Thursday, July 23, 2015

A Case of Alveolar Osteitis

Many years ago, I was told that my wisdom teeth needed to be removed.

I ignored that advice, but felt bursts of fear whenever I'd develop headaches, or soreness in the general area of said wisdom teeth, for fear that they were abscessing and I'd die a slow painful death before I could become operated on.

However, as the years have progressed, I found myself very recently experiencing near-debilitating headaches and a penchant for sinus infections.

So, off to the dentist I went, knowing it was the wisdom teeth causing the headaches.

Have I ever told you how much I hate going to the dentist? I do. I really do. It's not fear of pain, it's fear of nausea. I have to fight vomiting all over the hygienist and dentist each time they go poking and prodding in my oral cavity.

After I received my last set of x-rays (and almost puked on the assistant) my dentist diagnosed me with a sinus infection and prescribed antibiotics, but only if I promised to get my blasted wisdom teeth removed this summer.

As a dutiful patient, I located an oral surgeon and had an initial consultation with him. He seemed so pleasant, that I scheduled surgery with him.

The first snag in the plan was the day I consulted with him there was a glitch in the system which meant my insurance company never actually received the prior authorization to help pay for said procedure.

I took care of that issue, requesting a STAT authorization because a) I was dying from head pain and b) I re-worked my entire lifes schedule for this procedure, and it needed to be done.

Surgery Day

"So, you're going to be put under, right?" The assistant asked me.

....No. I had requested local anesthesia because I have an irrational fear of whatever will happen to me if I ever have general anesthesia.

"Well, just so you know, surgeons are not known for being gentle, so you're going to get at least 12 shots in your mouth."


Assistant leaves old school country music playing on Pandora for me.

Surgeon arrives, changes the music station; begins to blare the Yeah Yeah Yeah's, and starts dancing.

Injects my poor little mouth. Pain sears across the left side of my face, and my eyes suddenly decided to lose the ability to focus, so now I have new-found nystagmus.

My throat feels like it's constricting, but they tell me this is normal.

Twenty minutes pass. I am clearly not numbed, but my tongue sure is, so I've now developed an attractive slurred lisp.

Surgeon comes in, injects me again, multiple times. He's clearly becoming annoyed at me, but I can't quite pinpoint why. He repeatedly tells me that general anesthesia sure would be the easiest way to go. He leaves.

Nothing happens. I am told I must have a fast metabolism.

He convenes a meeting in his office with his assistants in my direct line of view. Awkward eye contact ensues. He closes the door.

A long while passes, my heart is beating quite rapidly I'm so nervous, and my right foot begins shaking.

Someone stops by, asks if I'm doing okay. As the anesthetic works everywhere except for where it's supposed to, I state in my sexy slurred lispy voice, that it sure would be nice to know what's happening. I am asked if I want a cup of water. Hey, remember when my throat was constricting so I couldn't exactly swallow?

Surgeon returns, asks if I am numb. I reply that I have some numbness in my face. He replies that he doesn't care. He only wants my lips to become numb.

A while passes. Surgeon returns: "Are you numb?" He asks.

I reply "My top lip is"

He states, in a lovely make-you-feel-good tone that he doesn't care, at all, that my top lip is numb. He only cares if my bottom lip is, as well as my chin.

Well then, bucko, the answer would be "no"

He leaves. I try not to cry. Here I am, sitting on an ugly yellow plastic covered chair, pinching myself,  working on trying to breathe, nervous/anxious/scared, and conjuring up reasons why I should not leave.

He returns again and tells me this is the last time he is going to numb me. After that I have two choices: reschedule or consent to general anesthesia.

I choose to pray. I ask God to anesthetize me enough to complete the procedure.

It works. Surgeon returns, and his assistant asks why he's upset. He replies that he's just stressed, but is pretending that he is not, and that is why he is choosing to sing and dance.

Trying to alleviate the tension, I apologize for taking up so much of his time. I had no idea that I'd react to local anesthesia this way. He berates me; asking if I feel like he's spending too much time with me.


He turns up the music, starts dancing, and begins removing my teeth. I can partially feel it, but I'll be darned if I tell him that.

