On Friday the 17-year old underwent--involuntarily, but necessarily--a momentous...rite of passage...of sorts. You see, during Derek's last routine dental checkup, Dr. R had recommended that he have his wisdom teeth taken out, sooner rather than later. Although the extra teeth weren't currently causing him any trouble--seriously, Derek didn't even know he HAD them--Dr. R's professional opinion was they they would eventually lead to crowding in Derek's mouth...thereby messing up Derek's lovely, straight bite...for which his parents had paid a pretty penny in braces, orthodontist visits, etc. So, yeeeeaaaah, let's NOT have that happen, thankyouverymuch!
Therefore we waited until after the school year (because obviously, who needs THAT on top of classes and homework?), and made an appointment with the oral surgeon to whom Dr. R had referred us. Since the practice had never seen Derek before, the preliminary steps would involve us showing up, and them performing their own examination of Derek's mouth to decide if they agreed with Dr. R's assessment of the need for extraction. From there, a number of things could happen: they could tell us the teeth could stay right where they were for the moment (and we'd simply go home); they might determine that it would be best to wait until another time down the road (again, in this case we'd just wave goodbye and take off); or they'd support the dentist's evaluation...and we'd be sticking around for the procedure, to be completed right then and there.
Regardless of how all that would turn out, however, the process had already tortured Derek in small ways....such as having to set an alarm to wake up during the Summertime (at 8:45, so don't waste TOO much time feeling bad for the "poor tired teenager")...and, even worse, not being able to eat anything beforehand (which of course is standard advice for those who may be experiencing the...joys of anesthesia...in their near future. Suffice it to say, he was....semi-loopy...from a combined whammy of sleep deprivation (ish) and low blood sugar by the time he and I set off for the oral surgeon's office. Oh! And lest I forget, I should mention that Derek up to this point had never even had a cavity (pausing to knock on wood for him), so he had no frame of reference for anything...mouth-repair-related. No Novocaine (much less an IV!)....no drilling...no nothing. Hmm, this was gonna be FUN, right? (Sheesh....)
To condense some of the more trivial details of the tale, they took a look, decreed that the pesky wisdoms should be removed, clearly explained the reasons to us using the handy-dandy X-Ray, and got the old ball rolling in short order, with informative visits from the surgical assistant, the drug guy--um, sorry, they probably prefer "anesthesiologist"--the surgeon himself, and of course the billing department, to inform me of how much this was all going to cost (which fell into the category of "not too horrible"...and also "thank goodness for insurance").
It was understandable that Derek seemed a bit dazed at this point, since things had just gotten very REAL in a big hurry--but this was probably for the best, since he'd be put under sedation soon anyway. As for me, it was back to the lobby, to read magazines, catch up on Facebook....and wait. However, it didn't feel like very long at all, before they were announcing that it was over, and calling me back to see him. (When Derek asked me about it a few minutes later, I told him "time enough to get through one issue of People...but not two!")
I stepped into the Recovery Room and witnessed....well, how should I put this? You've heard the expression "deer in the headlights"? That's always been a useful metaphor to me, but I've never actually seen someone embody the stark truth of it like Derek did at that moment. His face conveyed several facts--he was super-groggy....extremely confused...somewhat panicked....and not at all sure what to do. As a parent, I've gotta say it was a little terrifying to see my kid like that--but knowing the cause of it, and that he was absolutely okay...I admit that it was also the teensiest bit...hilarious...as well. Especially when the first thing he did upon spotting me was throw his hands dramatically up in the air and--around a mouth full of gauze--vehemently sputter, "I HAVE NO IDEA WHERE I AM!"
