A mouthful of stitches (part 3)

For part 1, click here. For part 2, click here.

Virginia, USA – Lack of wisdom (teeth)

While visiting my family in Ecuador for Christmas after my first semester of college, my parents convinced me to visit the dentist there because it is much cheaper than in the United States. I just went to find out if I had any cavities that needed to be filled, but instead the dentist told me I needed to get my wisdom teeth removed.

I was very upset by the news. Two of my wisdom teeth had already grown in and were not causing me any trouble. But the dentist insisted they would begin to get painful as I got older and would need to be removed either way.

I returned to the United States for my second semester of college and put off making an appointment to get my wisdom teeth taken out for as long as possible. The idea of having my teeth taken out terrified me because when I was 15 years old, I had gotten one of my teeth removed when I got braces in Ecuador. The process was very painful. I was given a shot in my gum and was awake for the whole procedure. I heard the dentist clamp onto my tooth and watched him pull on it to get it out. Also, because he did not remove a tooth on the other side of my mouth, my teeth shifted to where they were not centered in my mouth and now I have to live with an off-centered smile. Needless to say, I did not want to repeat the experience.

Tooth Gap

After getting my tooth pulled, I had a gap in my teeth for a while, which can be seen in this picture. Here I am holding up a certificate where my last name was spelled wrong.

I tried convincing myself and even others that I did not need to get my wisdom teeth taken out. They were just fine where they were.

Over the summer, I worked at a camp and one of the counselors was studying to be a dentist. So, I even asked her if it was absolutely necessary for my wisdom teeth to be taken out. She took a quick look and told me that it was definitely necessary because they would start becoming more painful as I got older. After that, I decided to finally schedule my appointment in August after getting back to Virginia from camp.

Camp 2012

The crazy camp counselors from summer 2012 in Toccoa Falls, Georgia.

I was staying at my grandfather Milton Brown’s house at the time, but he was in Ecuador visiting his friends and my family. So, my aunt Becky Smith, who lives a street down from my grandpa, kindly offered to take me to the dentist and drive me home after my procedure.

Aunt Becky

Aunt Becky Smith

We arrived at the dentist office and the dentist gave us all of the information we needed to know about the procedure and what I was allowed to eat afterwards. I was relieved to find out I was going to be put completely under, so I would be asleep for the whole procedure.

So my aunt said she would be back to pick me up after my procedure and I got in the dentist chair.

The dentist asked me if I had ever had an IV put in my arm before and I responded that I had gotten one put in the vein in my right hand. But the dentist prepped my left arm to receive the IV instead. However, when he stuck the needle in, my vein collapsed and he had to take the IV out. The second time, he decided to put the IV in my right hand where I had had an IV placed before and it worked.

The next thing I remember is waking up after the procedure and being led to the door. The dentist informed me that he had successfully removed all four of my wisdom teeth and had given me six stitches total to help my gums heal.

I had heard many horror stories about people acting goofy from the anesthesia, but I was surprisingly aware of my surroundings. I was just really tired.

My aunt was waiting outside and she asked if I needed help walking to the car, but I told her I was not having any trouble moving around. So we got in the car and I slept the entire way home.

When we got back to Grandpa’s house, my aunt helped me into the house and in bed. She made sure I had my cellphone close by so I could call her if I needed anything and then went back to her house to take care of her family.

I slept most of that day and the next. I only got out of bed to go to the bathroom and get food from the fridge. Since school had not started yet, I was able to catch up on all of the TV shows I watched at the time and I began reading “A Tale of Two Cities.”

For the first few days, I was only allowed to drink liquids and soft foods. My absolute favorite was a mango ice cream that my aunt bought for me. It was delicious! And the cold from the ice cream felt good on my sore gums.

Unfortunately, about two days after the procedure, I developed an infection in my bottom gums and had to go to the free clinic to get some antibiotics. On top of the antibiotics, I had to take two different types of painkillers; one for mild pain and one for intermediate pain. If I was in intense pain, I could take both painkillers to relieve the ache.

After four days of being stuck in bed, I got really bored. As I was complaining to my friend Mark Jones about not having anything to do, he said he was moving his stuff from his old apartment to his parents’ house and offered to pick me up so I could join him.

Mark and I

Mark Jones (in the back) rescued me from boredom.

The next day, I woke up with my mouth in a lot of pain. I did not want to be uncomfortable while I was with my friend, so I decided to take both painkillers just as he pulled up to the house.

When we arrived at his old apartment, I began feeling a little dizzy and sleepy, but the pain was gone. We went inside, up the stairs and into his room. I tried lifting something to take back down to his car, but the room began to spin.

“Are you OK?” Mark asked.

“I’m fine,” I said. “I took two painkillers before you picked me up and I think they are starting to kick in.”

Mark laughed and told me I could just sit in the room while he moved his stuff to his car.

Though I was dizzy and out of it for most of the day, I was grateful that Mark rescued me from my boredom.

About a week after the procedure, I went back to the dentist so he could take out my stitches.

With that, the total number of stitches I have gotten in my mouth comes to exactly 30, all in a span of 14 years. Can you top that?

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