Appreciate Thy Gums

A few days ago, I experienced the very first surgery of my life: getting my wisdom teeth removed. In the days following, I had never felt so sick or dependent on others in my life.

For those who know me well, I just don’t do medicine. If I have a headache, I hydrate. If I feel a cold coming on (happens once a year tops), I stuff myself with greens and citrus-y fruits and protein. I am very aware of my body, and understand its limits. I know how to take care of it and heal. Getting four teeth ripped out of my mouth was not in my personal care cabinet. I had no idea what I was getting into.

Going in, I knew that I would be receiving an IV for general anesthesia. Genetically on my father’s side, I am basically allergic to any and all opioid drugs (painkillers, anesthesia… you get the picture). So there I was, half crying while the doctor hooked me up to different machines. I was terrified, because of how sick everyone in my family gets from anesthesia. I was anxious, because while rare, people can die under this medicine. Having never had medicine any stronger than strep throat antibiotics in my system, I could not help but dread the whole situation more and more every second.

Then, I passed out. When I came to, realized my shock and fatigue, and started crying because I was still alive and could move. Holy crap.

The following days were brutal, with fever and nausea riddling my body. My emotions were out of tune, and small insignificant things sent me into fits of tears. The painkillers made everything worse, so I chucked them. The worst of it? Not being able to eat.

There is something so powerful about very suddenly losing an ability you take for granted. I had experienced it once before, with an injury that put me out of the dance world for the rest of my life. But to not be able to eat? That was insanity. For five days now, I have only been able to take in soft, bland foods. My ability to chew my own food was stripped away for a few days, and suddenly I cannot appreciate having a functioning jaw and molars more. It gives me perspective and respect for those of us who lose supposed every day functions very suddenly and much more permanently than I.

Loving my mouth more and more as I heal,




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