I just want you all to know that I love you, each and every one of you. You are all like bits of sunshine and flowers and rainbows. You’re all so…beautiful!
That’s because at the ripe middle age of 45, I just had my wisdom teeth out, and I’ve spent much of this weekend seriously bent on pain medications. In fact, I’m only just now stepping down from the truly groovy stuff to good old turbo-charged Motrin 800s.
While I’m under the influence of all these yummy As and Bs, I must make a confession: I am, in fact, a coward, of the insect nerve and rubber backbone variety, to borrow a phrase from the late, great George Fitch. I can stand anything but pain and temptation. For the past two and half decades, I’ve been convinced that this would be one of the most horrible, painful experiences of my life and avoided it religiously.
It didn’t help when the doctor walked into the room, did a double take, and said, “You’re not seventeen. What are you doing here?”
And yet, now I’m embarrassed because it really wasn’t all that bad – to the point where as I come out of my codeine-induced euphoria, I dimly wonder what in the world I was worried about.
While it is not uncommon for folks my age to undergo this procedure, it is apparently medical fact that a young person has an easier time than, well, a youngish, in-shape-for-a- man-my-age kind of middle-aged rock and roller.
The problem is, my memories of my elder siblings’ teen wisdom teeth experiences were not good ones. My brother had the worst time of it. He not only got the Army dentist – my brother would argue that army would have been the Wehrmacht – complete with the boot-on-the-chest-and-pliers treatment, he was allergic to nearly all the pain medications. To add insult to injury, he also got a hideous infection that lingered throughout most of that summer.
As he liked to describe it — especially during meals – he spent the summer, “Draining the puss from my jaw like someone milking venom from a rattlesnake.”
My sisters did not seem to fare much better, although they didn’t have to deal with Sir Lawrence Olivier saying, “Is it zafe yet?” and somehow escaped infection.
So my attitude for the last quarter century has been, “Why would I willingly pay good money to submit myself to such torture and lose a weekend that I could be doing something else far more fun?”
Alas, there finally comes a day when one can no longer put it off. Happily, though, the procedures and the drugs have improved over the years. They gave me something called twilight anesthesia, which rendered the forty-five minutes the doctor spent rooting, sawing, yanking, and sewing, completely forgotten. In fact, he could have replaced my head with a red cabbage – and may have, for all I know — and I wouldn’t have noticed until today. When I awakened, I was so shot full of good stuff I didn’t feel so much as a twinge of anything for about five hours. I had time to eat something soft, cool and sloppy, pound a pain pill, curl up under a blanket with my Hefty bag of ice sitting on my face, and drift pleasantly into the mindless, brain-dissolving hypnosis of daytime television.
It wasn’t the best way to spend a weekend, but to be fair I’ve suffered through worse hangovers – upon which I willingly spent good money and lost entire weekends – and insurance didn’t even cover them.