Sunday, March 6, 2011

How quickly can I write about my 10 mostly surgical extractions in 13 days?

I want this to be fun and uplifting for you after all, and not like reading the script of Saw VI or something, right? Well, maybe you can kinda have both. Well, it's March 6th now, and beginning February 17th, I have had one appointment of extractions for the last 3 weeks. How can I be brief?
 Okay, so I am surprised to know that some people seem to not know that they generally have 32 teeth as an adult. In discussing them at the dentist, they refer to them by number, 1-16 beginning on your back right, across the front to back left, and then directly below to 17 and back to the bottom right wisdom tooth to 32. To help this make a little more sense perhaps, Here is a picture of the fancy Dentrix Program diagram of my treatment plan as modified after my first 3 extractions:
The ones with the lines through them are all set to be removed. It is all somewhat of a Vicodin blur now so I am only going to report the basics. That first day for 30, 31 and 32, my bottom right rear molars, the surgery was done by Tyler with Rakhee assisting. It was probably 2 of the longest hours of my life, much of which I longed really intensely for music or any sort of distraction, though I don't think it would have helped. It was hard for me to remember to breath. I kept sorta zoning out and staring into the lights or focusing on a spot on the ceiling tile, trying to count and control my breaths, but had a really hard time. Between the urge to gag from blood, my throat feeling dry and wanting to cough, yet trying to hold as still as possible it was hard to find any sort of calm thought to meditate on with the violence being done to my mouth, even if I couldn't really feel it. My broken teeth with their long roots proved hard to get a grip on, and hard to reach. Though my mouth may have been numb beyond feeling, the muscles in my jaw were most certainly not, and there were times it felt like my jaw might be torn clean off my skull to me! Imagine yourself trying to do pull-ups, being halfway up, but then someone pulling on your legs. I am sure I have a weak jaw to begin with, having not chewed hard foods for years, so to force constant resistance against the pliers in Tyler's grip with more strength than my jaw really had felt more exhausting than any workout I have probably ever endured. It was like trying to pedal my bike up the hills of the California coast again, but with my mouth. Imagine THAT crazy bike!

When it was finally over, I presented Rakhee with a tooth-shaped card that I had made that morning, anxiously wishing there was time for her to read it right then, excited to express my gratitude with something a little more personal than cookies:

I left that day glad when it was finally over and I could just close my mouth again, heading back to Phoenix in rush hour traffic with Robyn to fill my Vicodin prescription. This however, would prove difficult, as my numbness wore off a little quicker than planned as I paced around Walgreens nauseous, dizzy, and feeling like I was going to pass out for a half an hour. In retrospect I feel that most of that was because I didn't really find time to eat much that day before my appointment. I chugged a protein shake and changed my disgusting mouthful of gauze and went back inside to sit down. I think I got my meds and checked out just in time, stopping at the store to buy an assortment of pudding and soup and smoothie-making materials before I went home to relax.

On February 25th for my 6th appointment I went back to have 3 teeth on the upper right removed. I did not, however, realize that Rakhee for the first time would not be there. It was strange, noticing that my blood pressure was actually lower than usual (and more normal) I wondered if each time before I was not actually "nervous," but excited to begin. With the new guy Ky this time, I was sad that she would miss out on the day's treatment and being formally introduced to 3 more broken old guys hiding in the back of my mouth, about to finally be thrown out of the party.
This day, was a different kind of pain. Although I had 5 shots, it seemed today hurt a lot more than last time. Instead of the jaw-stretching feeling, it was more like my mouth was going to be tore open! As most people know, I seem to have stretchier skin than most anyone, but around my mouth, that certainly does not seem to be the case. These teeth were also infected and that unfortunately makes it harder to get numb, though luckily, these 3 came out in almost half the time as the last appointment.

March 2nd I just had 4 more out, one by another new student, Chase, and 3 by Rakhee on the upper left side. Though still not really feeling much "easier," these extractions went the quickest yet, and it left us more time to catch up on the status of everything than usual. I appear to be healing well, with all going according to the plan. I had been a little intimidated, having left a message with Rakhee with the blog address, a little intimidated to bombard her or anyone unsuspecting with my intensely honest writing style, let alone, much of which was about them. Haha. But from the moment I walked in that day she put my mind at ease and in fact loved my card and all my writing and even shared it with her parents. It was a really connecting day and I left once again, feeling endless gratitude for how our lives have come together in this unique and courageous partnership for the next several months of adventures. I am continually excited for us in a way I have never felt excited before, and each new appointment is a giant healing step for me, that I know would not be remotely the same if I had been going to Mexico or something.
I took some pictures that day of the battleground 4 hands fought upon with an endless array of weapons that day in my mouth. Here is the before and after:

Ten down, 7 more to go! Next appointment is on Friday the 11th before the school goes on Spring Break. I'm hoping I can have enough money between work and donations and squeeze in enough appointments to cover all my extractions and fix the teeth that I have this month. I think I maybe, just maybe, may be able to just squeak by if I can earn enough money from fund-raising to be able to maybe have 4 new front teeth by early summer. I can't even imagine that day...

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