In which I am falling apart

I had my first dentist appointment since before the pandemic started yesterday morning, and while I don’t have any new cavities or anything worth talking about– it was just a cleaning, after all– it was a cleaning after about a year and a half when normally my hygienist likes to see me every three months so that she can keep an eye on my gums. She did not quite resort to a circular saw to clean my teeth, but it bloody well felt like it, and then I fucked around and had a chicken sandwich for lunch that ripped up the roof of my mouth, so I spent all day yesterday with my teeth and the inside of my mouth aching in a way that wasn’t necessarily bad— like, on that 1-10 scale they like, it’d have been a one or a two– but in terms of sheer persistence was making me absolutely nuts. I had cottage cheese and some loose deli meat last night for dinner last night because the notion of eating anything I’d have to spend much time chewing just seemed entirely unacceptable.

Today I had an eye appointment; those I’ve stayed current on, since they don’t require people to stick their hands in my mouth, which seems safer, but I’m starting to think that I need to go back in time and prevent myself from getting LASIK. The punch line is, at least according to my eye doctor, who was the person who did the LASIK, this was probably coming anyway, and at best might have been faintly aggravated by the LASIK, but I’m having annoying issues with keeping my tear films properly hydrated, despite the fact that I spend half my day every day pouring liquids into my eyes. She flat-out admitted that she doesn’t quite understand what’s going on with me right now, because my vision is varying widely depending on, well, something, but we don’t know what. Like, on one visit I’ll be corrected to 20/10, and then on this one I was at 20/40, and I was at 20/30 on the last one, and the only things that seem to be consistently different are the tear film thicknesses. Today ended with me walking out with two new sets of eyedrops (one medicinal in a fashion that I’m not 100% clear on, another simply an upgrade to the artificial tears I was already using) along with a heat mask that I’m supposed to wear for 15 minutes before bed every night and tiny little plastic plugs inserted into my tear ducts, which were supposed to help me in some way that she explained perfectly clearly at the time and I can no longer repeat. So all day today my eyes have been bugging me.

She was also horrified that my insurance company turned down the sleep study, which … yeah, that’s a whole separate other thing. I feel like I’ve got enough medical issues going on right now without tossing sleep apnea on top. (And suddenly I’m wondering if you can just buy a CPAP, and how expensive such a thing is.)

Anyway, my point is that my everything aches right now and maybe spending all day staring at screens isn’t the smartest move I could be making with my life right now, but, well. We all know how good I am at making decisions.

Woo new face!

IMG_7121Finally got the new glasses today, which was exciting up until the point where I remembered that having a new prescription for my glasses is basically exactly the same as being super duper baked.  I’m spending all my time staring at my hand and the floor seems like it’s farther away than I’m used to it being and there’s this weird haze around the edges of my vision that comes from not having trained my brain to not notice the edges of the new glasses yet.  One interesting development: these lenses have some sort of new coating on them that is supposed to both screen out certain kinds of light emitted by digital screens and sharpen those images, and holy cow my iPhone has never looked so good before.  So I’m staring at my phone like I’ve never seen it in addition to anything else in the world with fine detail.  My old prescription wasn’t that out of date, but it’s been long enough since I’ve changed it that I’m way out of practice, if that makes any sense at all.

Tomorrow I get to go back to the dentist for like the third time in a month.  They’re going to numb me up again and do some sort of horrible procedure to my gums– they’re pretending it’s cleaning-related but I’m pretty sure it’s actually just punishment for having taken so long in between visits.  At any rate, the important part is that they’re going to be numbing me again, so I get to look forward to not being able to feel half of my face for most of the day.    I may actually have to run into work to close out a sale after the procedure, which is going to be awesome fun.  I’ve never tried to close a sale while unable to feel my face before. I’m really excited about it.

What’s on y’all’s agenda for the next couple of days?

Well, that was easy

Pictured: not my tooth

The tooth extraction has basically turned out to be nothing worth talking about, honestly, which isn’t going to stop me from devoting an entire blog post to it.   The most complicated part was convincing the … nurse? not-the-dentist-but-not-clearly-a-hygienist?  Dental assistant?  I dunno, the lady who wasn’t the dentist– that while I appreciated the offer of sunglasses and would happily wear them during the procedure, the idea that the television in the room should be tuned to my needs (“Christ, no, not the news, anything but that”) or that the in-room bluetooth should be playing my own personal pullin’-teeth playlist was utterly unnecessary.  The TV doesn’t even have to be on, and if it’s going to be on my only condition is that it be either not turned to a channel that’s going to provoke rage or muted.  I really don’t need music.

She really had trouble with this idea.  Apparently it’s rare that patients for extractions don’t have media demands while going through the procedure.  Personally, I don’t get it.

