I am missing a tooth tonight. Not just any tooth--the wisdom one on the upper right. It’s been with me over fifty years, and I don’t think many people keep their wisdom teeth (or wisdom) that long. Two of mine were impacted when I was in my twenties and resulted in an embarrassing late-night surgery during which I remember behaving badly. A distant relative (his sister married my ex--you figure out the relationship). He scared me badly, giving a deadline of 30 days before excruciating pain swept over me.I caved and had the tooth extracted.
Since then ‘ve had to fight to protect that last tooth occasionally. My dentist wasn’t as successful in scaring me. The tooth held on, though I was told it had decay and could became excruciating. I said I’d call when it did; he said he wouldn’t answer the phone on weekends. I thought it was all a bit light-hearted but I’ve learned in the last week many physicians are not light-hearted about much.
The looming hip replacement surgery finally doomed my tooth. It is a precept of replacement surgery that there be no infection in the body, and the tooth could introduce bacteria at surgery. Therre also has to be a certain amount of time elapse between dental procedures and surgery so today was the last day I could have the tooth pulled in time for a January 19 surgery. So I was literally rushed into it with less time than usual to build up my customary anxiety.
One of the things I tell myself when dreading a procedure is to think about the time when I’m on the other side of it. So now from the other side I’ll tell you so far the extraction hasn’t been a problem—no pain, no swelling, minimal drainage. And I would venture to say I was a good patient. Growing up in a doctor’ family, I was always told how important it was to b a “good” patient.
Tomorrow, an MRI—gosh will I be glad to be on the other side of that! Then a pre-op check-in, Christmas and ho ho! ho! It’s surgery time.