Saturday, September 7, 2013

Not A Pie Chart

I've been out of commission lately thanks to a lovely procedure I had last week which was not, in fact, a pie chart.

"You're getting what?"

"A gum graft."

"Gum graph? Like a pie chart?"

Not quite.

My dentist (whose assistant is emotionally and physically abusive but whom I see anyway because I'm too lazy to find a new one)  has been after me for awhile to go and see this specialist (periodontist? Maybe?) because my gums on my lower jaw are receding thanks to years of orthodontia, aggressive tooth brushing, and good old-fashioned Western European genetics that sensitively erode anything that comes into contact with acidic things (one of my favorite food groups: lemons, pickles, tomatoes, booze). I finally shelved my dental anxiety and went in for a consultation. She was neither emotionally nor physically abusive so I trusted her instantly even as she explained to me what a gum graft is.

For those who are squeamish, this is about to get real nasty.

Basically, they numb up your mouth (which is THE WORST - isn't there anyway they can make those Novocaine shots less terrifying?) and then shove a tiny metal spoon down in between your teeth and gums in the graft area to create space. Jiggle that thing around until your gums are nice and destroyed. Then, they shred little tiny pieces of gum out of the roof of your mouth, transplant them to the graft area, and pack them into the pockets of gum they just created with the tiny metal spoon thing. Lash the whole package of gum and grafted gum material in with yards and yards of stitches, lash up the roof of your mouth with yards and yards of stitches, and send you on your way.

I mean, Saw couldn't come up with this shit.

She then explained that this procedure doesn't require anesthesia. But that if I have qualms about it, I can opt for an Ativan prescription and make arrangements for someone to drive me to/from the appointment.

Yes, please.

So, my buddy Jessica kindly agreed to drive me to/from the procedure, and really, I think she got the better end of the deal because she got to experience me on copious amounts of Ativan. 

I woke up the morning of the surgery and ate breakfast (doctor's orders, which made me happy because I hate being hungry and she insisted that I eat prior to the procedure) and then popped two Ativan. I immediately went back to sleep until Jessica came to pick me up. I don't remember much from the drive there, and I only vaguely remember handing my paperwork to the assistant and getting settled into the chair. Epic fail on Jessica's part - she let me take my phone back into the room with me where I proceeded to Instagram myself looking drugged out of my mind. Behold:

I have a feeling those pictures will be back to haunt me someday.

Anyhoodle, the procedure itself actually wasn't bad at all. The Novocaine was the worst part (HONESTLY with all of the medical advances we have, WHY HASN'T SOMEONE LOOKED INTO THE PHYSICAL AND EMOTIONAL TURMOIL CAUSED BY NOVOCAINE INJECTIONS?!?!?!) and then I mostly just tuned out. I was allowed to bring headphones and so I started out trying to listen to This American Life before quickly realizing that I lacked the mental capacity to follow it and switched over to music. 

The procedure was projected onto a large screen TV in front of me so that the specialist could get a magnified view of what she was doing, and I found myself watching it. Normally, the site of something like that would send me doubled over into my bed for days questioning my own existence but, thanks to the Ativan, I instead found it mesmerizing. It was like watching Planet Earth, if Planet Earth was your mouth and someone was excavating and relocating portions of it. 
The graft site - it's covered with a putty-like bandage so you can't even see it. This is a couple of days after the surgery and the swelling has gone down significantly.

Stitches on the roof of my mouth with putty-like bandage over them so you can't see the whole thing, just the ends of the stitches poking out. I can't stop touching them with my tongue. It's kind of maddening.
I don't remember leaving the clinic. I vaguely remember them finishing up and taking off my bib and glasses and telling me that I could go, and I was very confused about this. I was certain we weren't finished yet, but they insisted that everything was done and that Jessica was allowed to take me home. 

Jessica did not, however, take me home. She took me to CVS to fill another prescription. I have barely a glimpse of recollection of being in CVS but apparently we had a very long, in-depth conversation about nail polish and I was extremely judgy and opinionated about people who elaborately paint their nails and post that shit on Pinterest. Which I would never, apparently in my Ativan-state, do. Cue two days later when I was bored from lying around recovering and elaborately painted my nails and posted that shit on Instagram. 

I also apparently informed Jessica that I am not allowed to run for 48 hours post-surgery and asked her, very seriously, "please do not let me go for a run." As if.

Once I got home, I immediately took a very long nap. I had some soup, watched Breaking Bad, Skyped with my boyfriend (I'm sure we had a very meaningful conversation), and napped some more. Jessica came over in the evening and we had an eventful time on the couch with her studying and me "watching tv" (sleeping in an upright position). I went to bed around 9:30 and slept until about 7:30 the next morning, and then went into work. 

Pain-wise, I felt nothing that first day. The Novocaine and high doses of prescription-strength Ibuprofen did the trick. In fact, nothing really started to hurt until the afternoon of the second day. And then, it mostly just ached like a bruise. 

I did go to work (and had back-to-back meetings, naturally) and my face was a little swollen. Mostly I just felt tired and my jaw ached as though I'd had my braces tightened. More prescription-strength Ibuprofen to the rescue.

Day after the surgery - selfie at work.

That ice pack and my face were intimate for about 48 hours post-surgery. 

Two days after surgery - swelling completely gone. Yes, I take selfies at work.

I'm now four days post-surgery and my biggest problem now is eating. I can't eat anything with seeds or that might stick in the stitches, and I have to take teeny tiny bites of things. I can only eat on one side of my mouth and I look like a freak because I kind of tilt my head to keep the food away from the stitches. I went to an Orioles game last night and had what I'm sure was a disgusting procedure of eating a hot dog (the meat part only) by picking tiny chips of meat and packing them into the side of my mouth.

Mostly, it's soup and smoothies. My mouth feels tender and I'm still on antibiotics and taking the pain meds, although much less frequently. The stitches will come out in a couple of weeks and hopefully reveal a lovely new healthy gum line which I will probably proceed to destroy because I can't stay away from acidic foods. But here's hoping it takes another 31 years to do. 

All in all, the procedure was really not bad and much, much less painful than I'd anticipated. 

But definitely ask for the Ativan. And have a trustworthy friend drive you, who will later be able to fill you in on all of the fun things you said and did while drugged up.

No comments: