Monday, July 1, 2013

As Fun As a Root Canal

So, if any of you were chomping at the bit to get an exciting play-by-play description of my root canal, you will be sadly disappointed. I kept my eyes squeezed tightly shut during the whole ordeal, so I have little information about what happened to me.

I went in at 1:40pm and left at four, no joke. I sat in the waiting room, jittery and nervous. I do not like Novocain shots, never have, and between fillings, tooth extractions, crowns, and wisdom teeth, I've had too many shots so I avoid the dentist if at all possible. Which is why I've put off this root canal for five years. I'm lucky it wasn't any worse than it was. Wasn't really in pain, just had a piece split off that was wiggling and uncomfortable.

They made me wait about 25 minutes, long enough to be thoroughly freaked out and irritated at the "tooth fairy" on the closed circuit TV. I mean, look at this:
Wouldn't she annoy you too?

When they took me back, they made sure to take my money first. My insurance is terrible, so they only covered $247 of the $1299 bill. I asked if nitrous was included or if I had to pay extra for that. I know my insurance doesn't cover any sedation. I think that's dumb. People might be more apt to get minor work done before it becomes major if sedation was an option. However, I know they gave my daughter nitrous last year for a filling, so I wondered if they did it as a courtesy. They said they'd give me nitrous, but only during the shots since the mask gets in the way.

I'm 36 and I've never had nitrous before. None of my dentists ever used it. I gotta say, I kinda like it. I think it should be used more often! My esophageal manometry would have been much more pleasant with nitrous, for example. "Oh, you're going to shove a tube up my nose and down my throat? Okay... I don't care..." However, even though you can technically still follow instructions, you're a little too relaxed to be all hung-ho about it. I thought I was opening my mouth wide, but apparently my mouth felt as lazy as my brain. It smelled like strawberries and they put a mask over my nose and told me to breathe deeply. Funny thing I noticed, but maybe I was just too doped and my observation is skewed: I think I was breathing more deeply going in and coming out than I was in the middle. I felt like I was breathing faster when I was fully giddy and was consciously trying to slow my breathing. He said I'd feel it in my fingers and toes first, but I felt lightheaded and sleepy first. Then my hands and feet felt numb and I was sure I couldn't walk if I had to. I felt all floaty. And he was right...I totally did not care. I just wanted to sleep. He gave me a couple of shots and then I could tell when they were reducing the nitrous because I felt more awake and was so disappointed. I would have loved to have slept through the whole thing. Knowing what I know now, I think if I had to do it again, I'd press a little harder to keep it throughout the procedure.

He said he was going to start drilling and to let him know if I felt anything but he'd be surprised if I did. Well, he was surprised because after a minute, I cried out. Well, as much as you can cry out with two sets of hands, a bite guard, a drill, a straw-sucker, and the water-squirter in your mouth. He gave me a couple more shots and went back to drilling.

I kept my eyes shut and clenched my hands around the arms of the chair. If I couldn't feel what was going on, I surely didn't want to see it either. They worked for a while, then took a break. They asked me if I needed to use the bathroom, but I declined and the hygienist gave me a magazine. A few minutes later, they came back and I shut my eyes and gripped the chair again. I smelled bleach and was confused. Surely I was imagining that. He worked for a while longer, then the hygienist took some X-rays to see if they'd gotten everything they needed to get. By this time, I did have to use the bathroom. She said my tooth was "open" and made me bite down on some cotton. When I looked in the mirror, I noticed a bleached splatter on my bib. So, I wasn't imagining it! I checked my shirt underneath because the bib was bleached all the way through and I would have been mad if they'd bleached one of my favorite t-shirts! It was fine, though, and I came back and resumed half-heartedly thumbing through Glamour magazine.

When they returned, I flipped to the next page, preparing to set the magazine down open in my lap when I caught sight of the picture I'd opened to: a naked man spread across both pages with a strategically draped piece of cloth covering what kept this from being a Playgirl centerfold. Whoa! Didn't want that laying on my lap, so I hurriedly flipped another page. They said the x-rays were good and went back to work. They put up some sort of guard that included a piece of rubber stretched across my mouth that they said would keep the area dry and keep my tongue from getting in the way. Then the doc left and a different hygienist did a couple of sets of impressions and made me a temporary crown. She didn't get it cemented on good enough and had to do it again. After that, they were done.

They'd forgotten to collect my $5 copay and we know how important that $5 is after you've dropped over a grand already! They made me an appointment for the permanent crown and a cleaning and I was out of there.

I went directly to the pharmacy to fill my narcotic pain reliever and tried to enunciate my request through the drive through speaker, despite having half my face numb. I'm serious. Not just my jaw, lip, tongue, and cheek, but back to my ear and up to my eye! I tried to put on some Chapstick because my lips were dry but after midpoint, I couldn't tell if I was hitting my lip or my earlobe.

I went to McDonald's to get a drink to wash the nasty tastes out of my mouth and tried again to speak normally through a speaker. Amazing how difficult it is to say "large Coke" when half your head is numb. I went back and got my pills and went home where my family ridiculed me and imitated my stroke-like speech.

Three days later, my jaw is still sore, whether from it being open so long or the shots or the actual dental work. I'm going to try to stop taking the narcotics now--they are a pretty mild dosage anyway.  Hoping the ibu profin helps enough and I can open my mouth a little wider than finger width.

No comments: