Comfortably Numb

By
It was the winter of 2007-08 when I was informed that my wisdom teeth needed to be removed. I was terrified. I had never had any sort of injury, not even a scrapped knee, much less surgery.

The Catheter Situation

A lot of events delayed my extractions, until finally I had to meet my oral surgeon in late June of 2008. I immediately liked him and thought him a good choice. He got straight to the point and informed me of everything I needed to know beforehand, including the kinds of sedations available (I of course chose the heaviest available, being as nervous as I was). He talked about a lot I would have needed to know…unfortunately he said something about a catheter and I didn’t hear anything after that. Being in the medical program at my school I know a lot of medical terms…some have multiple meanings I learned that day. All I could think of was that they were going to put a catheter in me to keep me from urinating on myself during the procedure…and I didn’t like the idea of that at all. My oral surgeon asked if I had any questions after he was done with his obvious “I’ve – done – this – a – million – times - don’t – sweat – it” speech. I wanted to ask about the catheter…but I couldn’t word it much less bring myself to actually ask him about it. I was extremely embarrassed. He left the room for some papers and I told my mom how uncomfortable I felt about the catheter situation…she laughed at me. I didn’t understand why and was actually pretty mad that she would be so unsympathetic to my feelings. Then just as I was about to ask what was so funny she blurted out “Not THAT kind of catheter!” (Thank god my mom is a nurse and can explain this stuff to me!) I felt more embarrassed than before. It was funny though…even at that time. My mom and I were still giggling when the oral surgeon came back with the papers. He just gave us a somewhat puzzled look.

The Surgery

No contacts allowed. Just the ugly black – rimmed glasses that make me look like a dude. Great. I thought as I got ready. My mom drove me to the office where they would soon make me “skangulada” (or “toothless” in Italian). They made me go to the bathroom prior to the surgery. Hey, at least there’s no catheter involved! I walked into the room and they sat me down in the normal – visit – to – the – dentist – chair. The dark – haired nurse took my glasses and put the “oxygen” over my nose. Last time I checked oxygen didn’t smell like…well anything…funny how their oxygen does. The blonde – haired nurse walked in and set up the drugs and needles for sedation, getting everything prepared and whatnot. The dark – haired nurse moved the “oxygen” mask to the “laughing gas” mask and the blonde nurse told me she was going to start the IV. Funny how their laughing gas doesn’t smell like anything…but their oxygen does. I kind of figured that had gone wrong by that time and was very nervous. If something that simple went wrong what would happen with the IV?
Plain and simple: I have bad veins. I know this, my mom knows this and the nurse knew it. So why would she pick an area that you can’t even see the bluish – green line? Who knows…she’s the one who took all the courses and tests to become a nurse…I’m not even a medical student yet. So the blonde nurse ties the tourniquet around my upper arm and is holding pressure and smacking my arm trying to find my invisible veins. By this time my arm is dangling off of the armrest and I’m extremely anxious. Then she swabbed my arm with the alcohol wipe. That’s when I realized she was planning to stick me in that position…dangling arm and all. All I could think at that moment was Oh my God…she’s gonna stick me and I’m gonna jerk my arm up and smack her in the face. Well, that’s her fault isn’t it? Next time she won’t lean in so close trying to find a vein that almost doesn’t exist! Then she stuck me. I took a very sharp inhale…a gasp really. I was so nervous I started crying. I was probably having some sort of a panic attack but that ended when the nurse took the needle out.
She’d missed. Completely missed. I’d say that was the worst part of the whole procedure. All that anxiety for nothing. She’d missed my vein being stupid and playing around when all of the veins in my hands are visible. I appreciate the fact that she was trying to make it more comfortable by using my arm…but I’ll take an IV to the hand rather than have a nurse miss in my arm. Then she started whispering to the dark – haired nurse as if I couldn’t hear her. “We need to go get him…” she said as softly as possible. A few minutes later the oral surgeon came in and grabbed the needle.
“Do you want me to tell you when I’m going to do it or just do it?” he asked. I could tell he wanted to get this over with.
“Tell me” I replied.
“Okay. On three. One…two…three” and it was in my hand where all of the other visible veins are. “Okay, we got it. Now the room is gonna go blurry and then the next thing you know you’ll be done and awake”. I don’t remember if I actually said anything but I do remember thinking okay just let yourself go. Don’t fight it or else you’ll end up like the guy in “Awake” and you’ll feel everything…the room hasn’t changed at all… I was out.

Post – Op

I didn’t dream or anything like I had expected. I just woke up an hour later exhausted and numb. The oral surgeon came to check on me although I have no memory of this. “How are you feeling?” I expect he said.
“Comfortably Numb” I supposedly replied.
The first memory I had was him standing there in front of me. It wasn’t very clear, as if I was half asleep. If you’ve seen the music video for “Comfortably Numb” in the movie “Pink Floyd: The Wall” I felt like I must have looked like that, and that’s probably where my reply came from…my feeling rather than my thoughts. Next, my mom was sitting in the chair in front of me and the oral surgeon was talking to her. Then, out of nowhere it seemed, they were carrying me to the car…like in “Comfortably Numb”. I have no idea who “they” were…I just know that it happened.

All in all, it wasn’t bad, especially since my older cousin had gotten his done the day before and told me everything I would feel and how bad I would swell and whatnot. My recovery was great…I didn’t even use the Vicotin/Tylox stuff I was prescribed. Just the 800mg ibuprofen (equivalent of four Advil). The next time I go to Mexico I know what store I’m gonna visit first: ¡la farmacía!





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