I swear I’m not a complainer. When people ask me how I am, I say I’m doing fine, thanks, even though sometimes I’m not doing fine and I have a headache or I’m depressed or I want to talk about how freaked out I am about what’s going on in the world. And I’m not a hypochondriac, as evidenced by the fact that I’ve probably been to a doctor about eight times in my adult life — which is not good, I should get regular checkups, I know, but my point is that I don’t freak out about little aches and fatigue and unexpected bodily fluid discolorations and things like that.

But to be honest, this last week has been Hell.

Since I had my wisdom teeth out, my mouth has been in constant, often unbearable pain. At times, the pain spreads through my skull and produces massive headaches that make it difficult for me to concentrate or think straight. Medication lessens the pain, but it doesn’t make it go away entirely, and I’m on a pretty regular schedule where I carefully note the time I take each dosage so I can take the next pill as soon as the bottle says I can. I’ve switched over from Vicodin to Ibuprofen because it has just about the same effect, only without the potential to land me in rehab. (Sure, I’d like to meet Mary-Kate, but not that badly.) There’s been a persistent, disgusting, metallic taste in my mouth, that I would describe more specifically, but I know foul tastes aren’t fun things to imagine, so I’ll hold back. And I know it’s not blood because I don’t see any blood, but it’s something and probably not something good, and anyway, it’s nauseating and whatever it is is what everything I eat tastes like now.

And when I went back for my followup visit this morning, that’s pretty much what I wrote down on the form. There’s a time and place for complaining, and I figured assessing complaints was pretty much the entire point of a followup visit, so I didn’t hold back. The nurse sat me down in the chair, glanced at the form and asked me how I was doing. I told her it’s been Hell, and I repeated everything I said on the form, and she took out a little plastic gizmo and said, “Okay, now I’m going to show you how to irrigate the wound,” which I’m pretty sure is what she was going to say no matter what I told her.

After she’d done her job, she left the room and handed off my form to the dentist. He walked in, asked how I was doing, and I said, “I’m okay personally, but my mouth is killing me.” He just kind of nodded and went, “Yeah…”. Then he checked in my mouth and said everything looked great, the wound was healing nicely, and I was doing a good job with my post-op hygiene.

The awful taste in my mouth most likely came from all the food and gunk caught in the holes where my teeth used to be. For the first week after the surgery, you’re not supposed to disturb these areas with toothbrushes, toothpicks, fingers or anything else that might disrupt the healing process. Now that I’ve got this gizmo, I can clean out the gunk, and hopefully, that will solve the taste problem. As for the pain, the advice I got was simply, “Some people have lots of pain; some don’t have any. Just keep taking Ibuprofen.”

Well, for once, I thought I was the exception, the .001% case, where something had gone horribly, horribly wrong. But it turns out what I’m going through is perfectly normal. The whole thing made me feel like a big baby. I take it back. I’m sorry I complained.

Really, I’m just fine.

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