Posts Tagged wisdom teeth

A Shoe Story

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This one may be for the ladies, but I think you’ll understand when I say that shoes can be so much more than shoes. They reflect your style, they help define us to the world, and they can change how you walk, strut, and feel about yourself. So where does that leave you when you can’t wear the shoes you want? When you’re stuck with shoes that don’t reflect who you are?

Alright, the shoe story actually starts with my wisdom teeth extraction. I got my wisdom teeth – all four, all impacted – removed back in mid-June. To say healing didn’t go smoothly is to put it lightly.

First off, the initial swelling lasted about two weeks before going down (with one mild dry socket). When it finally did go down, I was ecstatic. The only problem was that the left side of my chin was still pins and needles numb, which is uncomfortable and distracting. Of course, there’s apparently not a whole lot they can do about numbness except wait.

With the swelling down, I jumped back into working out because I’d made a goal to do a sprint triathlon (.5 mile swim, 12-17 mile bike, 3-4 mile run) by the end of the summer, and I was woefully out of shape.

Then fast forward to right before the Fourth of July and suddenly the right side of my jaw was in a lot of pain again. I went to visit my dentist, who at this point was pretty sick of me. He told me to wait it out.

Finally my jaw was so painful and swollen that I made an appointment to see my dentist and a new oral surgeon in the same day. My dentist again told me to wait. So I went to the oral surgeon, who told me that the extraction was so complex, my dentist should have referred me out and never should have attempted it in office. He also said the X-rays that my dentist had been working off of were abysmal.

Well, great. Of course I felt like an idiot, because I had a similar incident with an impacted tooth in high school. My dentist at the time thought that he could do a procedure to reveal and attach a brace to an impacted tooth. Mid-procedure, he leaves me sitting in the dentist chair, awake and bloody with a mouth full on cotton. Turns out he can’t do it, so they cart me away to an oral surgeon to knock me out and finish the operation. I may just have shit luck with dentists.

I ended up switching my care to the oral surgeon, if only because my dentist and I were getting pretty tired of my frequent visits.

Anywho, the new guy was worried my jaw had been fractured during surgery, which turned out to not be the case. He sent me away saying that probably my muscle ligaments had been severed and were having difficulty reattaching because the bone they had been attached to was no longer there. So I went on my less-than-merry way, being told again to just be patient.

But then it got even worse, so I went back to the oral surgeon (bless his soul, aside from the initial consolation fee and the cost of new, more sufficient X-rays, he hasn’t charged me a dime). The OS decided to do a biopsy of my jaw and found out that I had a blood tumor (super gross word meaning that blood has been collecting in my jaw where it shouldn’t have been – also called a hematoma). So… That was really f#*king gross. He had to poke me in a bunch of places inside my cheek with large needles and drain the blood. He also found and extracted two bone spurs, pieces of bone that didn’t get removed during surgery and were trying to work their way out of my jaw. My OS put me on five days of antibiotics.

And here’s where the shoes come in: to cheer myself up, I went shopping. I found myself the cutest shoes and bought them despite not really being able to wear heels because of my RA and their uncomfortably high price. At any rate, in the store I convinced myself that I could wear heels if I wanted.

Maybe heels are a state of mind? Like if they’re cute enough, and well-made (read expensive and Italian), I could wear them. Right? They made me feel feminine and pretty, and I really needed to feel that.

Wrong. Every time I went to wear them, my feet were more swollen than they’d been in the store and it was a blow to my ego. Each time I decided sore feet on top of a swollen jaw wouldn’t make me feel better, but not being able to wear the shoes I wanted to was making me feel worse.

After that I was STILL in pain and swollen, but I guess it was more because of all the needle pokes. A couple days post operation I started getting better and I was seriously soooooooo happy. I danced around my living room beaming.

I went back to some lighter workouts, thinking that maybe I still had a chance at a triathlon in August.

Then, a week later, wham. I found myself back at the oral surgeon’s office, getting a new hematoma drained from my right jaw. Painful, time-consuming grossness. This meant another couple days of recovery and another seven days of antibiotics. Which also meant another week of not taking my RA drugs since fighting infection and restricting your immune system don’t exactly go hand in hand.

It’s been a week and a half of not going anywhere near the gym or my running shoes, trying to keep my blood pressure low, sleeping on my left side only, and trying to keep my head elevated. I’m happy to report that, today, I feel mostly fine and look normal. Yay!

As for the shoes, they met a not-so-happy end. Yesterday, I made the heart-breaking choice to return them, unworn. In the end, I decided that no shoes were better than having pretty shoes mock me from inside my closet. Begging me to choose fashion over comfort.

More than giving up my shoe dream, I had to give up my goal of doing a sprint triathlon this summer. All of these teeth complications have just made it too hard to train. Making the call to choose to give my body a break and room to heal has been hard.

Giving up on goals and dreams is not usually my style. But there’s two ways to look at it: defeat or wisdom. I’m trying to go with wisdom. (Hey, if I can’t feel pretty, at least I can feel smart!)

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My way less sexy, but pragmatic shoes.

 

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Swell, I’m Swollen

This is basically what I look like right now. 😉

You would think that someone with RA would know a thing or two about swelling. Swollen joints pretty much comes with the territory. Well, I got my wisdom teeth out on Friday and now, four days later, I can tell you that I still had a lot to learn about swelling.

First off, for all you autoimmune warriors, the logistics of getting your wisdom teeth out are a little more complex than for the average person. My rheumy had me stop all my RA drugs (methotrexate and Enbrel) one week before surgery to limit the chance of infection. Since RA drugs inhibit your immune system, it can lead to slower healing.

I was due to take my methotrexate again post-surgery on Monday, but due to extreme swelling, I decided not to.

At first, the thought of being off my RA drugs scared the crap out of me. What if I have a flare?? It turns out, your body takes awhile to catch up, so you’re usually OK for a couple weeks off your drugs. That being said, I’m going to start Enbrel back up tomorrow, even though I’m not fully healed.

I had to get four impacted (two severely impacted) wisdom teeth removed and the whole thing took a whopping 3.5 hours. Of which, they apparently had trouble keeping me “asleep”. (I blame my red hair.) Apparently I kept waking up and saying “Ow”.

Luckily I remember only one such occasion. I woke up and said, “What’s going on?” or something like that. They told me they were on the last molar and knocked me out again.

Well, the additive effect of 3.5 hours on three different anesthetics meant I spent all of Friday night throwing up and Saturday completely nauseous.

I thought the worst was over, but Saturday night, my face swelled up like a balloon. Silver lining? I now have photographic incentive to stay in shape. 😉

Now my face is still painfully swollen and I am forever grateful that RA does not (normally) effect your jaw.

When I was a kid, my sister used to make fun of my oxygen/prednisone “chipmunk cheeks”. Now I once again get the honor of that nickname. */Joy!*

If anyone has advice to hasten recovery and get the swelling down, I’d love to hear it!!

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