Saturday, March 20, 2010

Goodbye, Teeth! or My Brain On Drugs

Okay -- I've been thinking that I should write an account of getting my wisdom teeth pulled. Not only because it was something big in my life and thus belongs on my blog if I want it there, but also because I think others who get their teeth pulled deserve to have accounts to read ahead of time to help prepare them. I'm officially adding my experience to the hundreds that are probably on here somewhere already.

We went in and first talked with the oral surgeon for a long time about different things that you will find boring and thus are not included.1 Then -- and I didn't know this going in -- Justin was not allowed to go with me into the room where they did the actual pulling! Augh! Didn't they know I needed him? I wish I had been forewarned on that one.

After going in and sitting down they strapped the heart rate monitor to my finger and put a blood pressure cuff on my arm. This was unhelpful -- it let me know exactly how stressed out I was. I was trying to calm myself down with little success when they put the thing over my nose for the nitrous oxide. I was breathing it in, wondering if it was going to be okay or if I was going to seriously regret this later, and nothing was happening. I asked what percent the gas was.

"100 percent," they tell me. Now I know they're trying to kill me for sure. But why am I not feeling anything?

"100 percent nitrous?" I ask in a disbelieving voice. Then they laugh at me and tell me it's 100 percent oxygen right now. That makes me feel a little better, but I'm still pretty tense at that point.

They turn on the nitrous oxide at a 50/50 mix and it makes me feel unbelievably dizzy. I ask them to turn it down. They proceeded to numb me up and forcibly yank my teeth out.

It was a really weird experience, like having two levels in my brain. There was the stupid level that was high on drugs and thinking really dumb things.2 Then below that was my sane brain -- I was fully aware and could think about how surreal the experience was and how stupid my other brain was being. I spent a lot of the time thinking about what my cognitive limits were and testing myself to see how fast I could think, which wasn't very fast. It was like my brain was slowed down.

Also, they kept talking to me like I was an idiot or a child. My high brain was okay with this, but the sane brain was kinda peeved. And it was interesting that while the nitrous oxide made me care less about what they were doing, my hands were still involuntarily clenched pretty much the whole time. My body was still stressed and definitely not relaxed. I remember at one point asking if my pulse was too fast. Every time I almost fell asleep my sane brain wouldn't let me. I know it's irrational, but I felt like if I did I might lose myself.

After it was all over I left with a mouth full of gauze and no feeling in the lower half of my face. Word of caution -- go straight to the pharmacy for your pain meds. We got stuck in traffic and had to pick the kids up first, so the numbness wore off completely before I got my prescription. It hurt really, really badly.

The biggest surprise for me was that it took me days -- more than a week -- to feel okay again, No one had mentioned that having your teeth pulled makes you feel like you have the flu. I was lethargic, dizzy, sometimes nauseated, and shaky for days. It was miserable. Add to that not being able to eat anything other than soup and pudding and such stuff and it was not something I would want to do again. I'm glad it's over.

1Well, not first. First was the x-ray machine that swiveled all the way around my head, making me feel like they were deliberately trying to give me brain cancer.
2Every time they said, "that one's out. We're going to clean now," it made my high brain want to say, "I love you guys!" My sane brain didn't let that happen.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The "Fire Bell" Response

We regularly check out movies from the library for Cormack.1 This time we've got three -- a Curious George film, a Clifford DVD, and a DVD that has two totally awesome shows on it -- one about construction trucks and one about firetrucks and firemen. Today I'm going to talk about the firemen.2

It showed how the firemen do lots of things while they have down time in the firehouse -- they cook, eat, wash dishes, play cards, watch TV, etc. Then while they were watching a training video3 the bell rings and they all jump up at the same time and briskly head off to save the day. No hesitation -- I don't think they even bothered to turn off the TV. This got me thinking.

I've been musing over this all day. What is my personal fire bell?4 What things do I drop everything for -- no hesitation, no questions asked? This is kind of a hard question for me to answer. There are some things that come to mind immediately, but I'm trying to set those aside and truly think about it. I've only been thinking about this for a day or so, so forgive me if it seems like I'm flying by the seat of my pants. I am.

First, my children and husband. It's a standard answer, but after fully thinking it through I can say unequivocally that I would drop everything in a heartbeat for any real need they had that I could fill.

Second -- well, that's the thing. I'm having trouble coming up with more that exactly fit the bill. But here's one that I think I do a pretty good job at: empathizing with others and performing acts of kindness and compassion. I'm by no means perfect, but I have been consciously training myself to drop everything and help others whenever I see the need. This also kind of relates to how I've been thinking a lot about Levinas lately and the face of the other.5 I'm not going to go into it in detail, but the idea is that when we see the face of the other, we see their true personhood and have a desire to fill their needs. I love this concept, though I'm botching it. It's this willingness to make the effort to see the humanity in everyone around you -- to see the similarities instead of the differences, if you will, and to let that evoke empathy and action in yourself. I want this to be a "fire bell" thing for me.

If you don't mind sharing, what things evoke a "fire bell" response in you? What things do you want to?

1This keeps us sane by regularly rotating the irritating juvenile cartoons present in our household. Thank goodness we don't have regular TV -- I'd go crazy without all this control!
2Who, in this DVD, all have Brooklyn accents. The perpetuation of the stereotype left me feeling weird but smiling along anyway.
3Right. Like I believe they spend their free time watching training videos.
4Or whatever it's called.
5I know I'm losing a lot of you at this point -- sorry. Go study Levinas; he's great.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Finally -- Another Post or Not Having Internet Was Driving Me Nuts!

My internet was down for awhile, but I've got it all fixed up now. It turned out that it was mysteriously one of the antivirus/spyware programs I installed that was blocking internet or something. Totally weird. Sadly, I have not discovered the reason behind our kernel stack errors/blue screens of death. I haven't seen one since yesterday morning. I'm going to cross my fingers and hope for the best.1 Since that problem was happening before the internet one, I don't think they're related. Sigh.

In good news, I was at my sister's today and weighed myself for the first time since December 1st when I weighed about 200 pounds. I'm just under 185 now! I've also just barely started fitting into some skirts and jeans I couldn't wear before. I have more I still can't fit into to motivate me to lose more weight. And in case you're interested, here are my reasons for losing weight/living healthier:

  • A lot of weight related health problems run in my family, so I want to maintain a healthy weight to decrease my risk.
  • I want to fit into my jeans and skirts again (and not have a lumpy silhouette).
  • With my old knee injuries it's really hard to play with my three-year-old. I know that losing weight can help decrease knee pain and I'm tired of living with it. I'm tired of being only 25 and having knee pain like this!
  • I want to be a good example for my children and raise them in a home where we have healthy attitudes about food and exercise.
  • I want to prove to myself that I can! If I can give birth twice without any pain meds and nurse a child for two years, I can do this, too.

I think the reason I'm having success so far is that I'm not trying to make huge changes, and lots of them, all at once.2 I've been making little changes, replacing things that are unhealthy with things that are borderline, and it's a difference, but it's one I can live with. Once I'm used to that I'll change a little more. I'm trying to drink more water, eat smaller portions of things that aren't as good for me, and eat more things that are both good for me and delicious.3 I know that if I feel deprived I'll quit, so I'm careful to always eat when I want to. If I want something sweet I eat it, but I keep it small and try to not choose the worst thing I could.

Sorry if you guys are tired of hearing about this stuff, but it's what I'm interested in right now. I promise next time will be about something else.4

1And look around online for some kind of help.
2Though I was certainly tempted.
3Like hummus, borscht, and fish. Not at the same time.
4Like contemporary Social theory. Watch out what you ask for.