The Wisdom of Teeth: Part III

Posted by Job O Brother, July 27, 2009 11:54am | Post a Comment

America's Next Top Model

Hello, everybody. Today is my second full day without Vicodin, and my first full week without my bottom two wisdom teeth. (The surgeon decided, after slicing my upper gums, that the teeth there could and should stay put, leading me to ask, what did he see in there that wasn't on the x-ray that changed his mind? Did my upper teeth have protection from the Insane Popes?)

As my legions of readers know, I was excited to realize my life-long dream of being put under general anesthesia; I’m happy to report that I was not disappointed.

I was led into the operating room – a tiny, square space, entirely colored in the lightest shade of grey and almost exactly what I picture when I contemplate what Hell might look like, though without the constant re-looping of “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay” piped in, which I have decided will be the soundtrack to my eternal damnation.
I relaxed back into the chair and the surgeon and his nurse went to work prepping the scene. I stared at the fluorescent lighting, noting that sticker tags were still inside the fixtures, which struck me – I imagined that, if I were to have an office building of my very own, I wouldn’t want ugly manufacturing stickers glued willy-nilly over my establishment. Did these practitioners of dental artistry have no pride? Or were they so focused on peering into dark depths of mucosal tissue and alveolar bones that they never thought to cast their gaze upwards into the blinding brilliance of tubes of excited mercury vapor that adorned their ceiling and lit their paths? I mean, you guys – kind of tacky, okay?

From there I went on to consider how much nicer it would be if they had stuck some lovely picture on the ceiling for me to look at as I wait. I remembered a friend of mine – I don’t want to reveal her name, so we’ll call her President Abraham Lincoln – when a friend of mine, President Abraham Lincoln, went in for an abortion; she said that while she laid on the table, awaiting the operation, there was a colorful picture on the ceiling for her to focus on. I don’t recall what it was – something soothing like an old barn in Vermont, a kitten with a ball of yarn, or Jeff Stryker on the set of Stryker Force – something one could meditate on and forget what’s about to happen. Oh well, I figured, I wouldn’t be looking at the ceiling for long.

There now - Don't you just feel the tension in your shoulders dropping?

They tied my upper-arm off and the same thing happened that always happens when a doctor does this to me. I pictured Debbie Harry as seen on the cover of the Blondie album Parallel Lines. Without fail, when faced with this image, my eyes go right to that white armband she’s wearing. It looks so uncomfortable to me! And so, by product of association, the one thing I’m guaranteed to think of when I’m about to have my arm punctured with a syringe is Debbie Harry. And maybe a few bars of 11:59.

Post-injection, my memory is brief. I wasn’t asked to count down or anything. All the stories I’d heard had prepared me to perform some kind of trick – much like a cop puts you through when testing you for driving drunk: say the alphabet backwards, name the presidents of the United States, recite the six books of the Masnavi by Mawlānā Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Balkhī in their original Persian, etc.

None of that – I got the injection and waited. I waited as the surgeon and nurse continued to bustle and fuss, waited to become enveloped in inky blackness. Then, after about five minutes of waiting, they told me they were done.

Huh? Done?

And they were! What was five minutes of idle waiting for me was in actuality an hour of surgery. The magic of anesthesia had allowed me to time travel. I didn’t even notice the journey. So cool! I understand now why, sometimes, Kings of Pop would abuse the science for some quick R&R. Heck, if I had constant access to it, who’s to say I wouldn’t just knock myself out in-between the time it takes for the next season of Lost to be released on Blu-Ray? The convenience is just too seductive!

The next few days were spent lounging on my sofa, hopped-up on Vicodin, watching cooking shows in lieu of eating, which was too painful. I also took the opportunity of being on pain-killers to stop drinking coffee and Diet Coke, thus escaping the caffeine headache.

I’m doing well now. It still hurts to yawn – only on my right side where the sideways tooth had to be extracted, and I’m none too keen on crunchy foods just yet, so I’m having my hummus without chips and my oatmeal without freeze-dried chicken bones.

Thanks for taking this journey of discovery with me. Oh! Someone asked me if I got to keep my lost teeth, and the answer is no. If you see them on e-Bay, tell me! Also if you see a copy of The Metrics are Coming by Janeen Brady on CD or LP, I want that, too!

The Wisdom of Teeth: Part I

Posted by Job O Brother, July 19, 2009 06:24pm | Post a Comment

Yours truly, smiling as big as possible.
(Note the janky wisdom tooth on the bottom right!)

It’s kinda Christmas Eve-y to me today. Why? Because tomorrow I get to go to the oral surgeon and have all four of my wisdom teeth pulled out!

Granted, most people don’t get excited by this prospect, but tomorrow will see me living out a life-long dream of mine: to be put under general anesthesia.

Ever since I was a kid, I thought it was so cool and mysterious that one could be knocked completely unconscious, and longed for the experience. Sadly, and to my continual chagrin, I have lived my life with no real medical emergencies whatsoever. I got my first cavity this year, I’ve never broken a bone – nothing. I did once get appendicitis, but – and to the astonishment of my physician – I somehow “got better” before I got a chance to be cut open.

(I did once cut into my thigh with a chainsaw, but I just put a bandage on it and popped some dog tranquilizers my brother-in-law had on hand.)

So, while I am a little nervous about spending the money to have this procedure done, the actual operation itself is pretty thrilling. Just think – tomorrow, at a little after ten o’clock, my consciousness will be disappeared, and then, about an hour later, I will return, like Lazarus from the grave; a grave with cheap wallpaper, fluorescent lighting and awful smooth jazz piped in, but a resurrection nonetheless!

I will be returning to you tomorrow, post-operation, to blog about the experience. Stay tuned!