I heard footsteps as the dentist approached the seat I sat in, and I shifted my eyes from the fascinating landscape on the wall. “I’ve looked at your X-rays,” he told me. “And it is recommended that you get your wisdom teeth removed.”
My stomach tightened. I’ve already had a bad experience with teeth extraction from the dentist at the age of seven, and the thought of having to go through it again daunted me.
“My wisdom teeth aren’t bothering me,” was my response. There shouldn’t be a need to have them removed if there weren’t any problems, right? Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case for me. As it turned out, two of my wisdom teeth had already begun to crowd the rest of my teeth. From what the dentist told me, all four would need to be removed, otherwise, the crowding would continue and cause me to be under a lot of pain; this wasn’t good news for me at the time, and being someone who’s never been fond of pain didn’t make the news any less unpleasant. One of my biggest phobias in my life was, ironically, surgery.
After I had left the dentist’s office, I continued to stare at the referral given to me with the contact information for the oral surgeon. The realization hadn’t fully hit me yet, but looking back, it was probably a good thing; the last thing I wanted was to create a scene by panicking in public.
When I returned home, I set the referral aside, for I was not ready to call the number listed on it. I decided the only way to ease my nervousness was to start looking up any information regarding the surgery. Not only would this inform me, but also perhaps diminish any nervousness still building in me based on other accounts that may have been nothing more than myths used to intimidate others.
After I’ve read some general information available, I began to feel eased and more informed. Once I had enough confidence to call and schedule a consultation a few weeks later, an odd feeling presented itself: curiosity. I wanted to see how the procedure was done in order to determine for myself if the remaining nervousness I still had was reasonable, or not. I had decided to watch a video someone uploaded onto YouTube, and made sure the cursor of the mouse was positioned over the ‘back’ button in case the video became too graphic.
Surprisingly, I managed to sit through the entire video, despite the fact that I became grossed out. The duration of video wasn’t long, which told me I wouldn’t be in the operating room for very long. It also helped me to put things into perspective, in the sense that I needed to let go of any uncertainty that I still had about the operation; it wasn’t like I would be placed into the care of an inexperienced oral surgeon, and it was likely whoever would perform the procedure could answer any questions I would have for him or her.
The morning of the surgery had come. I arrived at the office and signed my name on the sheet attached to the clipboard at the front desk. The assistant smiled and told me to take a seat. Nervousness mounted every time I heard a name called, and I knew that it was only a matter of time until I would hear my name. I shifted my focus back to the book I brought with me until my name was called. After taking a deep breath, I rose from my seat and followed the assistant into the room and sat in the chair.
As I waited in the chair, I began to feel anxious. I wasn’t there for the sake of more waiting; I was there to have the operation and be done with it. My wisdom teeth began to cause pain just then, and all I could do at this point was hope that the surgeon would see me soon. A drilling noise could be heard close by, and I hoped that there would be enough anesthesia to put me out completely; there was no way I would want to hear or feel the drilling in my mouth.
The oral surgeon came in, and after I had signed the release form, I was moved into a different room where the procedure would take place. The last thing I recalled was the slight pinch as the IV was injected into my left arm, and then the oxygen mask was placed onto my face.
“Now start breathing through your nose and just relax,” was the last thing I heard the surgeon instruct me to do. For a while nothing happened, but then I began to feel lightheaded, and I glanced up at the ceiling and noticed the world around me start to blur.
As I started to drift back into alertness, something sharp poked the side of my mouth and caused me to involuntarily flinch. The surgeon asked me if I needed more anesthesia and, somehow, I managed to coherently reply, “Yes.”
“Okay, here’s some more; we’re just about done here,” was the last thing I heard before the anesthesia pulled me into another deep sleep.
Later, I woke up and found myself back in the first chair I had been sitting in before. I felt groggy and disoriented; the only thing I wanted to do at that point was to go home and sleep.
The rest is hard to recall, but after a week being on Vicodin, I began to slowly recover. In this experience, I learned not to allow myself to fear the unknown or solely rely on secondhand information. It also opened my eyes in that having this surgery wasn’t as terrible as many people make it out to be, and best of all, I don’t have to go through with it ever again.
One of my essays I wrote for my English class. Our topic was to discuss a life experience that stood out to us and what we've learned from it. I chose to write about the surgery I had back in November of 2009, and I thought I'd share this all of you.
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