As the imaginative title suggests, last Thursday (25.8.2011) under general anesthetic at Colchester General Hospital I had my wisdom teeth removed.
Had to be at the General because I can’t have local anesthetic (the injections they normally do to numb your mouth) because the nerve on the left side of my face has been damaged by previous injections.
I’ve been having pain and infections caused by my wisdom teeth for years so it was a relief to know that all that would stop. However I also have a serious phobia of dentists – which I dealt with by telling myself that it was a medical problem and not a dental one!
I didn’t sleep at all well for the days leading up to the operation so I took a trip to Boots and explained to a lady who filled my head with horror stories of dentists and tooth extractions gone wrong and sold me nytol, ibruprofen & codiene and paracetamol. Maybe she was offering me a way out?
Before I knew it the day arrived and at 8am I arrived at the hospital with my boyfriend. There were 4 other people in to have the same operation which cheered me a little, although I knew mine would be slightly different as everyone else would be having the local anesthetic as well as a general as it helps with pain control.
It was a long day, I can’t remember what time I went down but I think it was 2 or 3pm. I was starving! The anesthatist was lovely and very reassuring, although somewhat frustrated by the knots which my boyfriend had tied in my hospital gown (so tight he thought he was going to have to cut them off!). He had even heard of the magazine I make which was nice and he kept the chit chat very calm and natural as I drifted off to sleep…
Next thing I knew I was awake and unable to open my eyes due to the bright light. I have photophobia (which isn’t a phobia so it has a stupid name!) and I lay there desperately trying to communicate that telepathically to the nurse.
I was aware that I was crying, aware of pain, dizziness and fear. I could hear that I wasn’t breathing properly but couldn’t remember how to correct it. The nurse beside me asked if I was ok. I thought I spoke but only a mumble came out. “You’ve had morphine” she said “you can’t have anymore.” I felt tears as they ran down the side of my head and listened to my erratic breathing – memories of the first aid course that I’d taken 2 days before came back to me ‘check that they are breathing effectively’ I wasn’t.
Another nurse took my left arm and started checking blood pressure etc. “You need some oxygen love” she said “I’m going to put this on you now it will give oxygen via your nose”. I tried to say thank you but again there was just a murmer. “Is she is pain?” she asked the other nurse “She hasn’t had any local anesthetic she must be in pain”. I heard rustling to the right of me and guessed she was reading my file “Well she’s had a section so I don’t see why she can’t cope with this.” said the first nurse.
I would like to say at this point to that nurse that a) you are in the wrong job and b) no matter how unresponsive someone is do bear in mind that they can probably hear you!
I can’t remember the rest of the exchange but soon after that the nurse said she was going to give me some more morphine and I felt it sting it’s way up my arm. The pain didn’t ease. “You had 10mil in theatre, I can only give you 2 more” she said.
Next thing I remember is being pushed along the corridor and again wishing someone would turn off the lights. I heard my boyfriend’s voice and relief flooded through me, I knew he’d make it all alright. Time passed in a whirl of blood pressure pumps, pain, dizziness and bright light.
A nurse kept asking if I was in pain, I heard her tell my boyfriend that I’d had 20mil of morphine. I remember thinking that would explain why I’m so zonked! She kept asking me if I wanted to get up and go to the toilet. Getting up seemed about as unlikely as anything I could imagine. My eyes flickered open at one point and I saw the girl who had been in the bed next to me walking around – wow I was so jealous.
Everyone else had been discharged, the nurses checked more and more frequently. “We’re going to have to admit her” one said to my boyfriend. “No” I said. “But you have to get up and go to the toilet” she said “Can you do that?” I tried to sit up, the room span and I slumped back into the bed. I murmured that I had to go home because of my children.
About 6 hours after the op the pain kicked in again, yet the dizziness and sickness were almost stronger than the pain and were utterly all consuming. I couldn’t even change position without waves of nausea crashing over me. I vaguely remember being given more pain relief paracetamol and dihydrocodeine I think along with an anti emetic.
Shortly after I was wheeled to a private room in a different ward. The porter was lovely, had a really nice manner and totally understood how I was feeling. Needless to say the motion of moving made me sick. In the room almost admitted defeat, I knew I wouldn’t be able to walk to the car so the idea of going home seemed impossible. I said again to the nurse that I wanted to go home – she said again that I had to go to the toilet first. A bit later I sat up determined to get to the bathroom, and was promptly sick. A few attempts and another anti emetic later I made it, with a little assistance, to the bathroom! I felt exhausted when I got back to the bed but sent boyfriend off to tell the nurse.
If I say so myself, when the nurse came back I gave an oscar winning performance of being well enough to go home and the nurse went off to find discharge papers while my boyfriend went off to find a wheel chair. The mantra going round and round in my head was ‘just get home, just get home’.
The nurse came back and talked through the discharge papers, explained the huge bag of painkillers said again it might be best if I stayed in. The dizziness and nausea were filling my every thought as I tried to keep my eyes open and sit up while he talked. Eventually he left and my boyfriend helped me into the wheel chair. A massive wave a nausea hit me and I was sick – all over him and my bag!
The nurse re-appeared. He said that I shouldn’t go home. “I’m going home” I pleaded. My boyfriend negotiated with the nurse and an hour or so later we left. The journey to the car and then home was tough going but I wasn’t sick again until I was half way up the stairs at home!
Now – it’s 6 days later. The first few days were hard going, lots of pain, sickness and generally being feeble! Now the swelling is almost gone and I just have 1 yellowing bruise left. Oddly (I think so anyway) the stitches go down the side of my gums and up into my cheeks, I wasn’t expecting that! So far I have been eating only soft food: creme caramel, porridge, mashed potato, mashed carrot & swede and rich tea biscuits dipped in tea. But today I have just eaten some nutella on toast. I’m paying the price now as the pain is going up and up and up but by god it was nice.
I owe a huge thank you to my boyfriend for all his support and care. He was amazing through the whole thing, so sensitive, caring, kind, thoughtful and intuitive – I don’t think I’ve ever felt so looked after.
Fri 2nd Sept – Getting increasing pain on right hand side so went to NHS walk in centre (went there rather than dentists as that is what the hospital said to do….) to be told several times that ‘we are not dentists’ however the nurse practitioner did take a look and said it all looked fine. She said to take more pain killers.
Tue 6th Sept – Pain is horrendous on right side now, from half way along bottom jaw right up to cheek and eye. It is constantly throbbing – very painful. Went to dentist who says it is ‘dry socket’. He has packed it out with a clove infused dressing which he says will just dissolve. I don’t feel very reassured. Fingers crossed!
Thur 8th Sept – Pain so much worse now, and I can’t fully open my mouth (keep jokes to yourselves…) so reluctantly went back to the dentist. He has now prescribed more Metronizadole and basically said if it gets any worse, or isn’t better in 2/3 days, don’t come back here! He said he didn’t do it and it should be the consultant who did it that sorts it out. Which is nice. Not.