I got my wisdom teeth taken out this morning.
Actually, I only had those on the right side extracted; the left side has been left for the last Friday in September. In a way I wish they had just gone ahead and done the whole job at once, but then I suppose I would be even less coherent and more ghastly looking than I already am.
I wasn’t as nervous as I should have been, I suppose, going into the whole ordeal. The last time I had teeth taken out was somewhat of an “experience”, to say the least, complete with all the novacaine I could possibly be given yet still vividly feeling pain, which required not only a rescheduling of the appointment but the involvement of the famed “Mr. Green & Mr. Blue”, otherwise known as laughing gas. (And laugh I did.)
I entered the dentist’s office this morning knowing that the difficulties faced last time would most likely rear their ugly heads again, and when I was already brought to tears just by the doctor giving the novacaine shots, I just went ahead and asked them to bring in the gas.
“It’ll be an extra charge,” the nurse warned me.
“I don’t care,” I replied through my tears.
And my old friends Mrs. Green & Blue were wheeled in again, and I don’t think I was ever happier to see them. They left me in the room alone for a bit while the effects of the novacaine and gas set in, and I had that peculiar sensation of going round in circles, though I changed directions every few rotations. Now clockwise, now counterclockwise, I tried to put the sensations to a rhythm, and was vaguely frustrated when I couldn’t. I tried not to laugh at the mental image I had of my bloated, now-numb right side of my face. I had this wonderful feeling of the world being a beautiful place, and felt as if myself and my teeth and all other woes in my life had taken to making daisy-chains and dancing in circles in wide, green fields. When the doctor came back in the ask if I was ready, I told him he could take all my teeth and I wouldn’t care. (Thankfully he didn’t take me up on that.)
I was briefed on what was going to happen, that I would feel pressure but not pain, and if I did feel pain that I should raise my left hand (here I held up my hands with my thumb and index finger at right angles and tried to remember which hand was which.) As they set to work I wondered at how much I didn’t care about what they were doing. I felt the pressure they said would be there, and when the dentist told me not to be afraid, I wanted to tell him I found it all amusing, not frightening. They worked and dug around in my mouth and pulled so hard that they pulled my head sideways as well.
I understood in that instance why people might turn to alcohol, or drugs, or any of those other infinite methods of numbing ourselves to the world. Wouldn’t it be great, I thought, to feel this way about everything? About every obstacle that came along, every pain, every tooth pulled? I thought about faith and trusting in God, and how we lean so heavily on Him when things get rough. Religion is a crutch, I said to myself, or so says the world. But if you can’t walk properly, what is the shame of using a crutch? Why do we despise that so?
They finished with the first tooth, and left me alone for a bit before they set to work on the second.
If you can’t walk, use a crutch.
I realized my lips were moving as if I was thinking aloud, and I tried to close my mouth, though the numbness kept me from knowing if I had actually succeeded in doing so. My face felt huge, and I wondered what I looked like. As they came back in and started on the other tooth, I had this fleeting thought I would never be able to go through with a natural childbirth. I was twitching, surely from the effects of the gas, and though my arms were by my sides I felt like I was waving them around.
They finished, finally, and at my request showed me my teeth, bloody and surprisingly large. I asked if I could keep them, and they told me I couldn’t. What on earth they would want with them, I have no idea. Then again, I don’t know what I would do with them, either.