Tuesday, June 7, 2011

"What Price, Stupidity?"

In 2008, I wrote a humorous essay in response to a writing prompt to "tell about your worst dental experience, ever." My story was about having my wisdom teeth pulled when I lived in Brazil. (Actually the procedure itself went fine. It was the getting home when I was all doped up on an anesthetic that was the problem.) I called it "What Price, Wisdom?" (It can be found on my other blog by clicking on the title.) 

As of last Friday, I have a new dental story about oral surgery to repair receding gums. 

The trouble began before I left home. My appointment was for 7:30a in the nearest large metro area. I had planned to leave at 5:50a to drive 45 minutes to my niece's place where I would park. From there, I could walk less than 2 blocks to catch a bus at 6:45 which would give me a free ride with my Medicare card. The bus would arrive at 7:20 leaving me more than enough time for the short walk to the dentist's office. For me this was preferable to driving into the city, finding a parking spot, and robbing a bank to pay for parking ---with a little leftover for the dental procedure.

But time got away from me and I suddenly realized it was 5:50 ---time to leave. I had taken a shower, applied makeup, and eaten breakfast, but still had to brush my teeth, don my shirt, grab a water bottle, and fill a cooler with ice packs (for my face after surgery) so I left 10 minutes later than I had planned. I was speeding and gripping the steering wheel for the entire 45-minute drive, afraid I would miss the bus. Of course if I had, I could have parked in the city. I ran from my niece's to the bus stop and crossed the street to the stop just as the bus arrived. Whew! Just made it!

The periodontist removed tissue from the roof of my mouth and grafted it on my gum line above or below three teeth. The "discomfort" (as it was understated in the dental brochure) started with the injection of novocain (or whatever numbing agent the dentist used) ---I thought the top of my head would come off from the pain. But after it took effect, the rest wasn't too terrible ---just a lot of pressure and the stitching thread cut the corner of my mouth a bit ---and of course there was blood. The procedure lasted about 90 minutes and by the time I reluctantly handed over a sack of money for the procedure and left with the ice pack the assistant gave me to use until I returned to my car & the additional icepacks in my cooler there ---I was feeling rather beat up. 

Little did I know that "beat up" was the perfect term. 

Despite following instructions to keep ice on my face most of the next 24 hours, by Friday afternoon I had a small light violet bruise between my chin and lower lip ---about the size of a dime. I bruise rather easily, so this was no surprise. My face was only slightly swollen.

By Friday night, the bruise had grown to about the size of a half dollar. 

By Saturday morning, the bruise had spread half way down my neck and half the distance from my mouth to my right ear and my face had swollen so I looked like a chipmunk with cheeks full of seeds. By Saturday night, I also had a black eye and the bruises weren't a pale violet anymore, they were a deep reddish purple.

I am afraid to leave the house. My face is really awful enough to scare children. Although the swelling has gone down and the bruising covers a smaller area than it did previously, from a distance much of my face and neck resembles raw meat. I am concerned that neighbors might call the police to report possible domestic abuse. But, the only one who beat me up was my dentist. 

My dental plan didn't cover the procedure. 

Imagine putting out more than one and a half month's of my Social Security income to be tortured! What was I thinking?  

"What Price, Stupidity?"

On my other blog, you can find my story about my previous worst dental experience:
"What price, Wisdom?"