How did my first surgery undergo?

Today is either the 31st of October or 1st of November depending on your time zone. Those 2 days are quite special since people around the world celebrate events related to the dead such as Halloween. What better way to celebrate it than with a blog post of the wisdom teeth removal surgery that I literally had 2 weeks ago? Surgeries are always scary, so let me explain what happened with a little bit of storytelling of course. 

Lots of plain text ahead with no images, so you have been warned. This blog post if I am not wrong, is the longest one that I have written so far with near 4k words.

Preceding events

All of this started on February of 2019 when my doctor asked me for a x-ray scan of my mouth. He wanted to inspect whether or not any wisdom teeth had started forming. The answer to that question was yes, the two bottom ones. However, it was extremely early to do anything against that.

2 years passed and we are now on July 2021. I visited my doctor again to check the process of my two bottom left and right wisdom teeth. The doctor took a look and we decided that we should start planning for a surgery. Specifically, a surgery for the extraction of all 4 since it is pointless to have upper teeth without bottom ones. Before leaving though, he made me sign a surgery consent which was really scary. It listed a lot of things that could go wrong in the operation like for example, complete body paralysis. I thought to myself: Jesus Christ, is not this an easy and simple operation? What have I gotten myself into? WTFObviously, I had no choice, because not removing them can turn out to be very harmful for your body.

For those that do not know, here in Spain, we have public and free healthcare. However, if you are in need of an operation or surgery, it is not immediate unless it is life threatening. You basically get added to a list with other people that need a similar surgery and are near your location. Once all those people that applied before you are done, it will be your time. So, depending on your operation, you could easily wait for years or just a few days. In my case, it turned out to be 4 months.

I believe that it was during the 11th of October when during lunch. I got a confirmation call that my surgery could be tomorrow if I wanted. Unfortunately, I had to decline because I could not warn my workplace with such short notice. It would be very rude to inform them that tomorrow I would have to skip work due to a surgery. Even more when I recently started working there. Plus, I would need to take a few days of rest too. So, in the end, the actual operation date became the 20th of October.

Hospital stay and surgery

The Wednesday 20th of October, I had a surgery to extract my four wisdom tooth. I was kind of nervous since this would be my first and hopefully only surgery during my life. I did not have trouble sleeping so I had my usual 6 hours of sleep from 00:00 to 06:00. However, for the operation, they specifically told me that I could neither drink or eat at least, 8 hours prior. So therefore, I did not have breakfast nor drank any water at all. I was also instructed that someone should accompany me. As I would be in no condition to drive back after the operation, so my mother came along.

We arrived at the hospital at 9:20, 10 minutes before the scheduled surgery. Usually, you will need to wait some time until your turn but I was somehow lucky. It seemed that my surgery was actually at 9:10 so they were waiting for me. I was a little dumbfounded when they said that because I remember that they told me 9:30 on the call. As soon as it ended, I wrote it up and saved it on my computer. The possibility exists where I was wrong or I misheard but it also does not make much sense. In Catalan, 9:10 translates to les nou i deu meanwhile 9:30 to les nou i mitja or les nou i trenta. There is a huge difference between both variations but whatever this does not really matter, does it?

Before entering the surgery area which is different than the operation room. I had to equip and put some hygienic protections like a hairnet and some plastic shoe covers. Including additionally the usual COVID-19 protocols here in Spain which are a surgical mask and a hand sanitizer. The nurse guided me to the room I was going to stay and then told me some instructions to follow. Basically, I needed rinse my mouth with a medicine envelope and a plastic glass that she showed me. Take off all my belongings and clothes except the underwear, and wear the specific garment placed on the bed. Lastly, lie down on the bed, cover myself with a blanket and simply wait for the nurse to come back.

