I Made It Out Alive! (or, Surgery Is Fun Again!)

Not that there was any doubt really, but if you read my post over at Rock and Drool yesterday, you know that I had some high anxiety about the dental surgery I had yesterday. As it turns out, I do indeed have strong mental abilities and was able to avoid another mid-procedure panic attack. But I’ll start at the beginning.

I got up yesterday morning at the normal time and did a little freeweight workout, then took the dog for a walk. By that time, Jim and the kids were gone for the day and I left myself very little time to shower before I had to leave for Dr. P’s office. I did it on purpose, you know. Being in a rush = less time to think about being nervous.

I did think of one thing, though. I remembered music. Though they were unable to play the P!nk CD I brought in during my second surgery, maybe they had the kinks worked out by now and would be able to play a CD this time. It has been six years, after all. But what to bring? It had to be something that Dr. P and his staff would not be disgusted by. Hmm…

And then it came to me, I had a CD to review for my other blog! So, I threw Harry Connick Jr. into my purse and got on my way.

I signed in and took care of the other paperwork, and shortly after that I was overjoyed to be greeted by S, the surgical tech who I just adored from my last two procedures. She is right around my age, funny as hell, and we always had lots to talk about. She helped Dr. P keep me laughing during the first (and part of the second, til my panic attack) surgery. I was distressed after my second surgery six years back to hear that she left the practice (even though I wouldn’t see her anyway for my cleanings every six months and was hoping I’d never have to have the surgery again!), but last month I found out that she was back! Yay for me!

She took me to the back and got me set up in the chair as I told her about the Harry Connick Jr. review I had to do. She was SO excited. Apparently Harry is her dream man, outside of her husband. She asked the other surgical tech if they could put my CD into the computer so we could hear it during the surgery, but the other tech said it wasn’t working…but she put it into the stereo system that plays music throughout the ENTIRE office, so everybody got a preview!

S put the blood pressure cuff on my arm and she and I chatted while my mouth was numbing up; she is somebody I could definitely hang out with. She asked me how much detail I wanted during the surgery. They ask that a little like a server would ask how you want your steak or burgers cooked; basically Dr. P offers three levels of explanations: None, Basic, and Detailed. I told her that I wanted very basic this time, and explained what happened last time. She nodded and was fine with that.

Dr. P walked in, very formally shook my hand as he does every six months when I see him for checkups, and asked me how I was doing:

Dr. P: “How are you doing today?”

Me: “Fine, and you?”

Dr. P: “I’m doing well, except for this one thing; I woke up today and my hands are just shaking and they won’t stop, you know?”

Me, giggling a little: “Oh yeah? That’s too bad.”

Dr. P: “Yeah, but it’ll be okay, because usually what I do in these situations is, I have S shake the patient during the surgery; then we’re all moving together. It’ll be fine.”

*cue laughter*

Me: “Well, while you deal with your shaking, I just wanted to let you know that you have two jobs here today. I have to review this Harry Connick Jr. CD that is playing through the speakers and thought I’d see what you thought about it too, like if it’s ‘surgery-friendly’. Of course, tending to my teeth and gums would be paramount, but secondarily, let me know what you think about Harry.”

Dr. P: “Oh, teeth and gums first and THEN Harry? Are you sure? Because what if it’s so good that it distracts me?”

And that’s how it started. I’m not going to give you all of the gory details, but here’s a short list of highlights:

–Though I can’t stand mouth shots (especially the ones in the roof of my mouth: OUCH!), they were, as Dr. P promised, the worst part of the whole ordeal.

–The part where I had the panic attack last time, when he was, err, retrieving tissue from the roof of my mouth? Went much better this time. I focused hard on Harry Connick Jr. playing his piano and I focused hard on the conversation S was having with Dr. P about a wedding the entire staff recently attended together. My brain kept wanting to “go there” and panic, but I kept my eyes on the prize and mentally dragged my brain back from where it was going. Yay for brain power!

