Thursday, July 8, 2010

Back from the dentist...

A quick update for all of you who are curious about my trip to the dentist:

Let's start by rounding out the list of characters for this experience, and for the sake of protecting their identities, I'm going to go Bill Bryson style and give them pseudonyms:

First off we have Liesl and Eddie, the two dental technicians. Of course, my dentist who we'll just call "Doc" and the dentists' chair that we'll call the Borg Octopus.  Oy, the does look at you and go "resistance is futile", because like it or not, that's where you're going to have to sit for the duration of the procedure.

In all, the whole experience went fine.  I got there on-time and quickly seated in the Borg Octopus.  I had taken my Valium an hour before hand so, I was feeling really groovy when I got there.  Oh yeah, gotta love those Valium because it didn't bother me at all when Liesl came in and put the local anesthetic on my gums so that the shots didn't hurt.  I was happily sitting and relaxing with the wooden end of the local anesthetic laden Q-tip   sticking out of my mouth like a hillbilly's hayseed and chatting away.  I wasn't even phased when she started unwrapping all the instruments that Doc would be using on me.  I was looking at the tools very curiously, pointing at things and asking her a whole round of "what's that thing do" while she's putting together the instrument tray, picking out the right size for my crown and then making the mold of my tooth.  She was really sweet and we did a little bit of laughing here and there.

Liesl also did a round of x-rays, and with my very sensitive gag reflex, I was surprised that I didn't choke while she ran around the corner to press the button.  Ah, the wonders of Valium.  After Liesl got done with all of the prep work, it was time to bring in the Doc.

My dentist knows that there probably isn't enough Lidocane in the world to numb me up.  It takes at least three big shots of it to get me numb, and then my system burns through it so fast, he usually has to give me one shot in the middle so he can finish up.  Today was no different.  I probably had enough Lidocane in my system to remove the tusks off of an elephant.  Yeah...not the most fun in the world.  Even before he picked up the syringe to give me the shots, he said, "Close your eyes, it's time for the shots.  Just a little poke..."  I could hear myself whimper as the none-too-pleasant process went on.  He kept telling me, "Ok, one more..."  Then, "It's almost over, you're doing good."  

The thing about the shot they give you to numb you up is that it's Lidocane mixed with Epinephrine.  Ok, raise your hand if you know what Epinephrine is.  Good, glad some of you know what it is...for those who don't's kind of like synthetic adrenaline.  Oh yes, this is exactly what my hyper-vigilance and usual anxiety-ridden, hyperactive self needs...*roll eyes*   I've got enough adrenaline in my body naturally to fuel a hundred pre-schoolers.  But, whether I like it or not, it's all rolled into the anesthetic shot they give you so your body will get your face numb faster.  Can you tell this is a recipe for disaster?  Oh yeah.

So, Doc finishes the shots and leaves me for a few minutes so the shots will kick in and to quote Bill Cosby, "I started to feel the side of my face slip off my skull and onto the floor."   Doc came back in and began to work.  The drill started it's high pitched whine and we had officially started the race against time to when I'd start to have feeling in the left side of my face again.  With a reminder of "If you start to feel pain, raise your hand", the drilling commenced.

I did the entire procedure with my eyes closed.  I could hear the grinding of enamel with the lovely smell that accompanies it...ewww.  He ground away at the tooth and I could tell I wouldn't have much of my natural tooth left when it was all over.

Halfway in, guess what, the Lidocane started to wear off.  In the middle of some heavy drilling, my hand shot into the air.  The dentist asked, "Can you feel that?" and I start nodding and do the mouth-wide-open 'uh-huh'.  He paused, broke out another shot, and resumed work. He gets done drilling the tooth and it's time for Liesl to come back in and wrap the cord around my tooth that would help my crown fit better.

By the time Liesl came back in, the Epinephrine was working me over, hard.  I was shaking like a leaf, and for some reason, I started to get really distressed and wigged out.  I felt a few tears slide out when she looked at me and said, "Are you doing ok?  What's wrong?"  I guess it was the combination of the Epinephrine along with my usual mound of dental work anxiety that finally set me off.  Even the Valium wasn't enough to keep it at bay.  So, realizing what was going on, I quickly calmed myself by taking a few deep breaths and let her resume work.

After Liesl got done with her part in the action, Doc came back in and he went to work finishing off the root canal.   He put in the little pieces with medicine on them, the blue laser light went to work, and before I knew it, Eddie was making the mold for my temporary cap.

Now, what I had forgotten about the temporaries they make you is that they're acrylic.  Oh yes, I had a small moment of panic when I realize the same stuff that goes on my fingernails was now going into my mouth.  The stench of acetone was pretty overwhelming.  Eddie reminded me that it was dental grade acrylic that was in my mouth, but still, that smell was pretty awful.  It wasn't long before Eddie had my temporary in his hand, shaping it and getting it ready to go into my mouth.  With a snap, he placed it, glued it down and I was all done.

After I got out of the dentists office, I was so jacked up on the Epinephrine that I probably could have jogged to Pasadena and back without losing a breath.  I ran down to school to take in some paperwork they needed, then drove myself home, took a pain pill and started my blog entry.  It wasn't too long before my eyes became really heavy and I was passed out cold for a few hours.

But in all, I got through the experience with a few minor bumps and I did it on my own.  I know this may seem like minor beans to you, but to me, it was definitely a step in the right direction.

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