Two days after my finals this semester, my mom scheduled my wisdom teeth removal surgery. Moments before surgery, I found myself wondering how the recovery process would look like for me. Would I have chipmunk cheeks? Discolored cheeks from bruising? One of my friends got a black eye because his doctor couldn't get his upper molar out the first time. Would I have to deal with something like that too?
The worst part of recovery was the predicted diet I was about to endure - only milkshakes for days and days. My stomach can't handle copious amounts of sugar anymore! What was I going to do?
Although I went into my wisdom teeth removal with very shallow expectations for what it could teach me, I actually learned a lot. Check out these life lessons below:
1. Pain is subjective
There are two main ways to deal with the pain of wisdom teeth removal. Either take a very strong drug called Percocet or Ibuprofen/Tylenol. I chose to take Ibuprofen because my pain was only a dull ache. My brother needed Percocet because his pain was very intense. The type and amount of medicine people take after this surgery got me thinking that pain is one of the most subjective things we try to deal with as humans.
We try to quantify it with numbers, treat it with medicine, or distract ourselves with other things. We can try to judge how much pain someone is in, but we're usually wrong in our assessments. Some people can handle more pain than others, too. I just wanted to say the surgery let me start thinking about this subject more.
2. Being grateful is the best
My mom was a champion in taking care of me. She comforted me when I threw up after the surgery, got me all the icepacks I needed, and stocked the fridge with lots of yogurt. She even gave me some "gauze to go" when I felt up to seeing my friends (just in case I needed it). It's not easy being a nurse for free, so I made sure to thank her for all her troubles.
Now I understand why older patients are grateful when talking to their caregivers. I couldn't do much on my own the first couple of days. I needed some help keeping all of the doctor's orders straight (and keeping morale up). My mom was already happy to assist me, but thanking her brightened the smile on her face and on mine. Being grateful is the best.
3. Tea is a lifesaver
Although I didn't have a lot of problems with pain, I had a lot of problems with bleeding. Bleeding stops for most people after two days, but at day three I was still bleeding on both sides. Turns out, putting lukewarm tea bags (any type) on the removal sites help stop the bleeding. I thought it was hilarious stuffing my puffy cheeks full of tea bags. It was like I was doing a healthy version of chubby bunny.
4. Looks don't matter
My cheeks were so swollen, I could've fit three tea bags in each side of my mouth and no one would've known. But even though my cheeks were super big, the only time they felt big was when I went into the bathroom and saw my image the mirror. Honestly, if I never saw my reflection, I would've felt like the same girl I am on the inside.
But I did see my reflection, and you know what I saw? Eyes that sparkled when I smiled or raised my eyebrows in a snarky way. I was still me, even though I didn't look like I used to.
5. Sometimes, bruises don't show up right away
I realized something startling after my yellow-green bruises on my cheeks showed up three days after my surgery. Life can kind of be like wisdom teeth removal surgery. Sometimes, us humans need to have something removed from us that could hurt us in the future if it isn't taken care of IMMEDIATELY. For example, this something could be a bad habit, unhealthy relationship, or horrible job. Life puts us through a wringer of a procedure (or circumstances) that helps us remove the problem.
But man oh man, life-helping procedures like this bruise our pride, hurt our feelings, and makes us go through a recovery period that is slightly painful. But at the end of the day, I would rather be recovering from wisdom teeth surgery than having impacted teeth rot my other teeth.
The last thing that wisdom teeth removal taught me is I can't wait to be able to eat hard foods again. I'm really excited to eat regular Lays Ruffle chips in particular.
I hope your wisdom teeth removal was full of learning moments too. If you haven't had your surgery yet, I suggest this quick read all about wisdom teeth and our need to have them removed now.