Me, the patient?

So it’s happening again.  After sorting out my eyes a few years back, my wisdom teeth have decided to join the revolt against my body.  What did I ever do to them?!

Once again, this puts me in the unusual position of med-student-turned-patient.  I’ve never been seriously ill, operated on, or had to travel to get the care I need.  So to suddenly need oral surgery in the next few months in a city 3 hours from my own… well, it’s interesting, to say the least.

I’m as guilty as any 22 year old – I’ve always taken my good health for granted.  I’m young.  I’m thin.  I play hockey and run.  And so far, no major aches and pains, no autoimmune diseases, no migraines, no bone fractures… I’m doing pretty excellently.  Just those pesky eyes and now teeth.

On one side of things, I really have nothing to worry about.  Wisdom teeth extraction is about as bread-and-butter as it gets for an oral surgeon.  The procedure takes about 30 minutes, you wake up feeling pretty awesome, and get to eat ice cream for a week.  There are millions of these procedures done every year, almost all without any complications.  Plus I’m saved having to make the decision whether to operate or not – the bottom two are coming in at a particularly nasty angle and are already pushing on my last set of molars.  So they have to come out.  No doubt about it.

But on the other hand… I’ve never had surgery.  Nada.  I’ve never been under general anaesthesia.  I’ve never even had a cavity.  And now an oral surgeon is going to incise my gums and pull out 4 teeth that currently aren’t hurting me.  Doesn’t sound too awesome.  I know that it’s absolutely necessary to my oral and overall health, but that’s certainly not going to stop this neurotic medical student from worrying about it.  Because nobody expects to be that 0.00001%.  And my lower wisdom teeth are closer to the inferior alveolar nerve than I’d like (even though damage to them is usually temporary).

Anyway.  If you’ve got any wise words with your surgical experience, leave a comment below!  Heaven knows it’s nice to hear people survive this sort of thing, har-dee-har.

 – Atalanta

Photo courtesy of: jannoon028 | FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Me, the patient?

  1. Angela Goudman

    I can empathize – I ended up being on the opposite side of the bed when I had my gallbladder removed 5 years ago. My best advice is to remember that your body’s going through a stress response – don’t try to do too much afterward. There will be systemic effects because it’s a trauma to your system – you might feel tired, flu-y, etc. Rest, lots of fluids, and if you want to do something really medical, you can get out a flashlight and keep tabs on your extraction sites! (Essentially, you can pretend to be your own post-op nurse – this will really impress the nurses on your surgical rotation because they’ll see that you know what THEY do!)

  2. Valerie T

    Ahem – “you wake up feeling pretty awesome, and get to eat ice cream for a week.”
    Please allow me to translate this as: You wake up with a tender, swollen face/chipmunk cheeks (ie. not awesome); and, after one week of eating ice cream/jello 2-3x a day, you never want to eat that food ever again! (I have purposely not eaten jello for the past 5 years.)
    Sorry to be a downer! But it’s going to be fine – enjoy your week of laying on the couch watching movies :).

    • lol, thanks Val. Always a kind word to lift my spirits. 😉
      Here’s hoping the anesthesia hasn’t quite worn off when I wake up!

    • Elvishswimmer

      Another terrible addition.
      My face was still all numb when I woke up. About 3 hours later when the numbing starts coming out, its like the most painful pins and needles ever, only in your mouth.
      Other weird but slightly cool thing, you (or at least I) get a little fluid build up in your jaw from the surgery and it prevents you from opening your mouth all the way. I literally was trying as hard as I could and I couldn’t open my mouth wider than 2.5 stacked fingers. It was really weird and didn’t hurt at all. It took about a week and it was the funnest pop when I finally broke through and could open my mouth again.

      I also learned a weird thing with my surgery. I obviously got T3s when I was done, but my dad, being the awesomest dad ever because he is a doctor, got me some percocet. He said when he had surgery he took some and it just knocked him to sleep for hours after. I was REALLY looking forward to that, as I was really NOT feeling awesome after my surgery and just wanted to sleep it off, at least the first day.
      So I took the percocet and ended up being one of those weird people that react to drugs differently than normal. It wired me. Like wired me worse than chugging 5 cups of coffee. So there I was. Vibrating, restless legs, tossing and turning in bed, wishing I could sleep with that terrible ache in my mouth.
      After sufficient time I took the T3s and they knocked me right out and I was really happy then.

      Not trying to scare you, just thought you might find it interesting, being the med student that you are.

      Fun game! Try your gosh darn hardest to stay awake while you are being put under!
      You will be fine, if you haven’t been through it yet. 🙂

      • Elvishswimmer

        Another good tip, have like 3 or 4 small frozen peas on hand. Just keep switching them in and out. Use it as a pillow, alternating sides to not let one side get to cold.
        Very nice 🙂

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