I keep wanting to refer to my stitches as threads, because that’s what they’re called in German and it’s what I’ve been saying to friends and colleagues here all week. Come on brain, don’t forget your English!
Well, the stitches are gone. Part of one thread (well, it’s more like wire really) actually fell out in the tram on the way to my appointment. I told the surgeon, and he said “It’s as if it knew!”.
The surgeon was most uncommunicative, as he has been pretty much the whole time. Getting information out of him is like getting blood form a stone! I told him about the weird pulling sensation, and he just asked “Is it getting worse?” I said no, and that it also wasn’t painful (which it wasn’t) and he was like “well, should be okay then” and started coming at me with his implements. I then said my colleague had mentioned that she had the same thing and it seemed to get better once the stitches were out, to which he said “well, let’s get them out then!” Impatient much?! The pulling went fairly quickly, but it stung! He could have warned me before he started snipping around in my mouth!
Once it was done, Mr. surgeon said “right, that’s it. We’ll inform your Hausarzt (like a GP) what’s been done. Oh, and come back in three months so we can have another look at the wounds”. “Umm, can I eat everything again now?” I asked. “Yes, everything’s just as before now. Have a good evening!” Anyone else getting the feeling he wanted me to hurry up and leave? Well, leave I did. Made my appointment for three months time and got out of there.
Three months seemed like kind of a long time, but I googled and apparantly that’s how long it takes for the wounds to be fully healed (although you don’t have to follow the wisdom tooth diet for all that time… thank goodness! After three months, I think I would literally have starved to death!). The Internets say after three weeks repair tissue will have filled the socket – I guess I’ll just have holes in my mouth until then – and in three months new bone will have formed in the socket. And presumably the new bone is what he wants to look at in three months…
Hopefully now swallowing will start to get less annoying!
**Warning: If you have a problem with reading about blood and pain, now would be a good time to stop! You can come back another day when I write about less gory topics. Also, this is going to be a summary of 3.5 days, so it may get rather long. Now no saying I didn’t warn you!**
Day 1 (surgery day)
I got up bright and early to eat a bowl of Fruit & Nut Weetabix… who knew when I would feel like eating again? I wasn’t sure whether I would actually be able to finish the bowl, but at this point I wasn’t too nervous (surprisingly) and I actually managed to eat them all. I also drank two glasses of water – I was thirsty! Jan had taken the morning off so I wouldn’t have to come home from my appointment alone, so we set off together. The waiting room was much less full than it had been when I went for the consultation (probably because it was so early!) and my turn came fairly soon.
Jan came in with me for the initial “do you have any questions?” to make sure I understood everything, then left while they did the actual surgery. I had taken my earphones along so I could listen to music while the teeth were being removed, but I totally forgot to get my BlackBerry out of my bag. However, to be honest I don’t think I’d even have been able to hear the music over the sound of the implements. One tooth was almost completely sideways ad the other was slightly angled so this was not a case of simple pulling. There was cutting and loud, loud drilling. Not pleasant! It was over fairly quickly though.
Once the operation was done, the dentist shoved a piece of gauze on each wound and told me to bite down on them… except I couldn’t because my mouth was completely numb and I had no idea whether I was biting down or not! My bottom lip felt like it was huge and possibly made of rubber! Totally bizarre. I was given two cold gel packs and taken for an x-ray, then sent to wait for a bit while my prescription and things were prepared. After a few minutes, my name was called and I was given a sick note for two days (after that was the weekend), a prescription for Ibuprofen and a follow-up appointment so the surgeon could check the wounds. Then we were on our way. Even though I’d only had a local anaesthetic and no sedatives or anything, I felt kind of out of it (I guess not being able to feel half your face will do that?) so I was very glad Jan was with me. I also couldn’t talk at all… partly because my mouth was full of gauze, but also because I had no control over my numb tongue.
I had been told I could take the gauze out when I got home, so I did. It turned out I was still bleeding though (my top became a victim of the great wisdom tooth removal of 2012 when I drooled blood all over it without realizing), so Jan went to the chemist and bought me more gauze. I spent the next few hours biting down on that without the bleeding stopping then half an hour without any gauze to see if the bleeding would stop by itself. I then tried more gauze, leaving it in for about 2 hours then finally gave up and decided to let it bleed. The sheet I was given told me to contact the surgery if the bleeding didn’t stop or was very strong (which it wasn’t) but didn’t say at which point it would be considered “not stopping”, so I turned to Dr. Google, which seemed to think I should contact my dentist if I was still bleeding after 24 hours. Since I had my follow-up appointment the next day, I decidednot to worry too much. The bleeding seemed to have pretty much stopped by 10 p.m.
I was told not to eat or drink anything until the anaesthetic had worn off, but the sides of my mouth started to hurt a lot before the feeling was totally back in my lips, so I decided to ignore that and have a painkiller – which involved drinking water. Swallowing hurt!! Between that and the yukky taste of blood, I really didn’t feel like eating or drinking that day. I tried to take the occasionally mouthful of water (accompanied by cries of ow, ow, ow!) and basically spent the entire day wrapped in a blanket in front of the TV with either a cool gel pad or an ice pack wrapped in a t-shirt shoved on the side of my face. After Jan came home, I wanted to take another pain killer but decided I’d better at least try to get something in my stomach first. I sipped a smoothie and managed to drink the equivalent of about a mouthful… in 20 minutes! Then I took my painkiller. The instructions from the surgery said to resume oral hygiene as soon as possible, so before bed I tried to brush my teeth… very difficult considering I could barely open my mouth! I also wasn’t supposed to spit, so I had to kind of let stuff trickle out into the sink. Rinsing the extraction sites was off the cards for 24 hours too, so I made sure my rinsing water only hit the teeth. Not easy! Between my painkiller and an icepack, I was able to sleep for about half an hour, then Jan came in with two gel pads and a teatowel, which he proceeded to use to strap the gel pads to my face. I then fell alseep for 2 hours, until a mixture of pain and the teatowel falling off woke me at 5 a.m. I went and fetched a cold ice pack and after a while drifted off again.
