Sunday, March 27, 2011

3 more teeth gone, and appointment number 8!

Last Tuesday the 22nd would mark my eighth appointment in Mesa and my last day with teeth 17, 18 and 19. I think I impressed the latest oral surgery student Trent that Rakhee would be assisting early on by actually knowing them by number. It had been a little longer of a wait after the frequency of past visits with the school being out for spring break, and though there was lots of new stuff to talk about, I think my energy felt a little bit off. This was all really happening. It was kind of hard to believe that after today I would have virtually all of my back teeth out. With only a few premolars and canines left, today would mark a commitment to pudding and overcooked macaroni and cheese, blended soups, smoothies and ice creams far into the future, the end of which I could not say. Though it was very hard for me to try to chew many things with broken crowns before, it is a much different story when there is no tooth there at all. It has been interesting, as the weeks have passed, to become more and more aware of the teeth that I do still have, feeling them touch in ways they never did before. It doesn't really make a lot of sense to me, because the rest of my broken teeth could have never really touched before them much in the first place, but I nonetheless can feel  their presence with each bite in a way I never have before. Perhaps it is their way of calling out to remind me as the rest of the walls are being knocked down, that they are still there. A reminder, that I have a strong foundation of canines still intact to act as anchors for the new structure yet to come?
They prepped me as has become the ritual for the past several appointments now sign on the line and I lean back to let the shots begin, noticing that this time there was no coconut-flavored topical agent as Rakhee customarily administers before pricking me. (Are you reading this, Trent?) He defended with an, "actually, a topical only reached a depth of 2 milimeters whereas the needle enters much deeper, yadda-yaddah-yadda" but I think we ALL know that upon the initial entrance of the needles, perhaps especially if puncturing infected tissue such as mine, that however small it is, I promise you that the artificial taste of coconut, strawberry or even if it tasted like Peridex, trust me when I tell you it makes a difference. This was the first time that I have felt a needle in four appointments, dear Trent. Just saying :-)
Okay, so...sparing you the graphic details...this visit...was really hard. Rakhee confided early on that she had apparently saved me the best for last (?) informing me that this quadrant was in fact the most infected of all. All I could think was, that's funny, how the hell could you tell? It all looked the same to me. As Trent's magic memory would inform me again, the infection apparently changes the ph in my body making it harder for me to get numb, and though what I felt was a far cry from not being numb at all, I was surprised over and over to feel ______ when the drill would sneak around the corner and ring my bell. Though I think my pain tolerance is much higher than most, I will be the first to admit that I often flinch a little at the first twinge of surprise discomfort. I get that from my Grandmother, who would always stub her toe or cut herself and yell "Ow, bitch!" at some inanimate object before even realizing if she had pain, I think. Though I jump at times, it is hard for me to backtrack in the moment and realize what just happened, but I think that for the most part that day, that it was indeed pain.

A few more shots and some continued cutting to separate the two roots of my rear left wisdom tooth, #17, the first piece finally came free. As Rakhee and Trent's hands full of tools played what seemed like a losing game of Twister in my mouth for several minutes, the other half finally broke free as I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and lay in waiting for the next round. Showing me the X-ray, Trent pointed out why this tooth was so stuck in my mouth, its roots curving together to touch at the bottom around bone, instead of growing straight.

The worst of it I hoped finally over, I chose to try to distract myself by taking pictures, taking a break from my usual focal point of the overhead Peyton & Crane logo on the lightbulb, or the sprinkler nozzle in the ceiling. I am particularly amazed by this composition on my second try:
Trent and Rakhee headbutting. Hey, what're you guys looking at?

As they tagged each other out and Rakhee got the chance to wrestle again with the remaining evil team of 18 and 19 in my mouth with tools I still have not quite memorized the numbers of, (though for the record, I know and HATE the infamous "Minnesota" and I think it has quickly become to my mouth what a whisper of "speculum" provokes amongst women everywhere!) she asked a nearby doctor if she minded taking a few more pictures.
Seriously, am I right, people? Is this Twister, or what? Right hand suction on #17! Left hand pokey proddy thing...oh, dental humor. You guys are going to get sooo tired of me!

