November 17, 2011

On how Satan’s Buddy Ripped Teeth Out of My Head

At 26 my dentist kept mentioning at each check-up it was time to have my wisdom teeth extracted.  I finally put on my big girl panties and stepped up to the plate and grabbed the bull by the horns.  I had no desire to have teeth that I was born with which a gazillion years ago during Paleolithic times of dinosaur romping would have bided well for me when munching on vittles such as thick weeds and pterodactyl nuggets ripped out of my noggin, but alas it was necessary (or so I was always lead to believe).  Besides, this was the age of e-mail, anesthetics and really good pain relieving meds.  So as it was, I decided to make an appointment with my favored dentist to have the only 3 wisdom teeth I was born with removed.

Let’s dissect this decision a little further, shall we?

1.     Why are they called wisdom teeth?  Seems if you don’t need them and they cause nothing but aggravation the concept seems unintelligible to me. 

2.     You must be thinking why would this rather levelheaded gal make an appointment with her dentist to have her teeth extracted and not a good old-fashioned oral surgeon?  Read on my lovelies, read on…

For starters, I worked in an office where many of us young, single and healthy souls went to the same dentist.  I had been going to this particular Tooth Wizard for years and so had many of my colleagues and we were all very pleased with his services.  Upon further decision-making, one of my colleagues had his wisdom teeth extracted from this same doctor just weeks prior to my scheduled shindig.  Watching my colleague recover from this procedure had me in high spirits that my extraction recovery would follow a similar path.  You know, the usual --- mild discomfort for a couple of days, treats of milk shakes and frozen yogurt without the guilt and back to work by Monday morning.

The day of the removal was upon me.  It was an over-cast Thursday in mid-May 2002.  I worked for a half-day and then ventured down to the dentist office to have my 45-minute procedure.  My boyfriend at the time was by my side as he needed to drive my post-surgery high-as-a-kite-self back home.  At the time of checking in and signing paperwork, I looked over and saw what I thought was a strange sight.   I thought to myself, “was that the  anesthesiologist that just rolled his port-o-kit through the front door?”  I tried to dismiss what I thought my eyes had seen and went back to filling out my paperwork and handed over my insurance card.

Minutes later, the hygienist took me back to get prepped and load me up with some sort of magic pill to put me in a state of euphoria.  Interesting concept.  Wish it had worked.  This state of euphoria allowed me to count the full 10-1 backwards.  Usually people knock out around 4-5.  Apparently I have a high tolerance to narcotics.  Another dose from the wheel-about  anesthesiologist and I was now ready for a good tooth yanking.

Who knows how many minutes into the surgery it had been, but my eyes opened and I was awake.  I felt no pain, but I recall a dentist standing over me with some sort of stainless steel machinery yanking a bottom wisdom out of my noggin.  The  sounds mimicked a jackhammer inside my ear.  The doctor was surprised I had woken up and indicated so to his wheel-about buddy.  I was right.   They were  like Batman and Robin, except no capes and the Batmobile had been wheeled in via a port-o-cart.  And well, except for the fact that there was no saving the world or my teeth.   I remember everything clear as day for those remaining minutes of post-sub consciousness.  EVERYTHING.  Including the conversation the doctor had to the nurse that he was only going to remove two of the wisdoms and leave the third in as it was just too difficult at this point.

Fast forward to the post-procedure.  Most folks in an oral surgeons office get shipped off to a recovery room with a bed for a few minutes to wake up, collect themselves, let things wear off and then head home.  Not in my case.  I got up from the dentist’s chair, was placed in a wheel chair in which I was falling out of because while I had no pain, my equilibrium was off the charts and I was unable to control my body.  I was wheeled straight past other patients in the waiting room and to the car.   But not before stopping briefly at the sign-in desk to be offered a silly pink carnation flower.  One lonely flower.  Each prior visit I gladly took the pathetic flower.  It was the Dentist's way of saying, thanks for your business and cheery pick-me-up gesture for patients.  This particular time I was so pissed about the fact that I woke up mid-surgery, was thrown into a wheel chair with no time to recover I believe I might have said a few non-Christian comments and the middle finger might have been my good-bye gesture.  And I declined the pink carnation. And come on now, a carnation?  The flower that says, "I didn't care enough about you to get you a real flower, so I picked up the cheapest one I could find and hope is will suffice".

24-hours after what I thought was a minor procedure and a day off work, I was in pain.  Not the kind of pain you can tolerate, but the kind that is so constant and ever-present it brings you to your knees begging God to either let you give your last will and testament or leave you promising you'll never, ever make-fun of another person for the rest of your life.  I found myself trying to make deals with God.  One deal after another.   I'm pretty sure I promised him I'd feed the homeless at every holiday, go without brand-name shoes and drive a 1988 Toyota Tercel if that's what it took to rid me of the pain.  I popped  pain pills like they were Little Debbie Snack Cakes, but the 6-hour stretches between pills were agonizing as the pain would wear off after 2-3 hours.   

My boyfriend had left on Friday to tend to some out of town shannigans that weekend.  By Saturday night I had blown through my pain pills and was now calling friends to borrow some of theirs.  They abided.  Sunday morning I called my BF pleaded with him to come home early and take me to an emergency dental clinic.  Why not call my dentist?  Oh, I had.  I had been calling him all weekend trying to get a hold of him to advise him that my pain was off the charts, the bleeding wasn’t stopping and something was amiss.  Not one single returned phone call.  Let me remind you….in 2000, there were cell phones.  Satan’s Dentist had one.  Apparently cell phones don't ring in Hell.  Did you know that? 

So by late morning on Sunday my BF drove home and walked into the living room to find me in the fetal position on the floor.  My hair looked worse than Rosanna Rosanna Danna's, my pajamas hadn’t been changed since Friday and I could barely hold it together.  He threw me in the car and took me to a local dentists office that he had called to beg them to open and let me in.  Within 5 minutes the dentist asked me why I had chosen to get my teeth ripped out by a dentist and not an oral surgeon.  My rationale was poor, and I didn’t need a lecture on my idiotic choice of medical professionals to tend to me.   Thirty minutes later the new dentist did something to calm the pain down.  It was manageable least.

By Monday I was still feeling like a mountain goat who had tumbled 5,000 feet off a cliff, and I finally was able to contact my mother who had been on a cruise during this.  She snarked that she’d experienced similar pain post-tooth-op and admitted to me that childbirth was less painful simply for the fact that you knew it was going to end. 


I’m now confident of the following:
  • Satan doesn't return phone calls.
  • I’d never be a good candidate for drug addiction as I’d need to fork over 4x the dough to be able to get anything that actually effected my system and who can afford that these days.
  • I never did make an appointment to get the 3rd wisdom tooth removed.  It still lives quietly in my mouth and I’ll never upset the little guy enough to have him removed.  We’re going to be partners for life.

P.S. I fired my dentist. 


  1. Ow! Sorry!

  2. I was juuuuuust discussing this very topic with Matt. I have all four wisdom teeth (what a blessing!) and I can't afford to have them extracted. It's unfortunate. The pain remains dormant for a few days, and then out of the blue, it comes on like a mack truck and knocks me down for a couple days. I know I need to get them taken out . . . but it's so expensive! And I'm WAY too much of a wuss to do it at the dentist or even to have it done without being PUT OUT ALL THE WAY. Your story confirms my position on this!

  3. I am pretty sure that I had this very experience myself with a root canal. I almost died. Well not really, but I did have to have laughing gas since the guy insisted he could not put me under!

  4. Nice article. very interesting, thanks for sharing.