Trigger Warning: Graphic Description & Trauma
I’m far a stranger to the pain. At a young age, I was suffering from what would later be known as multiple chronic pain illnesses. What nobody ever prepared my 20-year-old self for, was getting my wisdom teeth removed. Sure, some people say it was bad and some others might say it was a walk in the park. For me, neither were anywhere near the truth.
The day of my surgery started out good, I had no nerves and I was excited to get this done and over with. For me, this was my third oral surgery and the other two weren’t bad. I felt prepared and I had the ultimate caregiving system, my beloved mother and my wonderful boyfriend. They were prepared to wait on me hand and foot, but I was sure I wouldn’t need it. After all, I didn’t need it the last two times.
My mother and I arrived about 20-30 minutes early, naturally. I wasn’t expecting to get in any earlier, but I wouldn’t have complained if I did. I was ready to get this over with and excited to never have to do it again. Since we’re still in COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, I had to call the office when I got there, and there were limits on who was allowed in and out. They said that they’re running a little late, but I will be getting a call when I can come in.
It was about 20 minutes after my scheduled time to arrive for surgery, and they gave me a call saying that I could come in. I sat in the waiting room, waiting to be called back for another 20 minutes. “They must be running a little late”, I just kept thinking. Trying to be understanding of their situation too. What was to follow, was far from understandable, and it was downright unacceptable.
Once I sat in the chair that my surgery would take place in, everyone around me was rushing things. “We’re behind”, everyone kept saying to each other. They rushed the questions, my medical history, and a run down of the procedure. Again, I stayed in a position to be understanding. They put in the IV and the surgeon came in, chatted with me for 3 minutes, tops. It wasn’t long before I was knocked out. But not long after that before I became completely aware of my surroundings. I was awake, mid-surgery. I could fell them cutting and stitching, ripping and poking inside of my mouth. I could hear the sounds of the tools, scratching and rubbing inside my mouth, and I could hear the casual conversation between the people working around me. I couldn’t breathe, and I couldn’t talk. I was frozen and the best thing I could do is smack my left hand on the side of the armchair.
Did they know how I felt? Did they know that I was alone and scared? Afraid of what might be coming? “It’s okay, we’re almost done.” The Nurse said to me as I sat there, still smacking the chair. They had covered my eyes with a mask, all I could see was blue, but the lines of the blue quickly blurred as my eyes filled with tears, I couldn’t do anything, and I wanted them to stop, but there was no understanding between them and I, and they prevailed.
I sat there for what felt like an eternity in hell, but the end was near, I just had to push myself to get to it. Finally, they finished and unhooked everything from me. I have been awake long enough to no longer feel the effects of the anesthesia, it was almost as if they did it on purpose, because they were so behind. I was aware enough that I could walk, without the aid of someone or a wheelchair just seconds after being unhooked from all the wires. All they were focused on is getting me out of this chair and prepping for the next person. They wheeled me down to the parking lot, where my mom waited patiently. I was beyond happy to see her, this meant the end.
But, that couldn’t be further from reality. It was only the beginning. I’m currently day 3 post operation, still scared out of my mind. Constantly sitting here having flashbacks of what occurred, just 3 days ago. I have this pit in my chest, of anxiety and pain that hasn’t left my body. No amount of pain medications, or ice packs and soft food will heal this wound. Because of these people’s carelessness and inhumane actions, I will suffer, possibly a lifelong battle between my mind and reality. “Rest,” they say, but how can I rest when I’m too scared to fall asleep and have myself put in a state of terror, once again? How do you move on from this, and become a functioning member of society again? After the physical pain is no longer there, how will I carry on with my life, afraid to be alive?
It’s has now been a over a month since my wisdom teeth were taken out, the physical pain is healed but the mental pain still shows itself every now and then. I’m still waking up in the middle of the night, drenched in sweat, saving myself from the terrible nightmare that still visits me often. I’ve talked to many people about this, my physical pain and healing was normal for most. The trauma I faced was not. Some of the people I talked to didn’t wake up throughout the entire procedure, while others woke up but never felt the physical pain mid-procedure. I still wonder to myself why I was the exception to feeling this pain. As I said before, I am no stranger to the pain, but it makes a person wonder.
I don’t tell this story to bring pressure and anxiety upon those who are looking for comfort before getting their wisdom teeth removed. I tell this experience to let anyone else who went through the same mental trauma, they are not alone.