6:30?? Here I was thinking that the surgery had only taken half an hour, maybe an hour tops. But almost five hours? Whew, how’s that for toughness?
The numbing lasted the length of the car ride home, and despite being told to clamp my jaw tightly as to keep the gauze in place, I couldn’t help but talk nonstop the entire trip. Dykey’s got just so much to say! When we got home, the novacaine seemed to wear off immediately, and I was struck with a blinding pain in my jaw. It felt as if someone had taken a sledgehammer and a chisel and taken carving lessons on my jawbone. I was stuck lying on the couch with an icepack pressed to my cheek for the 45 minutes it took my mom to pick up my prescription for Percocet.
The pain had gotten so bad that I couldn’t open my mouth, and the pills had to be crushed into a powder and stirred into applesauce so I could swallow them. I wish I had taken some pictures during that moment, because it was quite the situation.
The Percocet worked scary-fast, and before I knew it, I was passed out on my bed, curled up under the covers like a butchy bed-bug. Six hours later, another pill had to be taken and gauze had to be changed, and here I am blogging away. I guess the urge to blog this milestone in my life overrode the effects of the medication. I hope that I didn’t offend any of you readers that work in the dental department, or any health department, at that. You guys and gals do great work, and I appreciate what your buddies did for me. I’ll pass the word around (:
I will be taking another pill around six AM, so for now I think I’ll finally get some rest. Goodnight, lesbigays, butches, and queers alike. Be on the lookout for my next post, and remember to stay gay, my friends.
PS, bonus kitten picture:
-Sara, aka The Dyke