(Hold on a second--not laughing, NOT laughing, being supportive and soothing... okay, I'm ready to respond...) I patted him comfortingly as the assistant assured him that he was fine, and that everything had gone perfectly. She then began reviewing the post-op instructions with me, until Derek suddenly interrupted by loudly attempting to ask a question. We both stared at him uncomprehendingly, since the cotton prevented him from actually, you know, forming anything resembling recognizable words. That is, until he pulled out his phone and muttered something close enough to, "I'll text you, Mom!" Before he could do that, the assistant handed him a clipboard and he scribbled, "How'd it go?" I repeated what he'd been told (approximately 3 minutes ago), and he gave me an exaggeratedly enthusiastic thumbs-up.
A couple of minutes later, when the assistant was still going over how to care for Derek at home in the next few days, he broke in again with..."How'd it go?" Siiiiighhhhh...it's gonna be a looooong afternoon, isn't it? We reiterated how swimmingly he'd come through the...trauma...and earned another cheerful thumbs-up. Aaaannnnd, then they turned us loose--with a burly male attendant to help Derek ambulate more or less in a straight line, and to hold his head to keep him from whacking it on the roof of the car when he awkwardly heaved himself into the passenger seat. On the way home, Derek confined his actions to woozily leaning back against the headrest...except when he abruptly turned to me and asked, "Do you have my phone?" The answer was "Yes"...both times.
Next up, the first order of business in "Operation Nursing Derek Back to Health" was filling his prescriptions, and purchasing soft edible items he could manage with a sore mouth for a few days. I'd briefly entertained the notion of doing it on the way home and saving myself another trip out to the store--until I interacted with Derek after the surgery, and quickly realized I wouldn't be able to leave him in the car by himself for any length of time...or herd him around a supermarket, either. There was no doubt in my mind that he'd forget where he was, where I was, what we were doing--and wander off somewhere to try and figure it out. That's the kind of nightmare scenario we didn't need, so I deposited him at home and went out solo, to pick up food and pharmaceuticals.
I stocked up on yogurt, applesauce, bananas, and pudding, and we already had mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese in the pantry. Although the assistant had laughingly commented, "Teenage boys tend to bounce back quickly, so if he's hungry tomorrow and wants a cheeseburger, go ahead and let him have it!", I didn't want to take any chances and deprive him of nutrition (like he'd allow THAT to happen? Pfffttt, right...). For the first day, however, he had to get through the "stop the bleeding" phase, and then we opted to err on the side of caution with a policy of "all mushy, all the time". (He did actually EAT, though, not just drink, so that was an encouraging sign.) He was careful to take his meds on schedule, which he said kept the pain at bay...and used small plastic bags of frozen peas that I set up for him, to ice his jaw on both sides. (Yes, that WAS a sight...with a towel over his face and gloves on, to protect his skin from getting TOO cold. And you'll notice I refrained from photographing and posting on social media...because I'm practically a SAINT, y'all...)
For several hours, Derek was still reeeealllly foggy and kind of out-of-it, as he sprawled on the couch and half-watched SportsCenter. I also kept noticing him touching his face, and when I asked him about it he chuckled and said, "It's just SO WEIRD not to be able to feel my lip...or tongue...or chin!" Of course! You've never been numbed before! Not to worry: a couple of hours later he was completely acting like himself again--which meant sarcasm, verbally sparring with his brother (in their typical back-and-forth teasing manner), and basically exhibiting normal adolescent male behavior.
So in terms of updates for Days 2 and 3: he's continues to get by with his Ibuprofen/Acetaminophen combo (without ever needing the narcotics--which I didn't even fill at the pharmacy, hoping that would be the case). The first morning, he consumed a yogurt/banana smoothie and two packs of instant oatmeal for breakfast. He had enough energy to accompany Husband to Costco because, "Eh, it's not like I have anything else to do." Today he's moved on to "real food" (albeit still under the heading of "easy to chew"), like croissants, and even the meatloaf Husband offered him for dinner. Yeah, besides the fact that he said it feels like he's "eating around a balloon" in his mouth, I'd say he's recovering quite nicely at this point. So far, so good--but I still might make him wait until at least tomorrow for that cheeseburger--just to stay on the safe side!