Sometime later, after finishing all the aforementioned procedure, the nurse returned and injected me with a needle the antibiotic. Surprisingly, this turned out to be scarier than the operation itself since I dislike needles a lot. The thought of an unknown, thin and long object entering your body strucks me. A few moments later, my hospital roommate came back from the same operation that I was about to undergo. He was perfectly fine, could speak without issues and was in a good condition overall. This lightened up my mood slightly since I was starting to get tense as the operation time was slowly approaching. Also, I had the chance to hear the doctor speaking with the boy about what to do in the upcoming days regarding, pain, medication and diet. I definitely learnt some interesting and useful information.

As I had to take off my watch and phone, I had no idea how much time I stayed laying on the bed waiting. However, at some point they led me to the operating room which I had to go by walking but it was not that far to begin with. To be honest, I expected that I would be brought using the typical doctor movie or series method, where the patients get moved on the rolling bed but I guess that is for more extreme cases. It makes sense but that was kind of a letdown.

Once I was in the operating room, I heard classical music playing in the background. Specifically at that time, Nocturne of Chopin was playing, which is actually my favourite classical composition. The operation itself was extremely fast or I lost track of time due to the sedative. It took more time to make all the preparations that the operation itself or that is what I believe.

Before the surgery officially began, they covered my whole head to prevent me from seeing anything during the whole process. The reason behind that because I obviously asked for, is to avoid unnecessary distractions and light bounces. Plus, it also greatly helps in calming down the patient. It would be very unnerving seeing some unknown people messing with your mouth constantly. As the surgery finished, I asked how much it took only to get told “You should not be talking!”. Then I was brought back to the same resting room from before.

The nurse told me that the surgery was a complete success and that I should rest for around half an hour laid on the bed. So, they could track how I was faring and decided whether or not after that period, if I was in a good condition to leave the hospital. For the successful operation, I found myself in quite the horrid state compared to my roommate which had already left. He was able to speak clearly and without troubles meanwhile I could barely open my mouth. It felt like I did not have a mouth. The same feeling you experience when you are very cold and you cannot feel certain body parts.

I had two gauzes to chew on both sides of my mouth. That was probably to prevent an infection plus to stop partially the bleeding but I have no idea why. Those gauzes would cause me trouble since I was bleeding a lot and I needed to swallow often. However, every time that I did, the gauzes moved slightly deeper in my mouth. There was a time that I thought that I would die because I almost swallowed a gauze. At that point I decided that for the sake of my life. I could not keep having those gauzes in my mouth. However, I was hesitant in removing them sooner because I was really afraid to put my fingers inside my mouth as I could damage myself or even get an infection. I had to do it and fortunately nothing bad happened.

So, I removed them and called the nurse by pressing a button that you have next to your bed. Quite handy indeed. It took her a while to understand what I was trying to convey, as I could barely speak. Once she understood though, she came and gave me ice instead. Then, for the remaining of the half an hour, nothing really interesting happened. The surgeon came to visit me and explained me briefly the medication, diet and recovery that I should follow. Along with the prescription paper stating all that in more detail. More or less, it was the same exact conversation that my now gone roommate had.

Basically, for the first three days, I would need to take an analgesic every 8 hours. For the first week, a medicine that I already forgot its purpose also every 8 hours. Lastly, for 10 days, some kind of mouthwash with the same interval as the other medicines. Additionally, I would need to have a cold liquid diet for two days plus put ice on both of my cheeks as I deemed properly indefinitely.

As I got the hospital approval allowing me to leave. I made the reverse procedure of what I followed when I entered the surgery zone. Dressing up and all that. Back then, I did not pay too much attention to it. Yet throwing away the plastic glass that I used to rinse my mouth at the beginning, would be a mistake. I was still bleeding a lot, so I needed to constantly swallow blood and that was personally a disgusting feeling. That plastic glass would probably have helped against that but I could also not spit, so hard to say. The only way that I could get the blood of my mouth was to tilt my head downwards and let gravity do its magic. All my mouth muscles were unresponsive.

