Two longtime residents of my mouth are being uprooted this morning in the sake of dental health. One of them, #1, as he's known is only a partial tooth that keeps getting infected; #32 lives close by, and is sympathetic to the infection of his neighbor, to the point of impaction. I've felt hints of insurrection before, and now its time to quash the rebellion of these so-called wisdom teeth.
Of course, I've never had surgery before, so I'm nervous. This will be general anesthesia, which sounds normal (it's so "general"...if it were "specific," then it'd be serious...) but isn't actually something that makes me comfortable. I know doctors (especially Beverly Hills adjacent doctors with great Yelp reviews) are professional, and so I'm not really afraid that while I'm out they'll pose me in different positions and pretend I'm a puppet, or that they'll tickle or poke me while I'm out just because it's funny to see an unconscious person not react to stimuli. Or that while I'm out, they'll point out to each other all the areas that could benefit from additional surgical work, dental or not. And I'm definitely not afraid that they'll comb my hair over my face and say, "Look! It's Cousin It from 'The Addams Family'!"
But the surgery is a typical one - done countless times by this doctor and countless others. It's part of the dentist's routine, and so many people have been through it that they all have advice to lend. Most of this advice is coming through over Facebook, and actually is looking to be quite helpful. One person recommended "fill pantyhose with ice and tie them around your head. Perfect to keep the swelling down!" which I never would have thought of. I'm also getting recommendations of what to eat while I'm restricted, and making a shopping list for the friend who's accompanying me to the procedure.
I'm also nervous about the post-surgery, the pain, the drugs that may alter my faculties and prevent me from getting work done, the having to rely on other people to get me things that I'd otherwise just get myself...but I'll have to get over that and ask for help, even if it's hard to impose on people.
And of course, I think about symbolism. With half of my wisdom teeth coming out today, I wonder if I'll feel lighter afterwards, or somehow less wise than I do now, when they crowd my mouth, infect me, or throb with pain. I wonder if the space will provide a space I never knew I so desperately needed, or if the gap will feel like a hole, an emptiness, like something's missing.
And almost as an afterthought, G-dcast reminds me that it's Parshat Shemini this week, which provides lists of animals that we can and cannot eat, sometimes providing a discernible why (bottom-feeders, scavengers, etc) and sometimes providing a "because I said so." This brings me to the wisdom of really considering - calorically, logistically, symbolically, ethically - what I'm ingesting. This week, as I indulge in "smooth food," I'll long for texture and temperature, but appreciate that the ingredients, and the content/nutritional value, are the same.
I'll try to learn lessons while under the influence of pain meds, but make no promises to myself or others while contemplating that foggy unknown. All I know going into any of this is that I have friends and family in my court, and that from impacted wisdom to extraction of wisdom, there's always much to consider.