Thursday, April 4, 2013

Of Teeth and Transport

Three of the most boring things in the world to hear people talk about are their dreams, their ailments, and their children. (YMMV--and for some those last two are the same thing. Hiyo!) Thanks to the more or less unanimous opinion of every person I've dated, you've been spared the third today, so I'll just have to double down on the first two. Me and my wisdom teeth, after the break.

This is one of those issues that's been building for a while. I went to the dentist about two years ago now, and he told me my wisdom teeth needed to come out. They probably weren't doing any permanent damage now, but they were definitely going to do so some day. I held off, largely because I knew my student health plan only covered less than half of the total cost. Then I started to get little aches after eating certain foods. Okay, I thought, I have sensitive teeth. Then it happened while I was drinking water. Really sensitive teeth. Then I started getting pains just above my jaw bones. Well, that was just a nasal infection. A series of nasal infections. My sinuses have never been great, right? I've had trouble with allergies at least since I moved to Ontario. (A date that, incidentally, corresponds to when my wisdom teeth started becoming impacted.) Then, around January, I started getting an earache. Lots of earaches. And then I lost about half the hearing in my left ear. Finally, I went to the doctor. He figured all of it was my wisdom teeth, pushing up on my sinuses, which in turn were pushing on my ear drum. Human body, right? One of the problems with the way health is taught in school (at least when I was taking it) is that by looking at it in terms of systems (digestive, hearing, endocrine, etc) you forget that all those systems are in constant, overlapping contact with each other, and the plight of one is the plight of many.

There's a metaphor for the European debt crisis in there.

Anyway, after stalling some more, I finally went to the dentist around mid-March. He confirmed what the doctor said, and decided all four need to come out. The top two were fairly simple, and could be done there, but the bottom two needed to be done by a specialist, an oral surgeon. So I then had two appointments--one for the bottom two on April 18th (the earliest they could get me in), and a consulting job for the top two, on March 31st. The two consultancies, incidentally, both went fine. I was impressed with how professional both the dentist practices I went to were; everyone I met was efficient and friendly. The unfortunate part of both meetings were the transportation issues. For my first consultancy, I had booked with a guy a friend of mine went to, which meant that he was across town, far further south than I had ever rode on the bus. (Not as far as I'd been jogging, back when I lived in the south end, but that's neither here or there.) Now, I had planned a route there, but I'd forgotten to plan a route back. So I just got on the bus going the opposite direction from the one that brought me there. It was the same route, just the reverse side, I figured. Nope. Not only did it change directions almost immediately, but it stopped at the southern most bus terminal in the city. Well, fine, I thought. I'll just hop on the express bus going back. Problem was, there were two express bus stops there, and I got on the wrong one, something I didn't quite realize until it hit the highway. Which meant that at that point, my course correction had taken me to another city entirely. I eventually got back, but I was thoroughly disgusted with the local transportation system. And myself.

In comparison, the oral surgeon transportation story is shorter, but more frantic. Again, I looked up the route there, and it was at 410 Springton Road (made up name), which was only a block or two from the major bus route. Easy peasy. Problem was, I was relying on the GPS in my iPhone to take me from the route to the exact location. That meant walking around shivering in -5 degree weather for about fifteen minutes more than I had planned, trying to locate the exact point. And that was when I realized that there was 410 Springton Road East, and 410 Springton Road West. Luckily for me, they divided right at where the main bus route was, but I still had to choose. Funny story: there is a dentist practice at BOTH those addresses. And of course, I go to the wrong one first, because I wrote down the oral surgeon's name, but not the name of the practice. I eventually show up to the right place, a mere fifteen minutes late because I had built in a half hour of redundant time in case something went wrong. At least I did one thing right that day. Anyway, the surgeon gave me an appointment: April 3rd.

I put all the details together. I told my supervisor and the professor that I do research for that I'd be out of commission for a few days. I bought a lot of mushy foods, then bought some more on Tuesday, since I'd eaten all my puddings and ice cream over the weekend, because I have no will power when it comes to food, mushy or otherwise. I found a driver willing to drive me there, stay there during the operation, and drive me home. (And she was SO awesome. The whole thing would have been so much worse without her.) But I was still feeling rather anxious the night before. My dreams, unsurprisingly (I bet you thought I forgot about that strand), did not help. First, I barely got any sleep. Second, the sleep I did get was awful. I dreamt that I hadn't slept at all, that I was stuck back in Saskatchewan and had to get driven to Ontario, (which made no sense), and that I had woken up exactly five minutes before the operation was to happen. Somehow, using dream logic, I reached the appointment, only to have the dentist take out the wrong tooth. And that error caused all the neighboring teeth to fall out, and I was left holding a big handful of my own teeth. God, I hate missing teeth dreams. And then I woke up. The funny thing was, it was 7 am when I woke up, just in time to get ready for my 8 am pick-up time--but I'd forgotten to set my alarm. So... thanks, traumatizing dream. You were just what the dentist ordered.

I wish I had some hilarious story to tell about the anesthetic, but it all went fairly routinely. I got there, they put me out, and when I woke up, the teeth were gone. I paid the bill (and it still seems kind of sketchy to present a recently drugged out person with a bill) and it was everything I feared from two years ago--given the cost of the impeding top two and deducting the amount my plan covers, I'll be paying about $1000. Pricey.  My chauffeur took me home, but not before she stopped by the drug store and got my pain medication and some ice cream, which she got by herself, since I was too woozy for public interactions. Like I said, totally awesome. I got home, started on my mushy food regimen, took a nap, and whiled out the day with episodes of House of Cards and playing some Dead Space 1.

I think I'm doing pretty well.The wooziness wore off pretty quickly; mentally, I feel fine. The jaw's in a lot of pain, though, and the soft foods are a definite necessity. It hurts to open them wide enough to talk, and the idea of chewing still has me wincing. Basically, I can do a bit a bit of work from home, but I'd be totally unable to go to any meetings or anything that required me to actually respond to actual human beings. I also wouldn't want to be around people immediately before my next scheduled pill-popping, because it does get sore. But it doesn't look like there'll be any long term problems.  I should be back in shape in no time--just in time, in fact, for the original dentist to take out the top two wisdom teeth on the 18th.


Later days.

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