During the summer of 1992, I started to have a pain in my upper jaw. The pain wasn't very consistent but it would come in spits and spurts, and when it came I would be in agony. Eventually it warranted a visit to the only NHS dentist in Southend-on-Sea, a delightfully masochistic Indian lady who took great pleasure in knackering people's dental past (but that's another story). She informed me that the pain was due to my wisdom teeth (something my father asked to be put in), and referred me to a friendly dentist at Southend's hospital. I had two impacted wisdom teeth, one each side, and they had to be removed in a simple procedure done under local anaesthetic. I was assured I wouldn't feel much. Some 4 weeks later I returned late one afternoon for the 45 minute process. (You just know this is going to be bad...)
The dentist first of all removed the molar at the back that was in the way. That took him no more then a couple of minutes. He then fannied about in the back of my mouth for what seemed like hours, but was probably only 20 minutes. Tutting, he said "No, it's no good, we'll have to take the other tooth out as well." So now I was devoid of 2 teeth, before I'd even had the wisdom taken out. Out came the air powered dremel, black and decker and trolley jack, and yet he still couldn't get the damn wisdom tooth out. Again a long battle ensued, and finally after an hour, he calmly said I'd hear a loud crack. He pulled, and a noise akin to a stick breaking occurred whereupon he showed me the offending wisdom *inside* what was part of my upper jaw, now feeling strangely homesick. He popped the tooth out the bone, and replaced the bone back into my gaping jaw. Within 10 minutes, I was all sewn up, and packed off with a prescription for painkillers and a leaflet on what not to do. I'd been there 2 and a half hours, and he'd even admitted I should have had that done under full anaesthetic. I'd walked to the hospital, and considering I only lived a couple of miles away, I planned on walking home as well, but I had to get my housemate Ian to come and collect me.
That night I didn't sleep very well. I woke up at one point to find my pillow awash with blood, and the headache I now had was pounding very heavily. The next morning I got up to the phone ringing, after my dog had escaped and turned up in someone else's backgarden so I had to go and collect him. I got home, and only then did I look in the mirror. Someone during the night had given me a transplant, replacing the left side of my face with a basketball. I spent the next 4 weeks unable to eat anything that required chewing (Crosse and Blackwell Spaghetti Bolognaise in a tin was a godsend!), swilling out with saltwater every hour, and poking around when I shouldn't where the 8 stitches (yes, 8 stitches) were itching. Eventually I had the stitches out, and to this day I have a huge hole in the back of all my teeth.
Some 6 weeks later, I had to go through it all again, for the other side.
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