Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Going under

I blogged about how I need to have some dental surgery done. Actually, I need to have 4 wisdom teeth pulled. Uh...they were never really pulled. So I had something going last year with a dentist and they said they'd refer me to this oral surgeon and that office would contact me by phone about setting up an appointment. I reminded them that I am deaf and can't accept phone calls and that I don't have a TTY, so I said that the best way to contact me was by email. They said they'd relay that information to them.

Time passed. Months, actually. I never heard from anybody about getting my wisdom teeth extracted. I called the dentist about it and they just said the office would contact me by e-mail, but they never did.

I pretty much gave up on it. I figured, screw it. They won't contact me or anything. Forget it!

Well, something happened this morning that was like a tap on the shoulder that this kinda thing CAN NOT be forgotten about.

My tooth cracked.

I was really surprised this happened. I mean, I was breakfasting with a bowl of Cheerios when the tooth cracked. It was not like I was tearing into a steak, or anything! I thought it was so bizarre.

I called the dentist about it. They said I could come in today and they would "temporize" the tooth. I asked them what "temporize" meant and the lady said that they would "make it less sharp." I was thinking, why the heck don't they just pull the thing out??? I mentioned that I would like to have the tooth itself extracted (no cracked teeth in my mouth, thank you very much!) and they said they don't do that kind of thing. After some kind of checking in her system and I guess typing on the keyboard, the lady I spoke to on the phone figured out the whole "referral back in October, 2008" thing and suddenly became rude. She acted like I was wasting her and the whole office's time with MY teeth problems if I wasn't going to follow through on THEIR referrals. I was ready to get all huffy about it, wanting to scream, "Lady, that works both ways!!" But I kept my cool and just took her rudeness.

I called the oral surgeon's office and we talked about the WHOLE situation. Fortunately, THIS particular receptionist was very polite and was actually surprised about the whole "oh, you're the one referred to us last year" situation. We talked about me coming in and she was concerned about getting an interpreter for me. She said she would contact me about the interpreter and I asked, would it be possible to contact me by e-mail? I was literally sitting there, hoping PLEASE say you can contact me by email! I was relieved when she said that was fine and I gave her my email addy. Later she did indeed contact me by email and gave me directions to the office. She also contacted me again to let me know that the interpreter situation was a go. Yay!

So I got the kids into the car and went to my appointment. Hubby went to work. Miraculously, I didn't get lost on the way there. What a shock! The appointment went well, and it was VERY bizarre being in the X-ray or digital machine thingy with that BIG swivel thing going around my head and taking pictures. Very weird indeed. I suddenly felt like I was in some kind of science fiction movie.

The dentist examined the images then inside of my mouth. Jennifer kept the baby company, playing with him in the chairs next to me. She was VERY GOOD watching over him while I was being examined. The dentist confirmed I had to have my wisdom teeth pulled, but there was also another tooth that needed to be pulled. This is the tooth that cracked. Apparently, it was an infected tooth and had to get out of there ASAP! (And all this time, I thought the pain in my gums was from my wisdom teeth. I wonder how long I've had that infected tooth.) So for now, he'll pull out one wisdom tooth and the other infected tooth as of tomorrow. I'm really nervous about the dental surgery but grateful they talked to me about EVERYTHING related to it: How to care for my teeth before, what to do before and after the surgery, what I could expect and what the process was like. I was very appreciative they took the time to spell it all out for me and made sure I understood everything. Yay! They rock!

They talked to me about what kind of anesthetic to use. Seeing my two children with me, the dentist strongly urged me to use a local anesthetic, because if they used an IV anesthetic, that would completely knock me out. I would be out of it for the rest of the day. I would be a little sick and sluggish, very woozy and unable to care for the children. I've had dental work done before and I've had the Novocaine injections before, which is what the local anesthetic would be. So I know it would not be 100% effective in blocking the pain. (And this is a wisdom tooth we are talking about here!) He did note that the extraction would be pretty painful and that IV anesthetic would be best, but with the children, I would not be able to watch over them or care for them afterward. I thought on this and I really was not sure on which one to use. So I asked them if I could decide tomorrow because I wanted to talk to my husband first. They said that is fine. I could choose which one to use at the time of the surgery.