He and his assistant begin talking about how hot Nicole Kidman is. "Her red hair is SO attractive. Actually, all red heads are. And remember how hot she was in Eyes Wide Shut?"

Nicole Kidman, FYI, you ruined my surgery.

My four teeth successfully removed, my surgeon informs me that because I felt like he was spending too much time with me (even though I never said that) he would fly through the discharge instructions and leave.


My recovery was initially difficult. At the pharmacy picking up my medications, they wanted to know why my surgeon hadn't explained what medication to take first, and how to alternate. The pharmacist also instructed me, no matter what, not to take ibuprofen with my other drugs.

I should also mention how attractive I was, getting those meds. My mouth wouldn't stop bleeding, my gauze could no longer contain the blood, and I was drooling. It was really nice.

My mom transported me home where I spent the next few days recovering.

Early Friday morning, having had no prior problems, my body decided that now was a good time to start vomiting.

And then I kept vomiting.  And suddenly, the pain which had been almost non-existent, decided to rear up, to the point that I could not get comfortable.

 I called my surgeon, hoping for zofran, an antiemetic. He decided I was dehydrated and told me to go the hospital.

I instead went to a new doctor in town. He asked me how quickly I wanted my pain and nausea to be alleviated. I replied "immediately"

Hoping for an IV, he decided to perform acupuncture on me, in an effort to stay away from medications. His idea, not mine. (Bear in mind, at this point, due to my vomiting, I had been medication free for many hours).

He places needles in my abdomen, and along my right ear.

I experience pain relief for two seconds.

He places more needles.

Another two seconds of relief.

He decides enough time has lapsed and notes that because one of the needles in my abdomen is red and because my right ear is now bleeding that is indicative of inflammation and I would probably benefit from more acupuncture at a later date.

Then he writes me the glorious prescription for zofran and for a lower dose of pain medications, due to the suspected sensitivity to the narcotics.

My pharmacy does not want to fill my pain med prescription because I had already received a vicodin and percocet prescription two days prior.

Yup, totally get that, but do you not see my swollen face and look of death?

Prescription was filled.

The pain continued. I consulted my pharmacist friend (really pays to have a pharmacist friend late at night, by the way.)

The pain still continues into the next day. Dramatically so, I experience my first tears since the procedure because I have a constant throbbing pain in my right lower jaw, across my face and into my right ear.

I called my dentist; he told me I should call my surgeon since he's the one who did the surgery and knows my case best.


I call my surgeon.

He tells me if I was really in a lot of pain, I wouldn't be calling, my mom would be calling for me.

He asks if I can take ibuprofen. I reply that I can, but was told not to....

He cuts me off. "Ma'am, ma'am. Are you listening? I asked if you can take ibuprofen."


I tell him what the pharmacist told me about not taking ibuprofen. He replies "That is the craziest thing I have ever heard of in my life."

If that's the craziest thing you've ever heard of in your life, you've been clearly sheltered.

He tells me to take ibuprofen and I'll be good.

Guess what? I had a few moments of pain relief, but every time I thought I had kicked it, the pain returned repeatedly.

I kind of wanted to die.

I returned to work on Tuesday, six days after the surgery. Working with nurses, and reiterating the story and my persistent pain, (which returned ten-fold whilst at work) I was told that something was wrong and I needed to see a dentist.

The next day, seven days after my surgery, I called my local dentist, the one who initially recommended the worst surgery of all time.

I explain that all I need is for him to LOOK at my extraction site and tell me if it's normal or abnormal, cause hey, I'm kind of dying over here and my surgeon is rude.

They squeezed me in, and it only took one look to be officially diagnosed with dry socket.

What's dry socket, you say?

Oh, just the absence of a blood clot which aids in protecting the bone and nerves, which leads to said bone and nerves EXPOSED TO EVERYTHING. No biggie.

I was properly treated, apologized to, and went on my dandy way.

Finally, today, I am not only feeling human again, but also (almost) pain free.


  1. SARAH RYAN!!! Why didn't you text me!? I may not be the brightest crayon in the box but I could have told you right away what it was by that description! Glad you're feeling human!

    1. Stacie Lou, I had no idea!! Even my dentist doubted I had dry socket when I initially contacted him.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.