My mom greeted me when she saw me and asked me how was I doing. Which I answered “Alright, but I can barely speak” while giving a thumbs up. Before leaving the hospital, we acquired the surgery receipt as I needed it for my job. The whole stay turned out to be exactly 2 hours as I entered at 9:20 and left at 11:20. The car ride home was 20 minutes me holding and swallowing blood as I expected. This is when the plastic glass would probably have been useful if I had not thrown it. However, I realized that after I had already left my room so it was too late.

Recovery

I was not sure how I should address the recovery part to make it short, interesting and readable. In the end, I decided to opt for the classic survival report style where you summarize each day. Although, I will only explain the first week as it is the most meaningful one. I am going to add in the end a section with my current status, to be able to make comparisons.

Day 1 (2021/11/20)

The sedative was still kicking strong so I was not feeling any pain at all. My father went to get all the medicines before lunch so I could start my treatment right away. It took me 2 hours to eat a cold bowl of soup for lunch. Surprisingly, I was not particularly hungry even though it had been more than 16 hours since I my last meal. During the whole day, I had to go every often to the bathroom to remove the blood of my mouth. 

The dinner also took me around 2 hours to finish. I was afraid of sleeping laid on the bed as I could potentially choke on my own blood. So, I took two extra cushions and slept in an upright position. Surprisingly, I managed to sleep the first 3 complete hours without interruptions. After those, I would sleep in intervals of one hour and proceed to wake up.

Day 2 (2021/11/21)

I woke up very sweaty and hot but I did not pay too much attention to it as I was in pain. The sedative effect was starting to diminish and therefore, the pain started to appear. I decided to go straight to eat breakfast. I wanted to test if taking the analgesic would lessen the pain and luckily, it did. For breakfast, I ended up having a simple bowl of milk with cookies as I could not eat anything else.

Later on, during the day, I took my temperature and I had fever, 38.2ºC. I was still bleeding so I still had to go periodically to the bathroom to take out the blood. Way less often than the first day though. As I did not have to go to work, I had plenty of time. I thought that I would get better in no time, so I had expectations that I would be able to progress on my Unreal Engine project but I was completely wrong.

I spent most of my time either playing, reading or watching series. There was not much that I could do anyways. As the stubborn individual that I am, I forced myself to continue doing my daily Japanese goals in Duolingo. I was in a 90+ day streak and I was not planning to lose it. Those usually took me between half an hour or one whole. Due to the pain and pauses though, they got stretched to 3 hours instead.

The meals’ time efficiency did not improve at all since my mouth was still pretty much unresponsive. I could speak if I wanted, but opening slightly my mouth even when eating, would hurt so I avoided it. However, where I saw a huge improvement was in sleeping where from this day and forward. I would consistently be able to sleep the whole 6 hours that I usually do.

Day 3 (2021/11/22)

Day 3 was by far the worst day of all. Although, it also marks the point where I gradually start getting better.

I woke up with way more pain than day 2. First thing I did, was take my temperature and saw that my fever got worse, this time being around 38.6ºC. Ate the same breakfast as yesterday and took my medicines which greatly reduced my pain but it was still strong.

Blood would spontaneously come out but it ceased being a problem. At some point during the day, this completely stopped. The main problems at this stage, where the pain and opening the mouth.

Day 4 (2021/11/23)

Once again, I wake up with fever. The same 38.6ºC I had yesterday. Weirdly enough, I was feeling great unlike the other previous days and stayed like that all day. I thought to myself that maybe my body got used to the fever. After two whole days with constant high fever, it might make some sense because the human body adapts easily and fast. Maybe it is a genius statement or a dumb one but they do say each body is a different world. I have no idea what really happened and I still do not know and I will never know. The fever gradually started dropping till it disappeared somewhere around midday.

So basically, pain was not an issue for the whole day. Unfortunately, this would be the last day of painkillers so I was worried about how day 5 would unfold. The only problem which was very important and would continue being in the future, was opening my mouth. Also, if I can remember properly, this is the first day that I started brushing my teeth once again. After the surgery, I had not done it a single time yet because that would not seem a wise choice.

