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18
Jul 99
Sun

Dazed and Hungry

It wasn’t that bad. I got admitted to hospital at about 6.30 in the morning. The nurse came around to ask the usual questions. You know, the list of questions you either answer “no” or “yes” to. And when she gets halfway down the list, you’re thinking, “There must be a way to vary the yeses and nos. I’m beginning to sound mentally incompetent.” But by then she’s got down to the not-so-usual usual questions. The ones you can’t help smiling uncomfortably at, or vigourously denying. Are you wearing any nail polish? (Don’t laugh, I’ve had a person come in here before who had some on his toenails.) Are you taking drugs of any kind? (Legal or illegal, you know what I mean.) Are you pregnant? (I could just have skipped this one altogether, but I’ll just say it to see your reaction.)

Ben, the guy in the bed next to me apparently was going to have seven teeth extracted. His operation took place hours before mine though, so he was wheeled out of the room, and I was left alone to immerse myself in the world of Midkemia. I had borrowed Magician from the library for this occasion, but even before operation day, I had already completed half of the 650 page book. A result of “I’ll read just the first chapter to get me started.” Just as well Raymond E. Feist had so much story to tell (and I’ve developed quite a liking for his writing). I didn’t get my pre-med injection until about 10 o’clock. The “needle in the arse” was actually quick and painless, but it itched like hell. I was told I would feel drowsy as a result of it, but 30 minutes passed and I was still awake, and reasonably aware. I was thinking about what the anaesthetist had said before (he noted he had read Magician too) – that I wouldn’t dream whilst I was under. What was dreaming? And how did they know that? I didn’t know dreaming required a certain state of consciousness. I guess people in comas don’t dream? Then what about people who claim they saw visions whilst near-death? I opened my eyes again, asked for the time and found it was 11:15. I indignantly acknowledged to myself I had fallen asleep. But if I had woken again, did this mean the injection was wearing off? At this point I tossed off these fears with apathy (and probably, help from the injection). If it happens, it happens.

The nurse came to wheel the bed to the operating theatre. Between lengthy blinks, the fluroscent lights on the ceiling scrolled down my vision, but due to the nurses stopping to chat along the way, at a far more pokier pace than E.R. and those hour-long TV dramas. They asked me questions confirming my identity again, which I answered with my eyes closed. I wondered if I was being rude. Apathy. They put these inflating cuffs on my ankles and right wrist, for aiding circulation. The mobile bed came to a stop next to the operating table and I clambered over on it, dragging the blankets along. I wasn’t sure that I was meant to do that, but they didn’t seem to mind. The anaesthetist materialised to my left, recognised more by his beard than anything else, said something that gave me the impression he was about to stick a drip in me. Apathy again, accompanied by an irritating discomfort in my left arm. I didn’t know if I was meant to, but I fell asleep at that point.

I regained semi-consciousness. Bracing for an explosion of pain that never came, I was left wondering if the operation had actually taken place. Common sense would have told me otherwise, but it was currently as drugged out as me. I bit down cautiously and felt some strange foreign object (later discovered to be cotton wool) down where my wisdoms should have been. At least I knew the operation had happened. It was about 7 o’clock in the evening at this point, and when I finally decided to try and rouse myself from my drowsy state, I realised my tongue was completely numb. And the left side of my face. I put it down to the “long-lasting” local anaesthetic they gave me as a (I must say rather effective) painkiller. Talking was difficult, not to mention how remarkably good a job I did of sounding like I was mentally impaired. I was really disorientated after that, but apart from my head, the rest of my body was in a passable condition. Except that I was constipated. That, and the drugs, made pissing a new experience. It was a stop-start endeavour. Mix in dizziness, and you have a recipe for pissing all over the toilet seat, which, although I managed not to do, left me quite exhausted afterwards.

By the time it was 11 pm, I had arrived back home, and the facial numbness had subsided. On the right hand side. The left side of my face, lip and would you believe, left half of my tongue were numb. Not totally numb. It was sort of like a mild pins and needles sensation. Touch in that area was discomforting. All the talk about nerves being compressed, or even cut, was making me uneasy. It didn’t help to find out (from e-mail received, and more official sources, such as my orthodontist) that bruised nerves may take up to months, or even years to heal. Shit. I wasn’t going to walk around like this for a month.

I began my regiment of penicillin, savacol mouthwash and panadeine forte (nice, strong and sedative – everything you need in an analgesic). Swallowing water was peculiar. The right side of my tongue would feel the coolness of the liquid, whilst the left side felt no temperature at all. My face had started to swell in the meantime, which drew comparisons to me looking like a chipmunk from Dad. I wasn’t amused. The numbness wore off the next day, thankfully, and I was left to the unwanted diet of no-solid food for a few days. I’m still hungry.

Oh yeah, and thanks to all those who sent me mail about the ‘teeth. Funny thing was, a lot of last minute mail I got about the operation told me it wasn’t that bad.