This week in the oral surgery industry, I get my wisdom teeth taken out. This was never supposed to happen; my dentist originally justified the ordeal as medically necessary because a “rite of passage,” which just didn’t seem to cut it as a reason for a surgical procedure. Then the teeth actually grew in, and I stopped being able to eat tortilla chips. The upside to removal: A parentally, medically, and school-sanctioned drug experience! The downside: “Reina,” my father says on the phone. “You realize that if you’re on painkillers, you can’t drink cheap wine.” So this time, four dollar wine is about my wisdom teeth.
($160, insurance; Oral Surgeon)
The oral surgeon says that I will feel the laughing gas soon, and that I should not be nervous. I am zero nervous, considering that someone is about to use a large metal instrument to pull bones out of my head. The air coming from the nose mask is cool and tastes vaguely of plastic, with notes of holy shit my head is buzzing somewhere near the ceiling, who even am I anymore. Lights blinking. The oral surgeon says, “You will feel a lot of pressure; keep breathing!” I’m breathing like I’ve climbed six flights of stairs, or had an orgasm, or had an orgasm after climbing six flights of stairs. There is a pulling sensation—holy fuck—and (keep breathing) (oh my god keep breathing) I think my teeth are being—holy fuck. “Keep breathing!” the oral surgeon repeats, cheerful as all hell. Breathing! I’m breathing! Jesus, drugs are cool. The grownups tell you not to use drugs, but what they really mean is you should only use drugs when grownups tell you to use them, and if you don’t have health insurance, you’re shit out of luck. Drug laws are a tool of social control that oppress disparately along race and class lines. Nancy Reagan lied. “All done!” the oral surgeon is saying, standing over me with my teeth clutched in her gloved hands.
($6.50, insurance; Walgreens in Central)
There is no place on this earth bleaker than the Central Square Walgreens. Except maybe the Harvard Square CVS, which was a shining beacon of light until the very kind pharmacist informed me they were not currently carrying Vicodin, and that I could try walking to Central instead. I wept. I then fast-walked to Central. The goddess pharmacist at Walgreens glows in the industrial light/tail end of nitrous, and I thank her with genuine love. I’m walking back to Harvard Square when a suit-clad man on the side of the road decides it is a good idea to catcall me. It is not a good idea. “Hey, baby,” he says, a strange epithet considering that my stature, swollen cheeks, and obvious secondary sex characteristics indicate I am not a small child, but rather a cranky, nitrous-addled bitch you do not want to mess with right now. I give him a big, sweet, open-mouthed smile. I hope he sees the gauze. I don’t actually take any of the Vicodin.
(About $4; CVS)
Five fun tips to make your wisdom teeth recovery fabulous!
1. Having difficulty talking? That’s great. Women should be seen, not heard.
2. Don’t think of your inability to eat solid food as a hindrance; think of it as a diet! Because it’s totally not fucked up that people always tell me I look better after I’ve lost a few pounds due to illness.
3. Prevent boys from even gazing upon your swollen face by telling them beforehand that you’ll be out of commission for menstrual reasons. They’ll run!
4. There’s nothing painting your nails can’t fix, including the fact that you can’t fucking close your mouth, Jesus Christ my jaw.
5. If you’re going to subsist exclusively on chocolate milk for the next three days, drink it out of a wine glass.
This post originally appeared on The Harvard Crimson.