God, I look so serious. You would think I had a mullet and there was Nascar on the ceiling or something.

Okay, after two hours I get kinda giddy. Luckily my dentists and I have learned a secret language or grunts and gurgles despite having a bite-block in. Seriously though, I think Rakhee is starting to get it down. Ugh" once means pull this gauze trap out before I gag and cough blood at your masks and earn you another "Contaminated" sticker and "Is your nose itchy?" jokes among your colleagues. (Haha.) "Ugh" twice means my lips are not numb, and get offended when you forget about them and their ability to still be pinched between numerous tools and hurt!" No "ughs" means...well. "OWWW! Hold your breath, Paul. You are the Zen Master. You are one more tooth away from Enlightenment. Hang in there..."

Moneyshot, moneyshot! Save this one for your portfolios, guys. Feel free to Photoshop out that bug-eyed ass look on my face. Good lord.

More little bloody angry bits of the old Paul, in the trash. Soon to be replaced by titanium Terminator teeth! Boo-yah! (Yeah...I never say boo-yah. Fooled ya, people who don't know me. Haha.)

Take a bow, guys. You, are my heroes of the day.
I'm gonna cut it short and let the pictures tell the story for this day, but I will add that today's stitches SUCKED! I guess it was because the surrounding tissue was so infected (?) but strangely enough it was among the worst sensations felt thus far, and generally it is not too bad. Different technique? Idunno, but I would have rather got two more #17s out than endure those stitches again. It felt like the first time I was truly sweating in the chair. Remind me to go watch that scene in First Blood again where my childhood hero Rambo stitches up his own arm after jumping off a cliff into an evergreen forest to psych myself up, I guess.

I left that day paying for all three extractions with the money from my dinner party, and scheduling my next three appointments for April, which I currently put down enough credit from Paypal donations (mostly) and my own money to also pay for, and more. I got antibiotics this time and may be switching gears to do some fillings and stuff before yanking my front four. I am humbled to look back to only two months ago and realize how much has happened, how much every aspect of my life has changed and continues to change, how differently people have been treating me, and how moved I am to have ventured so far on this new journey so quickly with Rakhee's and all of your support. Thank you all so much for reading and continuing to spread the word. I hope my ramblings can continue to be interesting and inspire others to take care of themselves as well, and ask for help. Thank you.


  1. i LOVE how you made a reference to the contaminated stickers! the oral surgeon will get a kick out of this. reading these blogs is so inspirational-- don't even know what is going on in your head during the procedures until i read this (in reference to you staring at Pelton & Crane on the light, which I never even knew existed!)

  2. Are you kidding, that sticker cracked me the hell up and is one of my favorite silly memories from all my visits, everyone picking on you not realizing you somehow got my blood on you nose and then you coming back with that crazy sticker, which I totally want to get some of! I should add them to raffle baskets at future fundraisers or something :-)
    Haha, oh, you know most things going on in my head, you are not in the dark by any means when I'm in the chair. It's just hard to get everything out in my metaphorical and elaborate way during my few seconds here and there I haven't been full of your tools of had a bite block in.
    I ALWAYS zone out and stare and that light for such long periods of time, then I snap out of it and am like, WTF, why do I keep staring at that light?! Kinda like how I forget to breathe or never know where my damn tongue is. Haha.
    I guess you will just have to be excited and surprised to read the blog each time and see how I "REALLY" feel. :-) Thanks for commenting!

  3. HA- I always stare at the light when I see the dentist! Good ol' Pelton & Crane. It's mesmerizing, somehow...

  4. Oh gosh, that looks so painful. Are you okay now? Man, you are the gnarliest guy ever. You took it all and spit it out. And that "contaminated sticker" cracked me up, hehe.