With some thoughts of fear, the unknown, finality and a possible regret, I headed to bed by 10:00 PM. I love my sleep and instinctively knew Tuesday night (the 17) would take me over an hour to at least get to the doors of La La Land. My brain was swirling with anticipation, fear and trying desperately to imagine how the whole procedure would go down.
Surprisingly I was up earlier than thought. I’ll do this when I’m anxious the night before. I’m the kind that wants something done, and done now. Impatience runs throughout my bones. Within 20 minutes we were driving down the highway to St. Catharines General Hospital to finally get my dentures and partials done. The little yellow container holding the dentures and partials sat atop my lap with an envelope of paperwork to be handed in upon arrival. I felt somewhat calm at this point. Perhaps thinking that this was it. All will soon be over and I’ll be back to my old smile, and the ability to chomp on good food again without having to gnaw away for half an hour after each bite!!
Arriving at the Outpatient Service we were escorted by a lovely volunteer to the patient bed area and were greeted by a very attentive nurse who kicked Nat out until I was settled. He toddled off to the waiting room as I began the usual ordeal of donning those wonderfully designed hospital gowns (“just strip down to your undies”), blood pressure, diabetes check, temperature, heart rate, etc., etc. More questions asked that had been asked a hundred times before with every appointment I’ve had during this entire ordeal. I could almost answer them by memory. At least I was ready for them and had made numerous copies of my medical record, lovingly done by my GP who is very efficient, along with numerous copies of my medicines. Always helps a great deal to be pre-prepared with such things, especially when your memory is fading and you look to the ceiling for answers!
Nat was soon summoned by my bedside as we waited for 10:45 AM – my procedure time. We didn’t have a whole lot of talking to do but watched as the rest of the nursing staff settled in all of the new patients coming in for whatever procedure they were having done. Even one older lady saying she’d never had an operation in her whole life. What a treat that must have been!! Nat and I also couldn’t get over the attentiveness of the nursing staff and the efficiency of which they were running the Outpatient Service. They were friendly, informative and certainly knew their jobs. As I’m a difficult one to get an Intravenous hook-up, they immediately called for the Charge Nurse who was a real pro at such things. They were right. She was very good and not even a bruise afterward once it was removed!!
Just prior to that, the Anesthesiologist dropped by to check on my meds (what I had taken and what I had not). He sounded Russion or Ukranian and was in a great mood. We had a couple of laughs – which is always useful when you know this man is going to knock you out!!
The time soon came and I was ushered a short distance down to the Operating Room previously booked by my Dental Surgeon – Dr. Carriero. Everyone in the room greeted me like an old friend – that’s always a relaxing way to go – and after trying to get the old broad switched over to the thinnest operating table you can imagine – I was soon off to La La Land. I was a bit surprised, however, to see that they still use a small amount of gas through a mask, instead of a direct injection into the Intravenous. Cool!!
As soon as I was off and out of it, I found myself struggling to wake up in the Recovery Room. Nurses were talking to me as my eyes were trying to focus and find out whether they were talking to me or someone else. Within several minutes I began to focus and felt like I had been punched in the mouth along with inheriting a whole lot of teeth. At least now I told myself – It Was Finally Over.
After 3/4 hour in Recovery I was ushered back to the Outpatient Room to check my vitals again, make sure I could walk without looking drunk and finally put my clothes back on. Nat went for the wheelchair (hospital policy – no walking out the door) and we were soon off and headed for home. Blessed, blessed home!!
Nat said he was surprised how well I took the entire thing – the swelling, the bruised cheek, the little black dot on my right cheek that wasn’t there prior and even the pain. I reminded him what the Anesthesiologist said – “I should write a book” about all of the things this old body has been through since the age of 3. My body has been brainwashed into doing what I’m told when it comes to surgeries, medical tests, etc. I’ve also developed a large intolerance to pain. This 69 year old piece of skin, bone, muscle mass and organs has been poked, prodded, pricked, along with one organ going out and another replacing, that it’s become my fortess for such things. When your life has been in and out of hospitals so much as mine, you begin to develop (as they say) “a thick skin”.
The rest of the day was naturally spent quietly in the living room – ice packs on the cheeks to keep any swelling down – and wriggling my tongue around the inside of my mouth to see if I could check things out. I finally took a look in a mirror and wondered “what’s the other guy look like”. Looking like I had been punched in the mouth with a good left hook I returned to my recliner and tried to block the image out. However, I did tell myself, this too will subside as the days go on. It’s the eating that will be the bain of my existence – only being able to eat soft foods (Jello, mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs, ice cream, soup, well-cooked pastas, etc.) – for the next week. God, I’m going to miss the meat, fresh breaded haddock, french fries and maybe a bag of Cracker Jacks once in awhile. This too, Twila, shall pass as the days go on.
This whole procedure, to my way of thinking, should now be my last visit to any hospital for any other purpose, except for transplant check-ups, for quite some time. I’ve endured numerous childhood surgeries and tests, kidney dialysis (home and hospital), fluid around the lungs, the kidney transplant, a few rejection visits, my native kidneys removed, a large polyp removed, my cataracts removed, and now my new teeth. I can pretty much state a good part of my body has endured more than its share. Now that I feel so much like my old self (whatever that is – maybe in my 30’s, the best years I’ve had without any medical procedures) hopefully I can now say to myself, with my new best smile – Good to see you, again.