Anyway, the nurse smeared my tongue and the area of the tooth with some sort of numbing gel and left me alone for a few minutes and then the dentist came in.  We talked about Hamilton for a few minutes and then he did … something inside my mouth for maybe a minute and said “Okay, all done!” and left.

I was surprised to learn that a tooth extraction takes less than a minute; I hadn’t felt a damned thing.  I expressed my surprise (“Holy shit, that’s it?”) and then discovered that, no, he hadn’t even touched the tooth, I’d just received three numbing shots to complement the numbing gel; the various non-dentists in the room were vastly entertained by my theory that the dentist declaring “all done” meant that “all” was “done” and that I could go home.

It was not, and I could not.

That said, the actual extraction took maybe five minutes.  He warned me beforehand that he suspected he might have to break the tooth to get it all out; as it was maybe 97% of it came right out and then he had to do a touch more fiddling around to get a tiny piece of root that stayed behind.  There was no pain whatsoever.  There wasn’t even any real sense of pressure or discomfort or even tugging.  If he hadn’t shown me the tooth I don’t know that I’d have believed he removed it, since I couldn’t feel anything inside my mouth– it was hours before I could actually feel the hole the tooth left behind with my tongue.  My appointment was at 10:00 and I was texting my wife that I was finished at 10:30.

Several hours of lazing about the house and occasionally switching out my gauze ensued; as of this moment the extraction was ten and a half hours ago and while it’s been a bit obnoxious I still can’t say that I’ve felt any actual pain at any point.  I ate ice cream and applesauce and had macaroni and cheese for dinner.  I’m going to take some painkillers before bed strictly as prophylaxis but I’m not sure I really need them.

So, yeah.  Kinda feel like an idiot that that had me more nervous than my gallbladder surgery did ten years ago.  I mean, shit still has time to go south if I lose the blood clot or something, but so far this has been cake.

In which I annoy a medical professional

Carie_0fada0_3648754So.  Uh.  Oops?

You may recall my misadventures in corn chippery over the weekend.  The doctor at the ER who checked me out said she thought my tooth might be cracked, so I made an appointment with an actual dentist like a big boy to have it looked at.  Now, this person is “my dentist” in the sense that ten years ago when the exact same thing happened to me (possibly not involving corn chips) his office was the one I went to.  I’m not afraid of the dentist, I swear, I just … don’t prioritize it?  So the last time I was in there was the last time I was in there.

Anyway, what I figured would happen was that they’d look at the tooth, do some X-rays, maybe a cleaning, and then make a recommendation for what to do about the tooth in the longer term.  And if they tell me that the tooth needs to come out, so be it.  I’m grown, I can handle a little tooth pull.  It’ll be fine.

So. Dental assistant gently chided me for the length of time in between visits (fair) inspected my teeth (expected) took some X-rays (still following the script) and then called the dentist in, and then the whole damn thing went sideways.

“So, we’re gonna take that out today,” is how he started the conversation.

“Uh,” I said.  “Today?”

“Right now,” he said, gesturing at a pile of tools behind him.

“About that,” I say, realizing that in a very real way my entire life has been leading up to the next three sentences that are about to come out of my mouth, “It’s my 10th anniversary?  And I have reservations at an expensive steakhouse and tickets to Hamilton tonight?  I am not throwing away my shot.”

And of course neither of them get it.

“What are you saying?” he asks.

“We are not going to be pulling any of my teeth today.  I intend to be eating a large steak in about eight hours.  I’ll make an appointment for next week.”

… it didn’t go over well.

So, serious question: I had not for a single second anticipated the possibility that absent an imminent dental emergency they were going to just go and yank a tooth out of my mouth on no notice.  All of my training with medical procedures for my entire life has led me to believe that this is the decision flowchart:

  1. Make medical appointment to discuss/diagnose problem.
  2. Are you dying or in danger of imminent death?  If yes, go to 4.  If not, go to 3.
  3. Make second appointment sometime in the future to remedy problem.
  4. Do surgery, or radiation, or whatever.

So apparently I need to add a 2a, which reads are we gonna pull a tooth? and if the answer is yes you also go to 4.

Anyway, I stuck to my guns– turns out it’s awfully hard to convince me to let you yank a tooth out of my mouth if I didn’t wake up today prepared for tooth extraction and have very expensive uncancellable plans that will be totally screwed up if you try to pull my teeth– and now I have an appointment next Thursday for a tooth extraction.

Which I’m sure will be all sorts of fun and generate at least one more blog post.

(Please, somebody, speak up in comments and tell me if I should have been expecting this– because I literally hadn’t even considered the idea that they’d go straight to an extraction without specifically scheduling it.  Am I nuts?)