Today I had the pleasure of getting my teeth yanked off my face for the sake of stopping the excruciating pain permeating my head due to the wonderful complexity and intricacy that are our nerves. My wonderful wisdom teeth, who have laid dormant for so many years now, decided that they needed to jump on the cheap healthcare wagon and get the most out of the Korean medical system.
It all started moooonths ago when I went to get my teeth cleaned. My teacher took me to her dentist, who didn’t know English but could get by with a few phrases. The cleaning cost a mere 60,000 won (currently $53). He said I should get my wisdom teeth pulled because there was something wrong there. I was thrilled because not only did I get my teeth cleaned, oh and a cavity filled ($65) in which he filled a tiny one next to it free of charge (“service” he called it), but I was getting all this wonderful advice from him.
Fast forward two months, I am back from summer break and breaking a sweat thinking I have to go back to this guy. I go in there and get x-rayed, and as I am chilling on the chair staring at these x-rays the doctor comes back and in 2.5 seconds tells me, “Why are you here? Your teeth are very healthy, you should not take them out.” Flabbergasted and frustrated, I told him he had told me to come back to get them pulled and why would I bother coming if there was no reason. Needless to say, I left with no teeth pulled and a headache.
I went to another dentist, this time a dentist recommended by my friend. It was downtown and ever so convenient – Mir Dental Hospital was just an easy choice. It’s a clinic that advertises to foreigners and most of the staff speak English. It was actually strange going into this luxurious office and having the secretary start asking me questions in English. I gotta admit, it threw me off a little.
They took x-rays of my mouth. It freaked me out, mostly because I keep taking x-rays in Korea. To them it seems like a normal procedure while I’m counting the amount of radiation I am receiving. Four chest x-rays and 3 mouth x-rays since being here in Korea since July 2010. That can’t be good.
Two weeks until D-Day
The doctor had claimed it would only take 5 minutes to actually pull the teeth since my teeth were pretty straight. I had to sign a consent form saying that I was aware that there is a risk that during the procedure something could go wrong and I could basically lose feeling of my jaw. Yeay.. that basically started this fear of how this could possibly go wrong.
I went home anxious that it had to be done, but alas my teeth were achy and I knew it was time. Fast forward to this past Saturday. I was at a seminar for church, and halfway through it felt like my left wisdom teeth were just emanating pain. The nerves were throbbing and sending pain through my other teeth and up all the way towards my temple. It was giving me a headache.
Four days later the pain intensified so much that I couldn’t even think during class. I took 5 Tylenol pills through out the day and to no avail. The pain never went away and it got so bad I could only eat soup for lunch (my colleagues were so confused as to why I was eating so little). My co-teacher called the hospital and rescheduled the appointment to a day earlier because it was ridiculous how much pain I was in. Eventually by the time I met up with a friend for language exchange, it felt like the left side of my face was breaking. I ate some bread and drank some coconut shake, and it was over. The pain was making me want to vomit what I had eaten. I went home and at 6:30pm I proceeded to sleep for 12 and 1/2 hours.
The next morning I felt a whole lot better. By the time of my appointment, I felt almost no pain. Sleep does wonders I guess. I was so nervous. By the time I was seated and the nurse was telling me how she would inject me with the pre-anasthesia, I was shaking. “What is wrong with me?!” I thought. I am usually a lot more brave than this. I have no clue what happened. Everything went out the window and suddenly I felt like a small kid waiting to get her teeth pulled. I wanted my mommy. The nurse felt bad, and once the doctor was ready to begin she had to hold my hand because she probably thought I would jerk in pain. I forgot he was doing the filling first, so when he had me sit up, I thought, “Wow! That’s it??”. Heck no. I lay down again and the real pain begins.
Mind you the anesthesia shots pricked a bit but didn’t hurt. The sounds. It’s really the sounds and then combined with the feeling of this man gripping your lil ole tooth and pulling with all his might…. it creates this awful sensation of being tortured. I was squirming and my eyes were tearing at the sensation I felt. I couldn’t see, they had covered my eyes which may have made it worse. It was awful, and definitely NOT 5 minutes. It got worse as I tasted salt, which I knew meant I was bleeding. Eventually I felt thread being pulled against my lips and I knew it was almost over. The dentist and the nurse both felt bad, and I think were surprised my eyes were tearing. I gotta admit I was surprised too.
My mouth sore, I left the dentist with a bill of $108 – $19 for the 2 wisdom teeth and the rest for the filling. I walked over to the pharmacist and in pain asked for my medication. I was a bit weary as I watched this old lady get up from the back, where I could see a cluster of old ladies chatting. I may have interrupted her YaYa Sisterhood moment, but I hoped she was paying attention and giving me the proper medication. It was no Vicodin, but the pain killers cost me $1.60.
I‘m home now … and clearly writing the longest post ever simply because I am trying to distract myself from the inevitable. I am gonna have to change the gauze and actually eat. On the plus side, I made this awesome soup:
Potato soup with really whatever else I had in my fridge. On a side note, cooking for a single person is difficult! In the sense of, I am always worrying about what veggies or fruit will go bad in my fridge since I don’t eat often and so much. Thus this soup had 3 kinds of mushroom, broccoli, shredded parmesan cheese, onions, garlic and ham. A good dose of comfort food ^_^