Thursday, July 31, 2008
Dental drama: the recovery
Thanks to everyone for their well wishes! My tooth extraction went relatively well, although the recovery was not what I expected. Perhaps I should start from the beginning.
As I suspected, I had to fill out 5 pages of forms (several requiring duplicate info from each other) before being called to the back. My 1st stop was in the xray room for a quick xray of my mouth. Within seconds the xray appeared on a computer screen mounted on the wall. No more developing of xray films. Pretty cool!
Then I was taken back to the room where the procedure would take place. An assistant swabbed my gum with a topical anesthetic so I wouldn't feel the needle when the novacaine was administered. I swear they gave me 6 shots of novacaine, but I didn't mind. I really didn't want to feel anything, if you know what I mean.
Within 10 seconds of receiving the novacaine I suddenly became very hot and dizzy. I started fanning myself with a piece of paper, which clued the assistant that something odd was happening. She looked at me, noted the sweat beads on my forehead, and asked "Are you alright, hon?" I told her yes, but that I was hot. I could feel myself sweating like crazy.
The assistant tilted the chair back so my head and legs were at the same height, while another assistant placed an oxygen mask over my nose. She instructed me to take deep breaths in, and then to exhale through my mouth, which I did. The dizziness subsided and the 2nd assistant began patting my forehead, face, and neck with cool, damp paper towels.
Again I was asked if I was okay and I responded that I was. They assured me there was no reason to worry, and that it wasn't uncommon for people to have a similar reaction to novacaine. The oral surgeon came in and asked if I was ready for him to begin. I said yes.
One of the assistants kept my mouth pulled wide open while the doctor worked at removing the tooth and sewing up the gum. I swear you could have driven an 18-wheeler in my mouth, it was stretched open so wide. It probably took less than 5 minutes, although the tooth did give him a little trouble. The procedure was shorter than I'd imagined, and I felt no pain or discomfort before or during.
The oral surgeon instructed me to bite down on a wad of gauze until I got home, and the assistant gave me an instruction sheet of post-op instructions. I drove directly to the pharmacy (in my sweat-dampened clothes) to have the antibiotic and vicodine prescriptions filled. I almost didn't get the vicodine filled, as I assumed 3 ibuprofen would probably be as good. But since the prescription was so inexpensive with my insurance, I decided to get it filled.
When I got home I read the post-op instructions and removed the gauze. I could tell my gum was still bleeding so I put more gauze in and bit down hard like the instructions said. I had to repeat this 3 more times over approximately 2 hours before the bleeding stopped. I took the antibiotic and watched some TV. I didn't take any pain reliever since I had no pain. Yet.
After watching TV for a while I felt like the novacaine had worn off all the sudden. It was weird how all the sudden I started feeling pain in my mouth, so I took a vicodine and expected to 'get high'. About an hour later I was disappointed that I had not yet felt any pain relief, and I wondered how prescription drug abusers could possibly abuse vicodine. I considered taking another, but decided to follow the instructions on the bottle that indicated 1 pill within 4 hours. Finally the pain began to subside. I ate a small cup of pomegranate apple sauce for dinner.
Before bed I took my 2nd antibiotic and vicodine, and placed a glass of water and another vicodine on my nightstand in case I needed it during the night. At 5:00 am I woke up in pain so I took the vicodine and went back to sleep.
Wed morning I got up at 8:00 and took my 3rd antibiotic, then went downstairs to eat something, figuring drugs on an empty stomach probably wasn't a good idea. I had 2 more cups of pomegranate apple sauce but suddenly became very hot and nauseous. I really felt like I was going to hurl, so I quickly lied down on the sofa in the family room and closed my eyes. I was hot and clammy so I opened my robe to allow the ceiling fan to cool me. I felt wave and wave of nausea. Each time I tried to sit up I felt like I was going to blow chunks.
After an hour and a 1/2 of that, I couldn't hold back the inevitable any longer. I jumped up and ran to the closest bathroom, covering my mouth tightly with my hand. The 1st heave came up but I kept it in my mouth until I got to the toilet, then opened my mouth as the 2nd heave came. I puked a few more times, then cautiously rinsed my mouth out. (My post-op instructions called for "no rinsing or spitting within 24 hours to prevent the clot from being dislodged" and cause bleeding again.)
For a few minutes after puking I felt okay. I fed the dog and let her out in the front lawn to pee. I tried to figure out if I'd lost the antibiotic with the apple sauce or not, and decided I should try and eat something else to prevent my stomach from being empty.
I slowly ate 1/2 a dinner role and tried to drink some water, since the antibiotic label encouraged drinking "plenty of water". But the extreme nausea and dizziness returned, so I returned to the sofa in the TV room for relief. Again I lied there sweating through waves and waves of nausea for another hour, until I could no longer postpone the inevitable.
Since I'd not planned to call in sick, I didn't have my phone handy. It was upstairs in my office. I decided I'd make a 'run for it' up the stairs so I could toss my cookies again and get my phone. It was a much longer distance this time, and I was not completely successful.
The 1st heave came after I'd gotten up the stairs but was still running down the hallway. Again I pressed my hand tightly over my mouth to hold it in until I could get to the toilet. I was just entering the bathroom when the 2nd heave came, and there was no more room in my mouth. I sprayed vomit onto my hand, arm, robe, floor, and wall, then leaned my head into the sink and let 'er rip a few more times.
Again, after hurling I felt better for a few minutes so I rinsed my mouth, quickly wiped up the floor and wall, put on a different robe, and grabbed my phone before returning to the sofa in the TV room downstairs. I called a colleague who's number I had memorized and asked her to notify my boss I'd be out sick today.
This time the nausea and dizziness didn't return. But instead of sweating, I kept alternating between being hot and chilly. I'd open my robe to cool off, then cover myself back up because I was chilly. After a few hours my body temperature seemed to stabilize and I just watched TV the rest of the day and night.
Spouse came home early, and after I recounted to him my morning's activities, he offered to go to the store to get me whatever I wanted/needed. I asked for some chocolate pudding, as I thought it would be easy to eat. He also brought me some chocolate covered wafers that were easy to chew. Although I wasn't having pain in my mouth, I'd been instructed not to chew anything on the side where the sutures were, and my jaw was still sore from being pried open by the assistant.
Bravo was running a Project Runway marathon, showing the complete season I'd missed, with Santino, Daniel, and Chloe so I enjoyed watching that for many hours back-to-back.
Before going to bed I took my 4th antibiotic with a big glass of water. Fortunately this morning I woke up feeling pretty close to 'normal', with the exception of some swelling, which the post-op instructions indicated was normal. I had a cup of apple sauce and took my 5th antibiotic, then got to work. Fortunately yesterday was a rather slow day so I didn't get too behind in my work.
The sutures will disintegrate in 5-7 days and the swelling should go down before then. I'm looking forward to being able to chew on both sides of my mouth again one day soon. I've lost 5 lbs so far.