Unlike losing your baby teeth, there is nothing fun or exciting about having your wisdom teeth pulled.
My youngest daughter went to the oral surgeon to have all four of her impacted wisdom teeth removed. Apparently, if you have to have your wisdom teeth removed, 14 is the ideal age. I was 14 when I had mine extracted too. I remember it quite vividly. My dad took me in the morning. I was put under anesthesia, I woke up and immediately wanted to talk. They told me to stop talking. Apparently, some things never change. We drove home on a hot summer day back to our house and I remember in my post-anesthetic haze telling my dad to turn left onto our street from Ventura Blvd. In hindsight, I am pretty sure that my dad knew where to turn, since he had bought that home and lived there for the last 15 years… even before I was born. But anesthesia can be like truth serum or highlight your innermost self. In my case, it brought out my innermost control freak telling my dad where to go even before I had a driver’s license.
But, I digress.
My daughter was very nervous about having so many teeth pulled at once, and although nitrous oxide (laughing gas) was an option, she insisted on being put out with the stronger stuff. One hour later, it was over and she woke up groggy and stuffed to the gills with cotton gauze. She immediately wanted to talk too. Like mother, like daughter.
On the way home, we decided to stop at the grocery store to pick up some soft foods in case she was hungry later. While I sat in the car with her, her dad ran into the store to get a few things. The next thing I knew, I heard a slight gagging sound. Thankfully, I had the presence of mind to open her door as quickly as possible as she proceeded to throw up blood and chunks of bloody gauze. At this point, she had no awareness of where or what was happening. She was still strapped into the car and her head was hanging out with all kinds of fluids dripping from mouth and nose and into her hair. Yep, it was pretty gross and a little scary. But like all well-prepared moms, I had a collection of clean napkins from various Starbucks in my glove compartment and some old dog towels in my trunk. I proceeded to clean her up first… and then the parking lot. Now she was scared and moaning loudly. Meanwhile, her father was STILL in the grocery store! After a few minutes of talking her off the It-Hurts-So-Much-Ledge, her father finally arrived with a bag full of groceries.
On the remaining drive home, I recapped the excitement that he missed in the parking lot. He was totally oblivious because in the time that it took him to "buy a few things," I had cleaned up the CSI crime scene. When we got home, I put her in bed, although it was a fight to get her to take off her tennis shoes and jacket. She was in a lot of pain and there was a lot of bleeding… and very loud wailing. I got her to take two Advil, although she couldn’t feel her lips or her tongue, so she wasn’t sure if she had even swallowed them. She was still wailing from the pain. So I crawled in bed with her and rubbed her back. I am pretty sure I haven’t done this in over a decade, but next thing I knew, she was fast asleep. It had been a long day… and it was only 11am.
I went back to the kitchen and reported the medical update to my husband who was unpacking the groceries: Jell-O, ice cream, soda, donut holes, and whipped cream. Seriously, what was he thinking? If our daughter survived her oral surgery, we should put her in a diabetic coma? He said, that he bought foods that were “easy” to eat. In a very weird way, this kind of reminded me of something my dad would have done. So, instead of getting mad, I smiled. Although, he bought her a Creamsicle flavored ice cream which I knew she wouldn’t eat, but it sounded good to him. It’s the thought that counts.
She slept the rest of the day and I went to check on her around 4pm. She was feeling a bit better. We had filled the prescription for the heavy-duty medication (just in case), but it looked like Advil was enough to quell the drama. I offered to bring her some Jell-O, but she said it was too difficult to open her mouth. She agreed to to sip some water and take more Advil. I told her that I was going to a yoga class at 4:30pm, if she was okay to be alone. She said that would be fine. She just wanted to sleep some more.
So, off I went. I turned off my phone for the hour that I was in the yoga class, but when I turned it back on there were two voicemail messages, a FaceTime missed call, and three texts.
MOM: WHY AREN’T YOU ANSWERING YOUR PHONE??? I NEED TO TALK TO YOU RIGHT AWAY!
My mind started racing. How could I have turned off my phone? What if her mouth was bleeding again? What if she fell down? What if she spiked a fever? What was I thinking leaving for one hour? I immediately called her back, “What’s wrong? Are you okay?” She sounded hysterical. I couldn’t quite understand what she was saying. She sounded very upset and frantic. I finally got her to focus and speak slower. What was all the drama about?
There was a Chorus performance at school that night and she wanted to go with her friends. That’s it. She didn’t fall. She wasn’t bleeding. She wasn’t scared. She wanted permission to go out. Oh, and, she needed a ride immediately.
This was the same girl who was under anesthesia that morning and had four teeth removed.
The one who threw up in the grocery store parking lot and couldn’t open her mouth wide enough to replace the gauze that she spit out.
This was the same girl who hadn’t eaten in 24 hours and was still too weak to take a shower and shampoo the gunk out of her hair.
THIS girl wanted to go see the Chorus sing at her school, with her friends, at night… now!
At first, I thought she was kidding. But she was about as serious as a heart attack. When I said, “No way.” She pushed back. So I put her father on the phone and he said, “No way.” She proceeded to beg and plead and tell us how unfair we were being. She was feeling “Much better!” So, I asked a couple of follow up questions: Have you eaten anything? No. Have you taken a shower? Not yet. So, needless to say, the answer was still no.
When we got home, she was in her pajamas. Apparently, she tried to take a shower, but became too exhausted to wash her hair. She couldn’t eat anything because her lips were still numb and her mouth was too swollen. At this point, the swelling had taken over and she looked like a chipmunk storing nuts for the winter inside her cheeks. She admitted that her face looked like a cross between a potato and a young Jonah Hill. She went to bed without dinner and slept for another 12 hours. She stayed in bed all day Saturday and Saturday night.
On Sunday, she wanted to go to the mall with her friends and buy a dress for the Friday night dance. She finally started eating some chicken broth, Jell-O and was drinking water. So, we let her go to the mall and go shopping. I begged her to only go for one hour, but she insisted on three. When I picked her up, she looked happy. But her face was still quite swollen. So she looked like a happy chipmunk who had just bought a dress at Forever 21. She fell asleep in the car and slept the rest of the afternoon.
She woke up for dinner. More soup. Tiny pieces of steak-- cut up as if she was in an old age home and eating without her dentures. She said it tasted so good. She went back to bed and complained about all the homework she still had to do. This morning she went to school, but her room looked like a war zone. Clothing everywhere. Wet towel on the floor. Trash can full of old gauze. She did manage to hang up her new dress.
Poor thing. Four teeth ripped out of her mouth. Puffy cheeks. Swollen lips. Exhausted. There was no tooth fairy because the oral surgeon doesn't bother giving you your wisdom teeth… nor did I think to ask for them.
So, after dropping her off at school, The Wisdom Tooth Fairy washed her linens, opened her windows, and did her three loads of laundry. Why do teenagers go through so many clothes? The Wisdom Tooth Fairy brought her home her favorite pie (Key Lime) for dessert tonight. We’re all glad it’s over, but there was nothing fun about this rite of passage.
I thought about leaving a dollar under her pillow tonight… just for old time’s sake.