Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Teeth

Christmas means many things.  One thing it means to me is that it's time for my regular dental check up.  My hygienist said mine were the healthiest gums she'd seen in a week.  Now that might not sound like a big thing to you, but to someone who insists the dentist staff meets her at the front door with nitrous oxide for a cleaning, it's a very big thing indeed.

Other than Deborah Kay, my friend who is a dental hygienist and instilled in me the importance of floss and unfortunately lives a gazillion miles from me, I just can't really trust people who choose to earn a living putting their hands in other people's mouths.  It's just not right.  So I've developed a bit of OCD around flossing to try to keep the monsters away. 

Decades ago my dentist finally convinced me that I really had to get that lower wisdom tooth extracted.  It wasn't getting any smaller and it was causing some problems.  So I went to an oral surgeon.  The tooth was crosswise, impacted and looked pretty HUGE in the xray. 

When the day of the surgery came I was proudly doing my calming exercises and doing quite well as every single person in the office tried without success to get an IV started.  Finally the surgeon ordered some nitrous oxide, which I'd never had before.   He said it would help them start the IV.  I don't know, maybe they didn't have as much trust in my relaxation techniques as I did. 

So they started the gas and it was LOVELY.  I tried to pass the mask around to the surgical team.  I said, "Forget the tooth, let's party!"  I told them they were my very best friends ever.

They all laughed, too.  Maybe the gas was leaking out.  Finally the surgeon said, "Say goodbye now.  The IV is started."  I said goodbye and the next thing I knew I was on a small cot and a nurse kept trying to get me into a sitting position and I kept falling over.  She finally got me into my coat and out the door with my husband who got me to the car for the 30 minute drive home.

I told him all about the IV fiasco and that I couldn't believe I'd put this off so long because I felt fine.  I didn't even have any pain.  He pulled into the pharmacy on the way home and I told him I didn't need the pain meds filled.  He told me just to wait in the car.  We got home and I went straight to bed. 

I woke gagging several hours later, convinced that a truck was parked on my face.  I pulled a bloody mess of gauze out of my mouth and tried to call my husband, but my mouth was such a mess I couldn't make words.  My husband came in with a pain pill and some water, which I somehow got down. I was crying.

He said, "I was worried about you, all the way home you were  making weird noises."   I guess the anesthesia took longer to wear off than I thought.

Yes, we all have our favorite Christmas memories.  That one isn't one of mine.


  1. Love nitrous oxide and sodium pentathol(?). Hell I love anything that makes you feel like you're floating with a big ass smile on your face. If I had wisdom teeth I'd go get them out just for the sake of it!!! hahahaha. Great post Fay. Merry Christmas

  2. A touching Christmas story if I've ever read one.

    I had laughing gas once, and I kept telling the dental assistant I loved her until the dentist stuck his fist in my mouth. Martha, however, was not laughing.

    You know, with such nice gums, you oughta be real popular with the old folks someday.

  3. Charlie,
    What do you mean SOMEDAY? I think we should all have a tank of nitrous for Christmas, don't you?

  4. C'mon, Fay, I'm talking about REALLY old.

    And I'd love to share a bottle of NO with you. I wonder what was a good vintage . . .