–Once again (as he has said for the last seven years I’ve been going to him), Dr. P told me this: “If anyone ever tells you that you have a big mouth, you tell them that *I* said they are wrong. Your mouth is tiny.” (Out of all the body parts that I’ve got, of course it has to be my mouth that’s tiny. Ugh)

–He also told me that a first-year dental student would be amazed at this procedure and would probably have a hard time with it because of the curvature of the roof of my mouth. Okay, great. Well, one MORE reason I was happy about whose hands I was in!

–They joked about this wedding that they went to, talked about movies, kiddie shows, and so much more: I literally laughed half the time I was in there. We also had a great time talking about the Hollywood types with their plastic surgery and when Dr. P was talking about “what’s her name, who dated Spencer Tracy” and how naturally beautiful she was, I had him take his hands and tools out of my mouth so I could numbly tell him, “Katherine Hepburn!” (Of course, he didn’t understand me the first two times because when you have a totally numb mouth, well…)

–They took pictures throughout, because apparently I have a great teaching mouth. And yes, I realize that sounds terrible. But you know what I mean.

At the end of the procedure, I enjoyed how Dr. P told me that the “graft just fit PERFECTLY, like a GLOVE”, because even though when you think about it, it sounds utterly disgusting, but how often does a person hear something like that? Just hilarious.

S retrieved my Harry Connick Jr. CD even though she threatened to distract me so that I’d forget about it and leave without it, and Dr. P gave me my little bag of at-home post-op instructions, telling me to call the office number 24 hours a day. If it was at night and the answering service didn’t have him contact me within five minutes, I was to call him at home (he wrote the number down for me).

So that was it! I came home, had a Wendy’s Frosty for lunch while Jim (home on lunch break) set me up on the couch and got my pain meds for me, and there I stayed. Late in the evening, Dr. P even called me from home to check on me. He is tremendous. If any of you in the Chicago area need a great periodontist, let me know; I’m happy to give you his information!

And that, my friends, brings you up-to-date. I’ve been on the couch since I got home yesterday except for a few bathroom breaks and, of course, to go up to my bed last night. Tomorrow I’ll be mostly on the couch and then teaching my spin class in the evening, mostly while walking around the room.

And hopefully, this is the last personal surgery story I’ll have to share on this blog. Halleluyah!

P.S. Thanks to all of you out there for checking on me, and for your well wishes and funny tweets. It’s all very much appreciated! xoxo

P.S.S. Interested in my Harry Connick Jr. CD review? Click here!



  • Sue

    Better you than me. I am a pretty big wimp with dental surgery stuff. Knock me out and get on with it. You are very brave! I would buy you a new Barbie if I were there!

  • JonnyTam13

    Great job making it through the procedure panic (attack) free! I'm not sure I could do the same. I'm a big wimp..but maybe I'll bring Harry with me if I ever need to (or fly to Chicago and see Dr. P)

  • Michelle

    Again, your mental fortitude impresses me. I'd be wayyyyyy up (down?) on Valium or knocked out. I'm getting the willies just reading this much. Good dentist though!

    So glad the surgery went well, and fingers crossed this is it for you!

  • Heather

    Your positive attitude never ceases to amaze me, Melisa. Seriously.

    I'm so glad that you made it out okay 🙂 And that you're feeling alright.


  • Huckdoll

    I need a Dr. P and Co.! What a great group of people, they really took good care of you. I'm glad you managed through it with no panic attack, you ARE very brave.

    Hey, when I go for my wisdom teeth removal can I come to you for a pep talk? Just thinking about it has me reaching for the paper bag… 😉

  • Kat

    Still can't get over how cool your periodontist is. You have a great teaching mouth? Your mouth went off and became a model? That is awesome. All I ever get to hear is, you have a big mouth or maybe a bad mouth but a teaching mouth? I am jealous.

  • surprised mom

    I'm so glad you came through this experience without having a panic attack. That's some brain power you have! I have had so much work done on my mouth that I can truly sympathize with you. The periodontists I have seen don't seem to come close to Dr. P. If I need one again, I'm calling! (Dear God, I pray, no more mouth surgery.)
    I hope recovery goes very smoothly! Do you really have to get off the couch to teach a spin class? Can't you get a substitute?