Meals were very slowly improving but way too slow. If we recall the prescription that the doctor gave me. I should be able to start eating normally after 2-3 days after the surgery. I was in no way remotely close to that situation when to begin with, I could hardly open my mouth. My mother had to still cook for me mostly liquid dishes like soups or similar.

I was still sleeping in an upright position on the bed with 3 cushions. For the fourth night, I decided to remove one of them and see how I would fare.

Day 5 (2021/11/24)

Day 5 actually landed on my anniversary and I turned 23 years old.

I had no problems sleeping with one less cushion. Sleeping on such position was quite uncomfortable so I was glad taking one off. One small step closer to normal life but I still had an extra cushion I wanted to remove.

The bad news is that I woke up with pain. Not a worrisome amount of pain but it was still very bothersome. That was also a big win for myself as that meant that I would not need to take additional medication. To top it off, tomorrow I would need to go back to work.

There is a nice tradition in my workplace, where employees celebrate the birthdays or important events of others. Mine would be celebrated tomorrow and I had to bring something to eat. I promised to my co-workers that I would create and bake for them palmiers and so I did. That would not prove to be enough so my father ordered some coca, a Catalan pastry, to bring as well.

For breakfast, I wanted to try if I could eat half slice of bread. In the end, this proved too difficult as I could still not open the mouth enough. However, I did take a few bites off. Progress was just very slow as I explained before. So I had to return to the classic milk with cookies that I had been having each day.

Regarding other meals, I started moving away from a liquid diet and made a step towards bigger pasta and soft meats. I did not mention this, but I had been eating fish if I am not wrong from the very beginning. Fish is way softer that meat so therefore easier to eat. The problem I had so far with food was that if it was either too big or too sturdy or strong for my mouth and teeth to handle.

Day 6 (2021/11/25)

I woke up at 6 AM as usual while not feeling particularly great but way better than day 5. I took my temperature as a precautionary measure and I was fine.

Ate my breakfast with no problems and then me and my father went to get the cocas we ordered they day before. I was the one that drove because I wanted to test if I could do so without any issues. Once we returned, it was already time to go to work so I placed everything on the car and left.

The day at work was a bit special as we celebrated my birthday but other than that it went alright. I had some trouble eating the coca and palmiers that I prepared but if I ate them slowly and with small bites, I could do so. I was worried that my current state would affect my performance but it did not seem to be the case. Or at least the difference was so small that I did not notice it at all.

At midday, I returned home to eat lunch with my family. I was still quite slow at eating but instead of 2 hours, now it took me around only one. Enough time to eat and return straight to work which was more than sufficient for me.

Day 7 (2021/11/26)

I do not recall how well I woke up that day. However, not remembering might be a good sign that I was feeling good that day. What I do remember is that for breakfast I tried eating half a slice of bread once again. This time managing to pull it off but it took its time.

Today, I would finish the treatment of another medicine that I was taking for the surgery recovery. Leaving me only with the mouthwash that I had to keep using till day 10. Slowly but surely, I was starting to return to my normal life.

Moreover, this day itself was proof of it since it went by just like any other day while following the routine that I always try to do. Wake up, eat breakfast, do my Japanese lessons, go to work, eat lunch at home, return to work, go home, watch a series, eat dinner, play some games and go to sleep mainly.

It was the beginning of the end.

Current status (2021/12/01)

After almost 2 weeks from the surgery and six days later than day 7. I have almost restored the original capabilities that I had prior to the surgery. I am doing almost everything as I used to within the usual time window. The only action that I still have very specific and minor issues with, is eating. I cannot still eat food which is either very big or very strong to tear apart. But that does not concern me at all as only a miniscule selection of food it applies for.

I am expecting that with the whole November to recover, I will heal completely. I am going to be able to test that because during December, it is tradition here in Catalonia, to eat torró. That is by far the hardest and toughest food that I have ever tasted and I quite like it. So hopefully, I will be able to eat it.

What does not kill you, makes you stronger.
Friedrich Nietzsche - Philosopher
Friedrich Nietzsche
Philosopher
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