In The Place Where They Call Me Diane

Greetings from Vicodin City, where the Fire Demons and Angels of Ache must keep 50 feet away from the city's enameled walls, and nobody ever poops!

Last Friday morning I had my wisdom teeth (plus a bonus molar) extracted.

Three hours later, we were sitting in a CVS parking lot. Mike was on the phone to AAA, urging them to hurry as his wife was in pain and needed to take her medicine with food. My memory is in snippets. Screaming. Writing "GAUZE! GAUZE!" on the back of an envelope. The AAA guy arriving while Mike was still across the street at the (usual) dentist (not where the surgery took place) getting gauze because CVS was a madhouse. Blood running out of my mouth and down my neck. The AAA guy looking rather spooked. Somewhere in this, our battery was replaced.

I remember throwing bloody gauze down to the floorboards. That was over five days ago. Some warm days ago. I hope it's not still there.

By Friday evening I was feeling better, although it meant supplementing the Vicodin with 800mg ibuprofen.

Saturday was worse. The stiffness that sets in overnight, and all that. The cracked corners of my mouth from where they'd been stretched. So nice for the "care" bag to include lip balm. (And gauze, oops. Not that it would've been enough.) I found myself clenching, over and over, especially if I waited five hours to take another Vicodin. (You can take it every four hours, but the pharmacist said not to take more than five per day. So, I tried to hold out a little each time.)

Sunday was much the same.

On Monday I was writing on Facebook, feeling guilty about missing work and wondering if I was supposed to be better. People were reassuring.

Don't think I wasn't on FB before that, though. My first update came less than an hour after we left CVS:

"Can't believe am already writing on FB. 45 minutes ago was screaming and crying in car for more gauze to bite on (like bullet) while waiting on AAA to fix battery. (See Mike's post.) Vicodin is NOT cutting it, but added ibuprofen and can now grunt short phrases with some coherency. Woke up in chair at the end to "Breathe, Shari, breathe!" over and over. Heard someone say "very bad sleep apnea." Really? Frozen peas are on face - only the site of worst impact hurts now. Am thinking of Tom Hanks with ice skate in Castaway and trying to keep perspective..."

Sleep apnea? I'll think about it later.

On Tuesday I was definitely feeling improvement. At last! And there I was worried about dry socket. Whew!

I didn't take any Vicodin, first because I felt I could get by on 800-1000mg ibuprofen, and later... when I was on my 10th ibuprofen within a two-hour space... because the thought of taking another Vicodin scared the poo out of me.

Or rather, I wish it did.

Yes, yesterday I learned all about the fizzy grape drink bottled under the name Magnesium Citrate. And 90 minutes later, I learned even more. I learned through tears and whimpers and swallowed screams. And I learned that no painkiller was worth the kind of constipation where, even if you've had nothing but pudding and soup and mashed potatoes for five days, there are tears and whimpers and swallowed screams.

But then this morning, on my "well, I know I'm doing better, but let's take this last day to really rest and do things right" day, I woke up around 10 a.m. with Firejaw.

Firejaw = burning, swollen heat around where the worst impacted tooth was. (Ironically, this is the tooth that has given me the very least amount of trouble over the years. I'm not sure it ever really was a problem, maybe because it barely erupted, what with being all sideways.)


There, see it on the lower left side? The white smear whose roots are outside of the picture?

And above it you can see the broken nub of a wisdom tooth that started all the trouble, along with the molar that it partially ate, its cohort in urgency.

(If you can't see, click to enlarge in a popup window.)

Before I went to sleep, I was tossing and turning over a strong ache in my lower jaw, on the side of the Bad Ex-Tooth but more forward. But like I said, I woke up with Firejaw, and the pain was very definitely around the area where the tooth used to be. (It's hard to tell when heat and pain are radiating.)

That was at 10:00, so that's when I took 800mg ibuprofen.

At 10:30 I took a Vicodin.

At 10:55 I took 200mg more of ibuprofen.

At 11:15 I called the dentist office. They got me into a post-op appointment this afternoon. (Or I could've had them call the oral surgeon - which was already an option because he gave me his 24/7 cell number - but it seemed better to have someone actually look in my mouth.)

