Monday, February 18, 2008

The losing of wisdom
As a struggling student, my wisdom teeth and resulting face aches had got so bad that I was forced to visit the Dental School in the hopes that they'd consider my complaint urgent and valid enough for a vaguely capable dental student to work on. It was either submit myself as a guinea pig for free dental treatment, or perform sexual favours in bus shelters, and I didn't fancy my chances at the latter option.

The dentist who examined me agreed that I was a case study worth giving to one of his students. Each tooth was literally growing sideways, with the twisted roots butting up against my other teeth, trying to push them further to the front. No wonder my eyes felt as though they were being forced out of their sockets. Despite being marked as urgent', it was another four months before my day was due. I was ready 120 days of chewing Panadeine pills like Pez had seriously worn thin, as had my pain threshold.

The actual process of removing my teeth fully conscious, and in the chair was an incredibly terrifying mixture of Sweeney Todd and The Shining but without any stunt doubles. The student performing the removal didn't have the social skills (or was it the confidence?) to introduce himself or look into my eyes and the nurse continually had to interrupt what he was doing, grab his arm and say, "Hang on a minute there mate. You might want to rethink that move," before he'd pause, sigh in annoyance and continue doing it the way he wanted to.

He did, however, let the nurse administer all TWELVE needles of anaesthetic because, in his words, he was ".....dying for a leak and would be back in a tick." My eyes started misting over with tears of pain and that was before he came back, clamped my teeth with some godforsaken set of dentists' pliers and kept yanking my head off the chair and letting it land again with a bump over and over and over again in his futile attempts to yank the offending tooth out of my mouth. Eventually, he gave up all pretence of caring about my humanity and climbed onto the chair, put his knees on my shoulders and yanked at my teeth with the full force of both hands.

My eyes were now firmly squeezed shut out of sheer horror: the last thing I wanted to see was the bloodied reflection of my stretched-out-mouth in his protective goggles. "Calm down, dear," the nurse tapped on my forehead more than once to get me to listen. My breathing was ragged and panting and tears were now rolling down the sides of my face and pooling in my ears. Any sobs or moaning that emanated from me were muffled by now having two pairs of hands and implements working away at my teeth, with the corners of my lips starting to tear and bleed into the general chaos. They were too busy to suction out any fluid with the little metal tube thingy and the warm fluid slid steadily down my throat, threatening to come back up again a short while later.

Hours, minutes or was it days after, I was free to go. My mouth felt as though it had hosted a particularly violent and drunken mosh pit at a death metal festival and the disinterested dental student's back was already half way out of the door before I could unsteadily rise to my feet and shake the tears out of my ears.

My clothes were soaked through with terror-sweat and I blindly stumbled my way along the grim grey corridor back to the innocuous safety of the waiting room where my then boyfriend Love Chunks was ready to take me home.

As I reached the swinging hospital doors, my sneaker must have caught on the aluminum plate at the bottom and I literally fell through, landing on all fours in front of about 20 other victims/patients waiting for their turn. It was the last straw for me: I opened my mouth to have a big, self-pitying wail, when the cotton pads staunching the bleeding dropped onto the floor like four angry polyps. There was a collective gasp of horror from the onlookers (one guy even dropped his Readers Digest) and as Love Chunks rushed over to help me up, the blood ran down my chin, Vampire style. You could have heard a pin drop as he walked me out of the building.

Three weeks later, I was finally able to open my mouth wide enough to eat a cheese sandwich. Love Chunks fondly reminisces about those 21 glorious days of peace and quiet......


Bungi said...

I've got some teeth growing the wrong way too... And i think i shall pay for the extraction... Thanks for the heads-up.

franzy said...

Fuck me. I reckon I had almost the same thing happen. Except that I was twelve and my anaesthetic worked. Those four back teeth came out like butter and I felt mildly embarrassed after all the crying and pleading for drugs and generals I'd done with the two overly-jovial fourth-year students.
I did, however, get shunted back into the waiting room with a mouth full of cotton. When my cheeks were full to burst I went to the very small men's room to spit it out. The three other guys took one look at the metric mouthful of blood I spat into the sink and left without a whisper.

Heh heh heh.

River said...

My daughter (also a Kath.)had her wisdom teeth out in day surgery at a private hospital. Wise girl even paid for it herself. She was driven home by her older sister, fell into bed only to get up 1/2 an hour later and wander about the kitchen crashing into things, insisting all the while, "I'm fine, I'm awake, I'm okay". We guided her back to bed where she stayed asleep for the next six hours and finally properly woke up with no memory of her sleepwalking.

ashleigh said...

That sure as heck tops my story.

I'm a freak, I've only got (well, had) 2 wisdom teeth. This clearly says something about me.

Anyhow, one was impacted, growing sideways and all that. I was at Uni at the time, and had to schedule getting it out during a term break.

I'd heard all the horror stories of people getting it done in hospital under a general, and waking up to find bruises on their chest. so I didn't want that.

My dentist took out the dodgy one in the chair. This comprised a jolly good dose of anaesthetic, then cutting the gum open with a scalpel, and then using the drill to cut the tooth into little pieces.

I sat there getting progressively more tense for about 2 hours, with bits of blood and bone flying out of my mouth. When they had it all out, a quick sewing up and I was done.

I made it home, and then my head swelled up like a balloon, so big I could barely eat or talk. And this was only one taken out!

A visit back a few days later "just for a check" resulted in a dose of antibiotics being needed because it had become infected.

During that check, he said "you need to make a booking to get the other one out". Mmmmph, I agreed, but I put off doing until a little later.

That was 23 years ago, and I still haven't been back.

In fact, after that episode I didn't visit a dentist for over 15 years. When I did they were slightly miffed at the amount of time they had to spend taking plaque and stuff off. Shame, I reckon it was a layer of protection.

I still have no fillings, though! The miracle of fluoride.

Wyn Richards said...

I'm think I'm going to postpone my next dentist appointment, for at least another 3 years!

De B said...

My wisdom teeth did not grow at all, in fact I am 2 molar short.
A funny story to share though:
My friend, same a Milly Moo, volunteered to be Dental Student's guinea pig. Everything went well until the Professor walked in, pushed the student, yelling,"OH MY GOD!!! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE!!!!"

Terence McDanger said...

Er...ok. I concede. I'm a total pussy in comparison to all THAT!