The M.A. started to fill prescriptions for me, for painkillers to take following the surgery. I asked her what kind she was prescribing and she said, "Vicodin." I almost had a heart attack! GAH! I explained that I can't take Vicodin. It is WAY, WAY, WAAAAYYY too strong for me. Once, when I took it, I was literally on the floor and the room was spinning. I got so sick! Thanks to my friend Nancy, I asked if she could prescribe Tylenol 3 instead. She warned me the surgery was going to be very painful and that I'd be in a lot of pain for a couple of days. (Well, I already live with physical pain every day! And at least this kind of pain is not long-term.) I told her I understood that but I absolutely cannot and will not take Vicodin. It just makes me really sick. I honestly thought I was dying the last time I took it and experienced something like vertigo. I pleaded my case for something else, even Tylenol 3. She told she would discuss it with the doctor first. Thankfully, he agreed to it. (Yes, I know I'm setting myself up for heavy misery later, but I would never, ever, EVER touch Vicodin again. Not after what that stuff did to me last time. I wouldn't take it for all the tea in China!)

Once all that was taken care of, it was time for the fun part: Insurance paperwork. The receptionist went over the insurance coverage with me about what would be covered and what wouldn't. She told me we'd have to pay a deposit of $175 for tomorrow and she said that, after insurance, that's probably all we would owe. My interpreter, however, was a little more savvy with health plans and couldn't believe I hadn't hard of OHP. I hadn't. She said that I qualify for this health plan and that if I had it now, it would be combined with my current insurance and I wouldn't have to pay a dime. (WOW!!) She urged me to look into signing up with OHP. I told her I would, but didn't have much faith in getting it. So many hearing people talk about ALL of these benefits available to the deaf and hard-of-hearing, but I'm not seeing any of it. When I was divorced, I was urged to sign up to receive SSI, but they would not give me SSI because I was under the age of 55! Tell me, where are all of these "benefits" for the deaf everybody else knows about???

Well, anyway, everything is all set. I told my husband about what's up and he is taking tomorrow off so that he can drive me to and from the appointment as well as help out with the children later in the day, since I'll probably be a little woozy. I was advised to have a liquid diet for a couple of days following the surgery. So I'm thinking, Slim Fast shakes, Instant Breakfast drinks and broth. In addition to lots of water. It'll be weird being on a liquid diet for two whole days but should be an interesting experience. One more experience I'll get to write about first-hand! Woot! I talked with my sister on the phone about it and she shared her experience with that. She also suggested I get those yogurt drinks, too.

I know I won't be able to get much work done on the books for a couple of days. Or do much else. But, like my sister said, once this is done and over with, I won't have to worry about it anymore. I'll be done with those dental problems and free of the pain associated with having the wisdom teeth needing to be pulled. Free at last! I'll be free at last!

Once I'm feeling better, I'll get back to doing all the usual stuff that I do. And then, maybe some other things, too.


Anonymous said...

Hey woman, I just watched 2 girls on TV (it was 18 kids and counting) get their wisdom teeth out and they were pretty stoic but I cannot imagine you going through this without adequate medication. If your hubby will be with you, maybe you should have the IV? I wish I was there, I would insist you have the IV and watch the kids for two days!!!!!

Dawn Colclasure said...

Thank you, Nancy. You are so awesome to offer to do that!! I am thinking of using the IV, now that I have the chance to use it....

Glenn Koehm said...

So how did the dental work turn out? I'm very sure that you got through it strongly and, by now, you don't have much of a problem with your teeth. It's nice that the dentist was easy to talk to and gave you a lot of options that would work for you. What did you do while in recovery?