At 12:00 I was feeling okay. I called my Dad. "You sound terrible."

It's nearly 1:00 and I'm still feeling okay. I want a nap, but my appointment is in about an hour.

Tomorrow is a staff day. (With the new policy that if I miss it, I have to make it up with an administrator before and after school next week.) Grades for the quarter are due on Monday by the end of the school day. I've missed six days of school. (Two before surgery due to pain, one for surgery, and now three for recovery.) Let's NOT think about that today, though, okay?

So, that is life with me. (OH NICE. I'm here eating yogurt while I type, and an inch's worth of stitching just came out of my mouth. Sadly, it's the chewiest thing I've had since last week.)

UPDATE (5:00 p.m.)


Hooray - the doc did some poking and irrigating and says that all is well. Unfortunately, they had to take so much bone (see new X-Ray, above), that it's not surprising that I'm still needing this much painkilling power. But no dry socket, no infection, no trapped food - and no more soft foods and especially no more guilt. So happy! (Hurty, but happy.)


Oh, other than my father-in-law just booked a cruise for the four of us (me, Mike, him, his wife Carol) to go to Alaska! this summer on Norwegian Pearl.


(Sorry HAL, but you were charging insanely higher rates to book from Australia, which we could've worked around, but it offended my father-in-law - who cruised HAL as recently as September - immeasurably to discover he had to pay so much more just for being an Aussie. And no, it's not because of fees or exchange rates - the Australian dollar is stronger than ours at the moment. In fact, their better economy is probably why HAL dares to charge more there.)

(Sorry Carnival, but we can't handle yet another Spirit cruise, especially since it means no thermal suite of any kind. And frankly, your "2.0" upgrades are disappointing to this vegetarian, but that's another post, and the hype surrounding them is even worse. I love John Heald's blog, but the way he now compares everything good to a Guy Fieri burger, and calls the Fieri burger the very best in the world, is laying the promotion on a bit thick. I don't even like Guy Fieri's shows.)

(Sorry, Princess, but we're tempted by the freestyle dining and all of the extra dining options. Sure, there's an upcharge for many of them, but we're used to paying even more for Carnival's steakhouse.)

(Sorry, Disney. I don't think my in-laws are into your product the way we are, and even though we do love The Mouse, we don't want to pay more money to eat with strangers.)

(Sorry, Royal Caribbean. Um. What is it that you offer again? And justify charging more than NCL and Carnival for? I speak of the Alaskan cruises here. Let me know.)

I can't wait to be excited about Alaska! Academically I know that someday soon the thought of ten restaurants on board will mean something other than "Ow" to me.

And that day, when it comes, and please let it come soon, will stretch and stretch into a period of continued deprived longing, because if I'm going to Alaska! this summer with my (never met in person before, picture-takin') in-laws, to Alaska!, where things like hikes around glaciers are meant to be breathtaking in a way that doesn't cause alarm in others, someone is going to have to wake up her Wii Fit avatar again.

Eight months. That's about how long I had before Mike came to the States the first time and we planned a big whirlwind trip to Walt Disney World and Las Vegas. And I "got ready." By the time his plane landed, I still felt like a cow who was only halfway done with her weight loss (and I was), but when I look at the pics now, I sure wouldn't mind rolling back to that point.

Snow Glee

Fatty McFatpants at Mt. Charleston, February 2001.

So, we will consider the soft foods (minus the pudding) of the past near-week to be a fortuitous start to, well, something I've done so many times before, but without any real earnestness for six or so years.


P.S. The title of the post? My middle name is Diane. For some reason, the office where I had my oral surgery had me down as preferring to go by my middle name. So, at first, everyone was calling me Diane. I felt a bit Shirley Jacksonish, and thank goodness the surgeon's name wasn't Dr. Harris, but after I corrected the staff, I sort of missed Diane. How often do I get to use my middle name? So, Diane is my dental name. But Shari's the one going to Alaska!

27 October 2011 |






Carnival Elation (2009)
Carnival Splendor (2009)
Carnival Spirit (2010)
Carnival Spirit (2011)
Carnival Splendor (2011)
Norwegian Pearl to Alaska (2012)