The Wisdom Teeth Extraction Adventures of Beth
So, I’m feeling much better today – my jaw is only a wee bit achy so I’m off the T3s which were making me all loopy and unable to type properly all day yesterday.
My adventure at the oral surgeon’s office started off with the unpleasant discovery that they lied to me about the cost. I was told that my insurance covered most of the cost, I just have to pay the specialist fees1 – they had gotten a pre-approval for the cost of what an extraction would be if I went to a regular dentist and for the deep sedation. They told me that since the sedation is through my extended health benefits, rather than dental benefits, I had to pay the $190 for that upfront (despite the insurance company pre-approving this, they said they “didn’t trust” that the insurance would actually pay for it), and then they would pay me it back once they got the money from my insurance company (as opposed to the rest of the cost, which is covered by the dental benefits and so they would just charge to my insurance directly, trusting insurance would cover it). But when I go to pay for my part of the fees, I notice on the receipt that they’ve charged me $375, not $190 as I’d been told. And when I asked them about it, they are like, “Oh no, the insurance covers all except $190, you have to pay that. But we charge you the full amount and then reimburse you the difference when we get it from them.” And so I’m like, “That’s not what I was told and, in fact, I have it written down on this piece of paper exactly what you guys told me and that was that sedation costs $190 and my insurance will cover it.” So they begrudging apologized that I “was given the wrong information” and so I told them that I supposed that it’s too late to do anything about it now, but they should make sure they aren’t giving people incorrect information like that, because $200 is a lot of money to suddenly be out of pocket.
Then I went and sat in the waiting room and caught up with Rachel, who I hadn’t seen in ages, and it was good that we had the chance to do that because I couldn’t talk much after the surgery (although the poor other guy in the waiting room sure got an earful about all my drama and our ensuing analysis of said drama). They finally called me to go into the surgery room and then I got to act like a big baby about the fact that they were going to be stabbing me with a needle. And putting a blood pressure cuff on me. I hate those, they make me feel so confined! And why, when you tell a nurse “I’m afraid of needles” do they always say “it’s not that bad. It’s just like a little bee sting”? Is this really supposed to make me feel better? I mean, seriously, am I supposed to say, “Oh good! Bee stings tickle!” So I say, “Um, I’m terrified of bee stings too. But thanks.” So she takes my blood pressure and that gets me all freaked out and then even putting the little heart rate monitor on my finger freaks me out, so they strap my arm with the blood pressure cuff on it to the arm of the chair “too keep the blood pressure cuff in place” (translation: “to keep you from flailing around, you big baby”) and by the time the surgeon comes in and puts the tourniquet on and tells me to open and close my hand to pump up my vein2, I’m literally curled up in a fetal-like position (except with one arm strapped to a chair and the other arm raised as I make feeble attempts to open and close my hand without totally passing out from the queasiness of it all and saying, “how long until I can be unconscious?” and “I promise I’ll be more compliant once I’m asleep!”
The thing with me and needles is that I have to watch the needle go in. My imagination of how big the needle is, and my terror at not knowing the exact moment they are going to stab me, make me more of a basketcase than just watching it happen. So when I say, “I have to watch” and the surgeon literally turns my face away, saying “look at this lady over here,” I wanted to scream “you paternalistic bastard, I know myself and I have to watch”… but I restrained myself and left out the part about him being a paternalistic bastard. So the needle goes in fine and doesn’t hurt too bad and then he says, “This will feel like a cold drink being poured into your hand when I put the medicine in,” and I say, “Yup, that feels cold”, followed shortly by, “that feels really uncomfortable” and then the next thing I know is some vague feeling that something is going on in the bottom left side of my jaw and then they are telling me to wake up, it’s all over, get the hell out. OK, maybe they didn’t say “get the hell out.” It was more like, “we are taking you to the recovery area, be careful, you’ll be pretty wobbly.” So I stumble to the “recovery area,” which is literally a bench, and they bring Rachel in and she’s like “I can see why they insist on an escort, they really rush you out of here. You were only in there for 20 minutes.” And that had to include 10 minutes of blood pressure taking, needle stabbing and my being a big wussy baby. Then the nurse proceeds to explain a bunch of instructions to us and thank god Rachel was there for that because I was so doped up, I totally felt like I was extremely drunk and the only thing I remember was some vague comment about not having caffeine. Of course, even in a drug addled state, I pick up on the caffeine comment. At this point, I can’t feel my face, because of the local, but I notice that my hand, where they IV had been, was killing me and, despite the Dora the Explorer band-aid, is covered in dried blood. So I put some pressure on it with my opposite hand to try to lessen the pain a bit and that takes about all the brain power I have at the time.
We get a cab to the Shopper’s Drug Mart by my place so we can pick up my prescriptions and the pharmacist is like “There are several people ahead of you, it will be at least 15 minutes and Rachel is like, “She just had her wisdom teeth out, can’t you possible let us jump the line” and the pharmacist is like, “No. Besides you have 3 prescriptions.” And why the hell does it take so long to fill prescriptions? I mean, you have to count 8, 15 and 18 pills out big bottles and put them into little bottles. My 2 year old niece could do that! So anyway, Rachel decides to bring me home and she’ll come back for the drugs, ‘cuz it’s just a few blocks. I decide to buy some juice in Shopper’s ‘cuz the nurse said to try to get some sugar in me as soon as possible, since I wasn’t allowed to eat since midnight the night before. And as I take the change back from the cashier, I realize that my hand, with which I’d handed over my Shopper’s card and my cash to the cashier is covered in dried blood, from having used it to put pressure on my IV wound. It takes a minute for this to register as my brain is still all messed up on the sedation and I feel really bad for the poor cashier, and a bit surprised she didn’t say anything like, oh I don’t know, “Um, you are covered in blood.”
