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Saturday, November 18, 2023

It's been a rough road

Yesterday was the first day I felt remotely okay. Still I tired very easily and needed regular doses of Advil and Tylenol. I have swelling around both eyes (with lovely black and blue around each), so I've needed to limit my screen time, as well as bright lights. I'll see the oral surgeon in a couple of days for a follow-up.

The surgical experience was terrifying, as I told my daughter as we walked to the car immediately afterward. Both IV sedation and sleeping pill sedation were medically ruled out for me. My remaining option was laughing gas combined with lidocaine. Usually, lidocaine injections are prepared with epinephrine to extend the time of nerve-blocking effect. I'm allergic to epinephrine, so always have to remind dental professionals to leave it out (I remind them multiple times and ask if it's in my chart a couple of times too, just to be on the safe side). The end result is I need additional injections midway through any procedure, but it is up to me to speak up and tell them pain is returning.

So, they put the nitrous mask on me (laughing gas) and I begin taking deep breaths while the nurse does my blood draw. She must have thought the laughing gas was working for me, as I'm pretty relaxed during blood draws now. Shortly after, the oral surgeon came in and gave me 4 injections of lidocaine. As was mentioned in the comments a while ago, the palate side injections (into the roof of the mouth) are far more painful than the cheek side injections. I definitely flinched during those. 

At that time, I didn't realize that they usually begin with lower concentrations of nitrous in the nitrous/oxygen mix, then work up as necessary. I wish someone had explained this to me, that I needed to signal that I wanted more nitrous than I was getting. As a result, I felt no effect from the laughing gas, no relaxation, no nothing. I basically had the extraction and surgery with just lidocaine, and the whole thing was simply terrifying. The lidocaine wore off part way through, so I signaled for another injection. This was not how I had anticipated the procedure would go.

The pain came on quickly as we were driving home. What I realize now is I should have either requested one final lidocaine injection before leaving the surgical center or brought Advil and Tylenol with me to take in the parking lot as we drove away. All numbing had completely worn off by the time I got home, and pretty intense pain was setting in. I did get an rx for narcotic pain killers, but those didn't work out for me. I had an adverse breathing incident that lasted about 45 minutes after taking half of a tablet. I'm not sure if it's a true allergy or not, but I didn't want to take any more chances. I've been dosing with both Advil and Tylenol on a schedule since.

That's the end of this leg of the saga. I will need an additional surgery prior to post implant work. So, I will be working with my medical doctor and the oral surgeon to put together a better anesthesia plan for the surgery itself and pain management plan for post-surgery. What I went through this time was unacceptable at several junctures.

The people who were heroes in all of this

There have been some people who went above and beyond their job description for me during this period. 

Our local pharmacists have been absolute heroes. I've needed 3 prescriptions for antibiotics and 1 for pain killers. This is the busiest pharmacy I've ever encountered. The turn around time to get your prescription is always several hours out. When picking up my first prescription, I mentioned to the pharmacist that I had a bad tooth infection and couldn't wait for the antibiotics to kick in. She told me in the future, if I felt I needed the rx right away, to give them a call and they'd expedite mine. That's exactly what I did the other 3 times. The pain killer rx wasn't due to be ready for 3 more hours when my daughter called in for me. They had it ready in 15 minutes. I am thinking of how to thank them personally. I may bring a large box of See's over in December as a thank you.

The doctors at the walk-in clinic where I had to go twice to get prescriptions for antibiotics were kind, compassionate, and knowledgeable. The endodontist where I got an extra opinion at the very beginning was kind and took her time explaining what was going on in my mouth and sinus cavity. Sometimes you need to receive compassionate and informed care to see that what you've been getting is subpar. 

The phlebotomy techs at the lab where I now prefer to get my blood draws are very good. I barely bruised and was in and out quickly for each draw (in stark contrast to the blood draw done at the hospital one evening -- big lump on my arm the next day).

The nurse who attended to me during the surgery was kind, caring, provided additional and helpful information, and was the best at drawing blood I've ever had. The bruise after was so tiny.

You friends, who prayed for me or provided kind and compassionate words, are so valuable. I had days where I just felt like someone must've just prayed for me, as I would feel relief from pain or anxiety seemingly out of the blue. Thank you all.

Not to be minimized by mentioning them last -- my daughters and my husband have been my support system through all of this. They all came with me and sat in the waiting room, then once home brought me medications and food as I needed. They've done all of the cooking and chores, and tried to cheer me up, distract me, or just leave me in quiet when I needed that. They ran out to the store on a couple of occasions to pick up a special toothbrush and some soft foods. 

I feel grateful to have received so much kindness and compassion. It does make up for those times when things weren't going so well.

And now, I need to start getting ready for Thanksgiving. Today I'm baking 3 loaves of bread, one to use in bread and vegetable poultry stuffing/dressing. In the days leading up to the surgery, I baked up and pureed 3 large pumpkins, freezing them for pies. I also pre-made the pie pastry and lined 2 pie tins for the freezer, so pie-making should be quick. My daughters will be making 2 side dishes. I'll ask my son and daughter-in-law to bring whatever they'd like to have. And that just leaves the meat. We won't be doing turkey, as I don't want the hassle of dealing with the leftovers and carcass. Instead, we'll do a pre-marinated pork loin and a whole chicken for the meat portion. Our Thanksgiving dinner will be a simpler one this year.

How about you? Are you preparing for Thanksgiving? How has your life been these last couple of weeks? Thank you again for your kindness and patience. I should be back on track now. Wishing you all a lovely rest of your weekend.

p.s. I know several of you have been reading along in the Psalms with me. This was the one area of screen time that I took each day. I was surprised and blessed by these particular Psalms. So many days these were the words I needed to read. I hope they've been blessing you, too.


