I had my wisdom teeth taken out last week. All four, including one that was perpendicular. I've just come off my yogurt, soup, ice cream, soy milk, juice, hummus, and percacet diet. No more lying in bed, wrapped in ice packs, watching footage of Antartic penguins, falling asleep every 15 minutes.
Although I felt like I was disappointing my dentist, I decided to pay the extra $80 and get laughing gas, which was essentially like being very very stoned. It's the EXACT same feeling as smoking marijuana. I don't understand why they are not both options. I wasn't laughing. It was 2:00 in the afternoon, and I was paranoid my dentist was going to find out I was high.
We all have our own reasons for hating to go to the dentist. Mine is the top 40 radio, the mauve and country blue trays, and the way every dentist (except for Mark Prestwich, a family friend) makes you feel inadequate. No matter what they're actually saying, I hear "YOU ARE DIRTY AND POOR AND YOU SHOULD HAVE FLOSSED!!!"
Since I had the surgery, many of my friends have told me that dentists have the highest suicide rate of any profession. This makes complete sense for the following obvious reasons:
1. People don't like to go to the dentist.
2. They don't receive the same respect that people in similar fields, like say
3. It's lonely.
However, I also suggest the following reasons:
4. People who are attracted to dentistry have to be at least a little sadistic, especially dental surgeons. It's more like doing concrete excavation on people's mouths. At one point during my sugery, my head was braced against Dr. Khoury's hip and his arms were shaking while he pushed on my jaw. I could hear cracking. Apparently, it's not uncommon for dentists to put a foot up on a chair and brace themselves while pushing on someone's face. Sadism is a good way to work out some self-loathing.
5. Most of us learned in elementary school that taking care of our teeth means brushing and flossing after each meal and snack, not eating candy, and going to the dentist once a year. Yawn. How many people do you know who brush and floss every day, let alone after every meal? [Are you sure? Even after lunch? Even after eating some candy?]
I think if we're all honest with each other here, we'll admit that most of us brush once or twice a day and floss maybe once, twice, or three times a week, if that. It's okay. I don't think you're a bad person. I don't think you're gross. I once fell asleep with a sugar daddy in my mouth and it got stuck in my hair.
We're humans, not automatons. Being human is all about being flawed and weak. You sleep, you watch tv, you put things off, and sometimes you eat a popsicle late at night and wake up with gritty teeth and an orange tongue.
But when we go to the dentist, we have to be strong, and diligent. It's like interviewing at the Franklin Covey corporation: "Yes sir, I wake up at 5:00 am. After jogging, I enjoy a fresh oral rinse. And, as a matter of fact, no, I won't be requiring any breaks."
It's the same damn thing I've bitched about before: Americans' pride in being masochistic. It's like a sickness that's infested offices, schools, hospitals, gyms, knitting circles, and even Bikram yoga classes in New Orleans. You don't sleep, you don't do anything wrong, and you don't feel pain.
I think this way of thinking is contrary to being happy. And I think if I had a job where everyone whom I came into contact with felt ashamed or inadequate when they were around me, eventually, I'd probably want to die.
. . .
That said, I did some research, and apparently dentists do not have the highest suicide rate in the nation. It's more accurate to say that highly educated white men have a higher suicide rate than average. They're in the company of black men in positions of authority (security guards, for example), and middle age white female artists and craftswomen. Shit.
. . .
The worst part of the whole thing wasn't the pain. It wasn't even the nicotine withdrawal (I couldn't smoke, so I quit by default; yay!). It was the competition with other people who have had theirs out.
"Some people leave my office and go eat a steak." Dr. Khoury told me.
"The only thing I had to do to recover was take the band-aid off my arm!" my Dad said. Thanks, Dad, but they don't give you a shot in your arm.
But the worst was a very good friend of mine who went with me to get a smoothie five days after I'd had the surgery. I'd like to extrapolate on how fucked up my teeth were, but let's not go there. Let's just say that they were pretty bad. Let's also acknowledge that I hadn't had a cigarette in five days, nor a cup or coffee, let alone solid food. And just to keep the pity party going, let's mention that I've recently ended a 4 year relationship. There I was clutching my face, my eyelids half-closed, whining about how I wish I were better.
"Maybe it just has to do with your pain tolerance" She said, sucking proudly
on her straw. "I went out the very next day."
I lunged for her chest with my fork. "HIIII YAH!"
She'd hit my achilles heel. Since I had this crazy case of chicken pox when I was 10 that involved a heat rash, a sun burn, and my mother kneeling to pray that my face would not be disfigured for the rest of my life, I've been able to zen-out on physical sensations like pain, nausea, or itchiness. I can tell myself that pain is just my nerves reacting to something and it works; I stop feeling it. I like to think I'm hardy and strong. I have good knees and I don't get colds very often.
"I'm not weak!" I yelled.
We were at Cafe Gratitude, a raw/vegan restaurant when you order your food by saying little sentences like "I am graceful" or "I am peaceful."
"I can tweeze every hair out of leg for fun and not feel anything!"
She just laughed at me and drove me home to my percacet and ice packs. I'll probably forgive her in another week, once my gums have shrunk back to normal.