If I hadn’t had my follow-up appointment, I probably wouldn’t have bothered getting dressed at all on Friday. But I did have the appointment, so I was up, showered and dressed bright and early (8 am appointment). By this stage, I looked like a hamster and it seemed something had started bleeding again overnight. Needless to say, I did not feel like eating! My appointment was at 8 and I was out of the surgery by 10 past! I told the doctor about the bleeding, and he said it was normally for some blood to seep through for the first few days. He then had a look in my mouth and said he could see it really was just seeping and not proper bleeding, so all was good. Also the wounds looked to be healing well. I was told to keep cooling, make an appointment for next Thursday to get the stitches out and sent on my way.
Back home I changed back into my pyjamas and went to lie down for a bit. I hadn’t picked up my prescription the day before because we had non-prescription Ibuprofen at home and had decided I should try with that first (Jan didn’t want even more medicines lying around), but now I decided I wanted the stronger one so I hopefully wouldn’t have to take pills as often (swallowing still hurt!). Once the chemist’s opened, Jan went and picked up my new painkillers for me then went to work. I managed to sleep for about half an hour then, during a roughly ten minute period where swallowing was merely uncomfortable, I ate two or three spoonfuls of icecream… my first food in over 4 hours! After the icecream, I took the advice of the Internet and my mother and did a warm salt water rinse. I wasn’t sure whether I was allowed to rinse properly yet, so I did it very gently, tilting my head to the sides to get water into the corners where it was needed. I’m still not sure how much salt water actually made it to the wounds, but I tried! Later, after lots more TV watching, I tried some more ice cream and when Jan came home he made pumpkin soup (from a packet). I had to request a teaspoon in place of the normal one he had given me and the wound on the left still killed with every swallow, but I managed half the bowl before given up. Shortly after, I went and brushed my teeth and went to bed – eating was exhausting!
I was woken up by pain at around 8, so I took a painkiller and pressed an ice pack to my face while I waited for it to work. Jan had an extra choir practice in preparation for today’s concert, so he went out fairly early, after bringing me a fresh ice pack and a glass of water. I didn’t manage to fall back to sleep, but stayed in bed for a while reading. Eventually I found the energy to go to the kitchen and fecth some ice cream – the one bright side of this whole ordeal is that nobody can judge me for having ice cream for breakfast! By now the bleeding had stopped completely and I was able to enjoy my food without the taste of blood. Well, as much as one can enjoy food while swallowing still hurts! Today, it was the wound on the right that hurt when I swallowed. I was also convinced that every swallow pulled the wound apart again, which made me even more terrified to try. But I discovered that by holding either a gel pad or flannel to that cheek, I was able to ease the pain somewhat. I watched two episodes of How I Met Your Mother then read some of my book. Jan came home at around 12 and made more soup. This time I maanged to finish the bowl! Woo hoo! The afternoon was spent watching TV, following the live text for the Newcastle match (we won!) and reading – all while holding cold things to my cheeks. At 6 the pain was bad again, so I took another Ibuprofen. Later, Jan made more soup, this time cream of tomato from a tin. He put a few small pieces of bread in it, and I managed to eat both them and half the soup before giving up and letting Jan have the rest. It was just too painful! When it came to brushing my teeth, I realised the swelling must have gone down because getting the toothbrush in was much easier! I also had a bright idea… on the sheet from the dentist, it said I could brush with a soft toothbrush or use a “Q-Tip” (they actually wrote that… in a German sentence?!) with disifectant to clean my teeth. So I decided to soak a cotton bud (“Q-Tip”) in mouth wash and use that to rub those teeth I could reach. The bud came back with dried blood on it, so it must have worked at least somewhat. It hadn’t been enough hours since my last Ibuprofen to take another strong one, so before bed Jan gave me one of the 400 mg (non-prescription) ones that I had bought from the chemist when I originally had toothache. I managed four hours of sleep in a row for the first time since this whole ordeal started (including the toothache days before the op)!
Day 4 – today
I woke up at 8 am in pain and ended up getting up at 8:30 because it would not go away! Tried a saltwater rinse, which helped a little, but at 9 I resorted to painkillers. The good news is that today I’m back to toothache levels of pain instead of the post-op, death by wisdom teeth pain. Swallowing still hutst on the left and I still feel like the wound is going to reopen, but I’m probably just being paranoid. Three spoonfuls is still the most I can manage before I think “I need to stop eating right now before the entire left-hand side of my face splits open!), but it’s better than nothing. I’m still swollen, but nowhere near as much and I can open my mouth wider than I could last night. So now my plan is to have a shower and actually get out of my PJs while the painkillers are still doing their job! Officially, I’m back at work tomorrow. We’ll see how today goes.
And if you’ve actually read this far, you deserve a reward! So here are some photos of me looking like a hamster(/squirrel/chipmunk… feel free to insert your favourite big-cheeked animal). Please excuse the quality of the pictures – they were taken with my BlackBerry!