After they'd been with me for roughly 32.5 years, I got all four of my wisdom teeth extracted yesterday. 3 of the 4 had come through cleanly, so they were actually pretty straightforward. The fourth was crooked and hadn't really poked through, so it took some doings.
But the basic process went like this:
- Get nitrous
- Get Novocain
- Yank on tooth
- Yank some more
- Tooth pops out
It was about a 45 minute visit, total, including the 5 minutes at the end coming down from the nitrous.
I think most interestingly for me, though, was my body's reaction to what was going on.
In somewhat opposition to the crap I eat, I take reasonably good care of my body. I drink a lot of water, get a lot of vitamins, and get a pretty good amount of exercise. So, when I was presented with the "get it all done in 45 minutes" option (rather than the go under and be useless all day option), my immediate reaction was "I'm tough, let's do this."
And, honestly, it wasn't that bad.
But ... there were a few moments I wasn't sure I'd make it. After the nitrous kicked in, I was trying hard to breathe through my nose. I don't think that's the easiest thing for me (I've got some snoring issues from time to time), but I was holding my own.
As the first few minutes went by, before the procedure really started, I started feeling my heartbeat very quickly. I wasn't really sure if this was the nitrous, or my body freaking out. I somehow was able to calm myself down. I slowed by breathing a bit (and I think the assistant turned up how much gas was flowing through the mask), and I was able to get my body under control.
It happened again, a little later in the procedure, when I had the doctor and assistant in my mouth, a mask covering my nose, and my entire field of vision was arms and tools and tubes, with someone hold my jaw while someone else was cranking away on a tooth.
My body--justifiably--started freaking out. Thankfully, I had my headphones on. I turned my music up louder, closed my eyes, and again, just tried to slow my breathing.
The mind/body relationship is a pretty remarkable thing. I had sort of anticipated the nitrous experience would just be autopilot. I'd have very little idea of what was going on, they'd yank some teeth, and then I'd come back down to earth with some swollen cheeks and missing four teeth. That wasn't it at all. Instead, I feel like my mind was 100% in place, but just not quite in sync with my body. Which was both a good thing--no pain--and a bad thing--the couple of times my body freaked out and my mind was slow to reign it in.
I tend not to be big on pharmaceuticals; I use very little ibuprofen/aspirin, try to avoid taking cold medicine unless I have to, etc. (I don't want to create a superbug.) But I'm glad I went with nitrous (and the ability to be in control of my extraction) than general anesthesia, and waking up groggy and sore.
That being said, I'm feeling pretty good sitting here a few hours after taking some vicoprofen. Having heard some horror stories about wisdom teeth (including my girlfriend's), the fact that I think I'll be back to normal on Sunday makes me feel pretty lucky.
Though, obviously, a good bit dumber.