  1. Well, my last two weeks have been a lot better than yours. What an ordeal! I'm glad to hear that you finally feel well enough to spend some time in the kitchen. I've never had laughing gas, so thanks for the heads up on how they usually administer it. My son once had dental work (drilling for an implant from a missing tooth) where he told the surgeon he was not numb. However, the dentist just thought he was a dramatic kid and kept on. He had the whole procedure with little to no numbing. However, most professionals are competent and caring as you pointed out in your list. Here's wishing you a calm and painless Thanksgiving with your family.

    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      That's good to hear that your last two weeks have been much better than mine. I'm slowly recovering. Today I was able to spend the entire morning working without needing to rest. That's progress.

      That's just awful what your son went through with the oral surgeon. That's unacceptable. I've had dentists who insisted I wasn't feeling pain or seemed impatient with me. There needs to be a way to keep these types of people out of dentistry or put them out of business.

      I hope you and your family have a lovely Thanksgiving together.

  2. So glad to see you are back at it. I hope you continue to heal. Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. Hi Amy,
      Thank you. I'm on the road to recovery and feeling a bit better everyday.
      Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving with your loved ones, as well!

  3. I'm so sorry you had such a rough time. I will continue to pray.
    I can't handle the epinephrine injections either, and must be vigilant that they don't use that on me. Yes, roof of mouth injections are absolutely horrible. For the one implant I have, the oral surgeon just gave me the injection with no warning. I made such a noise that I was embarrassed. All I could do was joke and say I bet I cleared your waiting room. The rest of the implant process was fine (except the $$$), but I refuse to go back to that oral surgeon.
    Please take care not to overdo. Let hubby and children spoil you during this time of
    May everyone have a blessed and happy Thanksgiving!

    1. Hi Jo,
      Thank you so much for continued prayers. I so appreciate you for praying for me.

      Dental procedures are so stressful and painful. That palate injection must have caught you off guard. No wonder you made a loud noise. If I hadn't been prepared by the comments here for the pain from that type of injection, I would have made a very audible noise, too. I don't think we should feel embarrassed when something being done causes us pain. I'm glad you have the wit to make a joke about it.

      Have a happy Thanksgiving, Jo!

  4. Oh Lili. I'm so sorry that you had so many extra hurdles to go through, including the pain. When you have an experience like that where your pain is poorly controlled, it colors any future medical experiences you may have. What an ordeal. Did anyone suggest to you to take pain medicine (Advil, probably, to minimize bleeding, although you could always ask about Ibuprofen) prior to your procedure? My dentist recommends doing that, to get a head start on pain. Pain is easier to control in the earlier stages, before it gets too ramped up. I'm glad you have a plan with your primary physician as well as your oral surgeon for future work you plan to have done.

    Your comment about the lidocaine/epinephrine reminded me that I had a bad experience with that combo a year and a half ago. I had an endometrial ablation in my gynecologist's office. He is excellent, btw, and when he did the pre-surgical biopsy, he told me that he uses the biopsy to see how his patients manage the pain and if they can tolerate an in-office procedure or if they instead need to do it with full anesthesia at the hospital. I did fine with his "test" and opted for the in-office option. Long story short, the lidocaine/epinephrine shot gave me the worst headache of my life--I felt like the top of my head was blowing off. It ended up being temporary pain (although it didn't feel that way at the time) but I don't want to ever have to go through that again. My doctor told me afterwards that I really scared him and he thought he'd be sending me to the hospital. Anyway, all to say, when I saw that you mentioned the lido/epi combo, my first thought was, "oh no!".

    I echo Jo's comment about not overdoing during this holiday season. You need to take care of you. I'm glad to see that you are keeping Thanksgiving simple--I suspect that you will need to scale back on Christmas this year, too. Know that we are continuing to hold you in prayer.

    1. Hi Kris,
      I actually asked what I could and could not take before the procedure, specifically asking about Tylenol and Advil, as I was in constant pain at that point. And I was told I could not take any pain relievers before hand. So I took my usual pain relievers as late the night before and still counted as the previous day (not the morning of), then God took care of the rest. I woke up without pain and got through the morning until my appointment. I do take Advil before any appointments that might include pain and it seems to help.

      Your experience with epinephrine/lidocaine sounds awful. My heart races and my blood pressure skyrockets to dangerous levels when I have epinephrine. I wonder if your sudden terrible headache was a blood pressure thing. That is scary.

      What I learned from my experience is that I really need to advocate for myself better. I've never been very good at that.

      Thank you for continued prayers. I so appreciate them.

      I've already been thinking of how to simplify some of our Christmas plans. Simple is good! Wishing you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving, Kris!

  5. Dental cleaning were never a problem for me but getting older it's getting more and more difficult. Not as bad as yours but I'm hoping the end result will be pain free and that you never have to do anything like that again. I'll keep praying for peace for the remaining things that need to be done.

  6. Lynn from NC Outer BanksNovember 20, 2023 at 7:23 PM

    I've been out of the loop as I've been with my mother this last month. I'm sorry your experience was so torturous. I'm at least glad that the first phase is behind you and, having learned from this procedure, you can devise a dental and pain plan that is better for you. I have some dental work coming up too which I also dread. :(

  7. So happy that you made it through this difficult dental surgery. Very glad you are feeling better. Please advocate for yourself. I am kind of a "diva" at the dentist, just for regular stuff. Fortunately, my dentist knows & loves me. But, I tell her when my hand goes up--just stop! (and she does) I will keep you in my prayers. Happy Thanksgiving. Cari Gas prices by me in Midwest, Chicago land $2.78 today.


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