“So Maddie, are you ready to get rid of those old wisdom teeth?” The smiling dentist asked November 14th, as he prodded the back of my mouth with that little metal hook that they scrape on your molars. “Wisdom teeth?” I tried to say, but my mouth was far to full of fingers and instruments so I garbled something more on the lines of, “Whissow eeh?” “Yep!” The dentist said as he glanced back at the x-ray of my teeth that was posted on the computer, “Looks like you got four of them… all impacted too!” “Thoey nee fig eh demoo?” I asked, trying to say “Do I need to get them removed?”
The dentist laughed as he stuck a tiny power-drill in my mouth that smoked like a bonfire as it made contact with my molars. “Well, you’re what, 16 now? I’d say it’s the perfect time to get rid of them, now when you’re young and can heal easy. Now spit.” I obliged to the command to expectorate and wiped my drooling mouth with the paper apron pinned round my neck. I glanced at the x-ray of my mouth on the wall, seeing the dentist point with a rubber-gloved finger to the four small pieces of bone lodged deep in the flesh of my gums. “It’ll only take 45 minutes max, and once you get them done you won’t have to worry about getting them out when your older and they start to hurt you.” The dentist said. “Most kids say they’re glad to get it over with.”
That is how my father and I ended up walking into the oral surgeon’s office one icy January 3rd afternoon to get several of my mouth bones ripped out of my tender flesh. They took me into the operating room, which looked like a normal dentist’s room, and I sat down on the reclining chair. My stomach growled angrily, as I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink the day of my surgery. I found myself actually looking forward to getting knocked out because if there was one thing I did well, it was sleeping. “Good luck, Maddie.” My dad said as he kissed my forehead and bolted the room as the nurse came out with a long needle. “Yay! Anesthesia!” I said with a silly grin as the nurse stuck the needle into my arm.
The doctor and four nurses gathered around me and the dentist counted back from one hundred. “99, 98, 97…” I heard him say. I blinked. “OK, all done, Maddie!” I heard the dentist say when I opened my eyes. Although it felt like only a second had passed, I noticed the sun in the distant window was in an entirely different place then I remembered it being.
“So this is what time travel feels like.” I tried to say, but my entire mouth was numb and bleeding like a vampire at snack time so the words came out as an unintelligible blurb. My bottom lip seemed to have a heavy weight on it and the corners of my mouth seemed a lot droopier than usual. “A perfect surgery,” Then nurse said to me as she wheeled me out of the operating room and to my father who was waiting in the hall. I tried to smile at my dad but all my face seemed willing to do was a goofy sort of grimace. I felt really, really silly. Man, anesthesia is the bomb!
“She’ll probably experience the worst of the swelling on the third day, make sure you give her the anti-inflammatories every four hours. We’ll give you some special ice packs for her face.” The nurse instructed to my dad as I giddily poked my huge chin with my finger. “U’ll eee like a cheepmuck,” I slurred as my paralyzed bottom lip did little to stop my furious drooling. “As long as she get’s lots of rest and fluids, she’ll be back to normal in less than a week!” The nurse said chipperly as my dad hauled my limp giggling body into the car.
As I hunkered down in bed, I still couldn’t feel the bottom part of my face and had to manually hold my bottom lip up just to drink lest I dribble out everything. My mouth was still bleeding so I stuffed some pieces of gauze into my incredibly sore kisser. My dad brought me some chicken broth, which I managed to drink after some difficulty distinguishing my bottom lip from my chin. There was a Star Trek marathon on BBC, so I just watched Picard baldly give commands until I passed out from the pain meds.
The next day I woke up feeling much better. The numbness was gone, I had stopped bleeding, and managed to regain my fine-motor skills. But as I looked in the mirror I was horrified to see that my lower mouth had swollen to give me a jawline that would make Jay Leno envious. I swallowed hard as I looked at myself in the mirror, and the action sent a terrible wave of pain through my body. I grabbed my unnaturally bulging chin and felt the throbbing of my teeth. I couldn’t so much as move my mouth without feeling my inflamed gums protest with a sensation not unlike getting a swift uppercut to the jaw. The fact that my face was also terribly bruised from the surgery also lent a hand to my beat-up-looking-appearance. I moaned a bit in pain as I cupped my enormous jaw in my hands.
“Hey, Maddie.” My mom said as she opened the door to my room holding a cup of yogurt. Suddenly she saw my horribly bloated mouth and she nearly dropped the Oikos on the carpet. “Oh baby…You look terrible…” She said as she crept closer and poked my swollen cheeks with a spoon. I moaned a bit more in pain. “You poor thing! Let’s get some ice on those cheeks!” She then ran downstairs and returned with a thing that looked like a headband but had some pockets that held icepacks. “Here, the dentist put this in your goody bag.” She wrapped the contraption around face, with the cold of the icepacks chilling my inflamed cheeks. I looked like a mix between a medieval princess and Sylvester Stallone after being beaten up by an angry Apollo Creed.
The rest of the day went pretty well, the painkillers drifting me in and out of consciousness the whole day and little pain interrupting my hazy little life. But good God, Sunday night was a doozy. For some reason, the anti-inflammatories had done little to stop the ignition of my entire face into horrible, bruised mass and as I lay helplessly on the bathroom floor at 2:30 AM moaning softly in agony, I cursed the monstrosity of preventative dental care and rubbed my bulging face now distended by horrible burning lumps. Ice did little to help at this point, so I just moaned for an hour or two imagining that my face would get stuck like this forever and I would have to join a convent or something, wherever writhing girls with swollen molars go when they begin to despair.
“Oh God!” I prayed as I stared at my bathroom ceiling that I now saw had a slight darkening on the corner of the ceiling, “If you could distract me from my engorged jaws for a minute, that would be amazing!”
At that moment, I heard the door of the bathroom creak open just behind my head and I jumped as my vision was obscured by a great furry mass that descended over my face. I suddenly realized it was my cat, Ebony, who per her usual hobby of surreptitiously opening bathroom doors and slinking in, had sat directly on top of my forehead and was peering down at me with her mischievous green eyes. “Hey cat.” I said as I felt her soft warm fuzziness heat my face and possibly aggravate my allergies. “That actually feels pretty good right now.” At that pronouncement, Ebony promptly jumped off my head and onto the bathroom sink where she mewled plaintively for me to turn on the sink, “Fine kitty.” I said as I crawled up from my fetal position on the tile floor to turn the tap.
As I turned the handle, I felt hot water spill over my icy fingers, which I quickly retreated to the relative safety of my neck that was still cold from the rigorous application of ice packs. To my surprise, the heat felt marvelous against my inflamed cheeks and I quickly stuck a hot washcloth into the steaming spigot and held the wonderfully healing heat against my chin for a good minute of delicious relief.
All this time, everyone had said it was cold that was supposed to help you with the pain, but God through my delightfully malevolent cat, revealed a wonderful remedy to the terrible pain of my extracted teeth. For the next hour, I kept a hot washcloth on my cheeks and for one wonderful hour, my pain was gone.
returned to bed around 5:00 AM, and had a wonderful rest. When I woke up around 4 PM, the swelling had decreased significantly and I was feeling ten times better. The next day I was starting school with only occasional twinges of soreness.
I thank God for his wonderful mercies with my recovery. He is, after all, the greatest physician and dentist. When I went back to see the wonderful surgeon the following Wednesday, he said I was healing beautifully and to make sure to always floss. I am grateful, very grateful.