Anyway, Rachel gets me home and gets my drugs and I take my Tylenol 3, which was quite challenging because they said to take it when the local starts to wear off, which you will know is happening because your nose will feel tingly, but at this point your mouth and tongue are still frozen and I have trouble swallowing pills at the best of time. But, after several attempts, I manage to get the pill down somehow and spend the rest of the day in the following routine: take a T3, try to email or chat or read blogs but go all loopy, then get all drowsy and fall asleep on couch with laptop on lap, wake up when someone calls/texts/pings me on msn/google talk to see how I’m doing, feel better, watch something on the internets, notice my jaw is sore, realize that I was supposed to take another dose of T3 an hour ago, so then take another T3. And repeat. Always repeat. Oh yes, and rotating ice packs on my face – take one out of the freezer, strap it to my face, replace it with an alternate when it loses it’s coldness
. For the entire day. During one of my less loopy phases, where I could actually figure out how to send an email, I emailed Rachel to find out what exactly they had said about caffeine, and it turned out that they said to just not have caffeine in my first drink. Which is a relief, since I was afraid they were going to have said, “don’t have caffeine for the next week”. Or something equally insane.
I end up watching 2.5 movies and a bunch of clips of Stephen Colbert, catching up on most of my blogs and even watching an episode of good ole Young & the Restless. My friend Clayton brought me pudding in the evening, because I discovered that the pudding mix I bought to make for myself had gelatin3 in it and I’d somehow missed that when I read the ingredient list when I bought it and somehow noticed when I took it out of the cupboard to make it. I had taken a T3 just before Clayton got here and apparently I was in my loopy phase, but didn’t know it. I totally thought I was acting normal until he said, “You are on T3, aren’t you?” And I was like “Why? I am acting weird?” and he laughed “Yes.” But I really, totally didn’t think I was! The T3 seemed to make me act like I had ADHD or something – I’d be like “I really should write down that I just took that T3… hey, what is that shiny thing?” And I also didn’t notice that there was blood on the hand towel in my bathroom, which may have been from my IV wound, or possibly from when blood was dripping out of my mouth, but most certainly was not appropriate to have hanging on my towel rack when someone was over!
I took my other meds with my dinner (mango pudding), which is what the nurse had said to do. My other meds are an antibiotic, which apparently “should only be used for serious infections because infrequently there are severe, rarely fatal, intestinal problems,” (which seem like an odd choice for a prophylactic antibiotic) and a corticosteroid, which may decrease my immune response (which seems like an odd choice for someone who is trying not to get an infection) and may stunt my growth (which is an odd choice for someone who is clearly due for a growth spurt any day now). And I followed Ann-Oni Mouse’s advice and sprayed my gauze with Chloraseptic, which seemed to work well for killing pain and I’m hoping will contribute to infection prevention.
I took my last dose of T3 just before I headed to bed with Stephen Colbert, at about 12:30 am, figuring I would wake up about 5 hours later in need of another dose, but I slept right straight through until 11:30 am. And my jaw only had a dull ache, which seems to be the most prominent in my lower left side of my jaw, which is appropriate because that’s the only place I remember feeling anything happen during the surgery, so I’m guessing that was the most difficult one to get out. Anyway, since the pain is fairly minor, I haven’t even taken a single T3 today. I figure I’ll be careful about taking my other meds as scheduled (I set the alarm in my Palm Pilot to remind me when to take it and then record that I took it… I’m kind of like that guy in Memento), gently clean my teeth as my surgeon recommends and keep my fingers crossed that I don’t get any infections. My mother thinks I have inherited my father’s propensity to heal really fast. I think that time I accidentally stabbed myself with that needle contaminated with rat blood in the lab, I took on the rat’s super immune system capabilities4. Because we all know that super powers are gained by science lab mishaps.
I spent most of today sitting in the sun, either goofing around on the internet or talking on the phone (and then having my landlord make fun of the amount of times I used the word “like” in my conversation with Sarah… “not that I was listening in on your conversation, ” he says, “but I counted that you used the work “like” 75 times since you came outside on your phone. Stupid, really, that everyone uses the word “like” so much.”) Went for Frappuccinos with Kalev, who came to hang out a bit after he finished work and before the movie he was going to.
And to top off my crappy week, I did some laundry, during which I pulled the genius move of putting my bluetooth headset through the wash. Like I said, genius. I’m going to give it a few days to completely dry out before I try turning it on again. Which I’ve heard works for when you dump an entire bottle of water into your purse and soak the hell out of your cell phone5. But August 2007 Crapweek started last Saturday, so I figure that it’s scheduled to be over in 7 minutes6. And, so long as I still feel as good tomorrow as I do right now, I’m hitting the town with some friends tomorrow night. ‘cuz I so need a night on the town right now!
OK, probably time for little Bethy to take her med (need to check my notes to remember which one!) and hit the hay. Beth sleepy. Beth has comfy bed with soft, freshly laundered sheets in which to sleep.
OK, I just went to take my night time meds and discovered that I took the wrong med earlier today. I’m supposed to take my antibiotic three times a day (like morning, midway through the day, and night), and my steriod twice day (morning and night). But, for some unknown reason, I took my steroid in the middle of the day instead of my antibiotic. I think I can kiss that growth spurt goodbye.
1I figure if someone is going to be messing with my face, it’s really worth the extra money to go to the best of the best.
2For the record, just typing that out made me queasy.
3Since I’m a vegetarian, I don’t eat gelatin, which is made from horse hooves and cow bones. Ick.
4Lab rats seems to have ridiculous awesome immune systems.
5For the record, this was not me.
6It was 11:53 pm on Friday night when I typed that.