Letters from planet Lortab
I want to tell you that I was brave, that it didn't hurt, that it was an easy procedure and that I came home and laughed about it afterward. The problem is that none of these statements are true. The truth falls more between sobering and horrifying, and does not reflect well on me. I cried through most of the procedure, it hurt badly, and as soon as I got home I downed my first round of Lortab even though my procedural anesthetic was still in place -- because I needed to numb the memories of the procedure as quickly as possible.The dentist asked me afterwards how I felt. I'd swabbed the sides of my face to hide the tear tracks, and held my hands out toward him in silent answer. "Sweaty palms?" I shook my head. He looked closer, and saw the marks: eight half-moons, four in each palm. "Oh."
I'd been joking and teasing before the procedure, but no more. "Can I go now?" I whispered.
"No. I need you to stay here for a few minutes, to make sure you don't have any unusual blood loss, to make sure you're okay when you stand up. Once I'm sure, I'll send you off to get your pain prescription filled. Considering how much we had to give you, I think you'll be numb for quite a few hours."
By the time the procedure had ended, he'd given me enough injected anesthetic to numb most of the Western hemisphere. (If you bit your tongue Monday afternoon, it was likely my fault.) You don't want to know what you sound like when you've had insufficient anesthetic prior to beginning a tooth extraction. What comes out doesn't resemble words.
If I had to do it over again, I would not be a Tough Girl, and instead be sane and jump up and down and yell things like YOU'RE DAMN RIGHT YOU'RE GOING TO SEDATE ME! DRUGS! DRUGS! EARLY AND OFTEN!
Dr. Toney told me afterwards that I'd been a good patient. I considered my memories and shuddered at the idea of what a bad extraction was like.
* * * * *
I've spent most of the hours since then in a narcotics-induced fog. I've had conversations with Brian, Suzan, and Mary that I only dimly remember. Quiet, comforting voices in my ear. The knead of cat's paws in my lap. The afghan my grandmother crocheted for me - the one I always sleep under when I'm sick. Jeff's quiet omnipresence on the love seat next to me, a comforting touch that brought soup or drinks if I asked.
The sibilant drone of nonsense television.
I don't have stitches. Despite its curvy groovy roots, the tooth came out essentially in one piece, although a couple of bone chips took a few hours to fall out. I know now just how non-functional the tooth really was; I am beginning to be able to resume chewing with both sides of my mouth, and I can see very little difference now that the back molar is gone. My face is not swollen, though my gum is heavily so; the dentist assures me that the hole will slowly but surely refill and smooth itself back out.
I'm learning to work around the constraints of Planet Lortab. After taking a pill, I have approximately thirty minutes of standard consciousness left; after that point, I am wrapped in a fluffy psychological blanket for the next four hours. After the first thirty minutes, the next hour is the most surreal; I am generally unable to focus both eyes and just lie there, quiet, drifting. The next couple of hours, if I wake up, are gradually more lucid. Four hours later, the pain is back, and I take another.
Repeat, and that's a Tuesday on planet Lortab.
Tomorrow I'll switch to nonprescription pain relievers. If rest well tonight and eat well tomorrow, I think I'll be able to do yoga with Mary tomorrow afternoon and eat sushi with friends tomorrow night. (Advice from Suzan: skip the wasabi, silly domesticat!) I realize I'm pushing myself off of medications rather quickly, but I'm fully aware that I have another medical procedure coming up on Tuesday (my tubal ligation, or as I've taken to calling it, my spaying) and I'd like to make sure I am as well as humanly possible before then.
For now, though, the watch says I have about another ten minutes of full consciousness before I drift away into my warm fuzzy pharmaceutical blanket. G'night, kids.