I think the only phrase I hate in medicine more than ‘as we age’ has got to be ‘this is rather rare, but…’
It is rare to get a dry socket in the first place, even rarer on an upper tooth extraction. However, it is slightly less rare when the extracted tooth is an “old” root canal tooth, and the rare-factor continues going down as things like the poor condition of the bone and greater-than-average violence of the extraction process are put into play.
So there you are. It is, indeed, a dry socket. And it does indeed hurt like a @*^&@. And there is little he can really do about it, other than continue to apply a new dental band-aid over the top of it every Tuesday and Thursday until it settles down.
The good doctor came into the exam room where I sat fidgeting and saying things like now, don’t get all melodramatic, just calmly tell the man how it feels… to myself, and he said cheerfully, “So, feeling better?”
I looked at him as if he had suddenly sprouted another head and blurted out, “NO! It hurts like @*^&@, actually!”
He looked very surprised and concerned. About four seconds and a glance into my mouth later he was wincing and muttering and asking his nurse to bring x cc’s of this and a tray of that and some of that jelly-pak™ stuff and also a vial of this other stuff and could she please call the pharmacy and order a refill of both the amoxicillin and the vicodin (I could have kissed him for that last one).
Now, when I had talked to the nurse last week, it wasn’t his nurse. His nurse had already gone home for the weekend. I talked to the advice nurse, which is about as helpful as walking up to a random person in WalMart and asking what they think you should do.
Himself was a touch annoyed with your faithful correspondent because, all jokes about crank calls aside, I did not actually call the nice man at home to whine about my face feeling as though I had been kicked by an irate mule; I also didn’t bother calling yesterday to beg for an emergency appointment, because I knew he was in his other office – the other office being about two hours roundtrip from here, and me without any babysitter available for the Denizens, I felt that overall it was less painful to just ride it out at home and wait for my Denizen-less appointment this morning.
So he shot me up with Novocain and removed the stitches (ouch) and poked around at the gaping hole in my jaw (OUCH!) and shot some more Novocain in there and tried to take a better look in there (AY YI YI WHAT ARE YOU A SADIST JESUS HOLY I MEAN GEEZ ARE YOU CRAZY?!?!) and then put a little more Novocain in there and also dripped a bunch into the hole and still I was basically >>this<< close to bursting into hysterics because, seriously, OW!, and finally we both just kind of took a deep breath and he ::!!QUICK!!:: packed it up with some antibiotics and Novocain-soaked cotton and then he slapped a collagen band-aid over the whole thing and we both sat back and regarded each other from beneath sweat-beaded foreheads and honestly – I think we each wished we had never laid eyes on the other.
Which is not really true. I’m very glad I’ve got this guy for this deal. He’s very skilled and I don’t think I could have had a better man for the job. Tooth #3 has apparently been infected off and on for eleven straight years, the bone is a hideous spongy mess in there and I can’t pretend I’m surprised that we have complications. Annoyed, yes. Surprised, no. I also got dry socket not once but twice before, which apparently is yet another twitch upward on the ‘how likely is it that you’ll get a dry socket after extraction’ scale.
I’m sorry he’s having to deal with this, because he’s not a person who likes pain.
I like that in a periodontist.
So now I’ve got to resist both diet Pepsi and poking at the bandage with my tongue, both of which are much harder than they sound. Mostly because they are absent-minded things for me to do.
See, if I had to think in order to do these things, I wouldn’t. But the fact that they are precisely the sorts of things you do when distracted by other things makes them almost impossible to quit doing.
In fact, I have had to scold my tongue for poking at it three times in just the last half hour.
This is going to be a looooooong couple weeks, people.
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