Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Stupid Wisdom Teeth

I just had two wisdom teeth extracted. I thought it would be three (I had my upper left pulled a few years ago), but my upper right wisdom just never came in, which I find a little disconcerting given the symmetry our DNA is supposed to code for. Intelligent Design indeed. I'm biting down on a gauze strip now, my lower jaw still numb, and so verbal communication is impaired, though not entirely impossible. This, writing, is much preferable, however. It makes one appreciate lucid thinking all the more.

The injection into my jaw gave me some initial pain in my ear, apparently because the nerve loops around there. When I started to go numb I began to feel an itching on my chin that no amount of scratching, short of maybe ripping off my skin, could satisfy. I needed another shot because of some extra sensitivity in the back of my jaw. This we found out by my groans when the dentist pressured and jiggled my teeth.

We had started on the left wisdom, but it proved troublesome and so the dentist "gave me a break" by working on the right. It was a straightforward affair, as far as these things go. It neither took very long, nor provided any memorable complications. The left, however, continued to be an incorrigible sonofabitch. The dentist, having loosed the tooth from its gummy moorings, attempted to pull it out in the normal fashion. It refused cooperation, however. The dentist brought up the possibility of surgical removal, but only to say he wanted to avoid doing that. Instead he got out the drill, in order to score it and split it and remove the pieces.

The experience of all this was not brutally painful, not all the time anyway, but for one who's lived as sheltered a life as I, it was probably the most pain I've ever been in, and it was enough to make me reflect on how cruel Dr. Mengele really was. Additionally, much of my anguish was not physical, but psychological: every crack and pop, scrape and grind I heard not only externally--a sound wave vibration that entered my ears--but also reverberating inside my head, prompting me to wince and yelp with every unpleasant development, regardless of the actual pain it was causing.

"This will give you something to write about," the dentist said during the procedure. I grunted assent. "You know, I saw Little Shop of Horrors before it went to Broadway, way back in the day."

After a particularly loud crack I babbled, "I' ih ovah?" It wasn't. That had only been the crown. The rest of it was soon to follow, and on its removal the issue was apparent: the root of the tooth was curved, and had been hooking into my jaw whenever it was being pulled out. After biting down on some gauze pads I was good to go.

My lower jaw will be numb for at least a couple more hours. In the meantime my lip feels fat, my swallowing is weak and cautious (don't want to upset those blood clots). I open and close my mouth periodically, like a fish. I feel old. Pressing around my ear, where numbness and feeling mingle, produces an odd, unwanted, sensation. My stomach feels just the slightest bit queasy, perhaps because of swallowing some blood, perhaps because I let myself be way too sensitive to these things.

I have a few days off from work, during which I'm going to take the downtime to watch Apocalypse Now and Dolomite, continue reading Dostoyevsky's Notes From Underground, and write, if I can focus. Maybe play some video games, which I seem to have little time for these days. When I had my first wisdom tooth pulled I watched the Lord of the Rings trilogy extended edition in its entirety, back to back, while working out the entire arc of a cartoon I was doing for my school newspaper. This is a good occasion for large undertakings.

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