Getting your wisdom teeth extracted is the worst decision you will ever make.
Before my counseling gig I was a server. And, before Obamacare, as many people in the service industry know, health insurance was not really an option. I always worked in smaller, locally owned establishments and many small businesses do not offer health care. So, for many years I sucked it up. If I had a panic attack I would cry, go to the liquor store, cry some more, sleep, call in sick, go back to the liquor store, and then sleep some more until it passed. If I had a toothache I would cry, go to the liquor store, cry some more, sleep, call in sick… You get the point
You will be happy to know that I no longer drink. Not because I had a “come to Jesus moment” but because I now have health insurance and I can’t afford to go to the liquor store. My big fancy counseling job got me some big fancy benefits. Now I regularly treat my mood disorder and hypochondria with monthly trips to the general practitioner. I’m serious. And, I’ve even been lucky enough to go to the dentist, not once, but five times in the last month and a half! I’m serious.
I’m in hell. And I have “good teeth,” so they tell me. Although, I honestly think they just tell me that because they know I’m neurotic. Right after they slowly lean back the chair and before the “Open, Please,” I apologize and list off what I had for breakfast in case I missed anything during my brush, floss, rinse, repeat.
With enthusiasm over now having dental insurance and a significantly lower quote on teeth extraction, I had my wisdom teeth removed five days before Christmas. Which, I’m an eater so scheduling that appointment five days before the best meal of the year was not a smart plan. I suffered through the first five-day of Jell-O pudding and mashed potatoes but you better believe on Christmas day I was the first one in line for Dad’s rare roast beast.
I think I maybe ate too soon. I was in pain for about 2 weeks and finally had to talk the doctor into seeing me for a follow-up appointment. I called the office three times during Christmas break, explained my symptoms, and every time they just kept re-prescribing hydrocodone and told me to take 600 MG of ibuprofen every six hours. Finally, on January 3rd, I went back. The doctor took a look in my mouth said: “Oh yeah, you have dry socket,” took a wad full of this stringy substance coated in clove and stuffed it down into my sockets. I was on my way in less than ten minutes.
The pain went away after about a week. The stringy substance, however, seemed to remain in my socket. Up until probably three weeks ago, every time I brushed my teeth I would see strands of clove in the bottom of the sink. I thought it was quite odd that it was still falling out after nearly a month.
So two weeks ago Thursday I wake up bright and early and I can tell something is wrong. The lower right side of my mouth is swollen. There is a ball in my jaw the size of a walnut and I cannot open my mouth all the way. So, me, the hypochondriac, make an appointment with my regular dentist to see if there is something wrong. She takes a look and tells me she’s “not 100% sure of what it is” and sets up an appointment with their in-house orthodontist. I went to a different orthodontist for the extraction because at the time I was under a different insurance that expired on Dec 31st and I wasn’t eligible for their in-house orthodontist.
So, Friday rolls around and I consider canceling because I’m not really in pain like I was before and I feel guilty leaving work yet again for another dentist appointment. I go anyways. The dental assistant calls me back and before I even sit in the chair I say to him: “So, I’m neurotic, I don’t want to waste your time, I’m not in pain today and I’m probably fine, but I kept the appointment because I figured you’re going to charge me anyways.” He just stared at me for a second and said “Um, uh, um. I’ll be right back.” Poor thing was working his first solo shift without his trainer and he gets me at 10am. I hear him talking to another nurse in the hall and she says in a loud whisper: “Then what is she even doing here?” I can hear her eyes rolling.
She follows him back into the room and asks me why I’m there. I give her the rundown. She tells me the doctor will look at me anyways and if it’s nothing, they’ll send me on my way. Twenty minutes and three Candy Crush levels later the orthodontist walks into the room.
Now, this is very important ladies… He’s a total babe. I thanked myself for applying extra mascara, using bronzer and brushing my teeth in the lobby bathroom when I got there. He’s about 6’2”, tall, thinnish but in a—he works out when he’s not driving around downtown in his Audi and taking his perfect girlfriend to her choice of Rom Com right after dinner at the Cheesecake Factory—kind of way. Things got very serious, very fast. I turned funny, blunt, sarcastic Kim off and turned sweet, polite, patient Kim on.
So he comes in, takes a look at a few things and tells me that I have an infection and that it’s not treatable with just antibiotics because there is a risk for chronic infection that may cause other problems. $210 dollars later, he’s numbing and then slicing open my gums as I stare into his headlamp. I realize now why I paid $800 for the anesthesia the first time around. While he’s digging around in my socket and his assistant is slurping up blood and puss and broken off bits of bone, I kid you not, he asks: “Whoever did your surgery, did they put anything in your sockets?” He lets me gargle a quick “Uh huh” and then says: “Yeah, it looks like there is some strands of clove that didn’t dissolve and caused the infection. This should take care of it.”
THE FUCKING CLOVE. The magical healing substance that was supposed to make everything right in the world has ruined the last month and a half of my life and who knows for how many days, weeks or months longer. The fucking clove. I’m still in a pretty fair amount of pain with no end in sight. It’s causing mild ear pain as well. But that may just be the hypochondria. I’m incredibly frustrated with this whole process and highly recommend that you stay away from the dentist unless it’s your biannual cleaning.