Wednesday, December 30, 2009

On Pins and Needles

In less than one week, I will have all of my teeth removed. The procedure will be performed under general anesthesia, so I will go to sleep with a mouthful of broken teeth and awaken with an empty mouth! Once the bleeding stops, I will go home with my new set of dentures in place.

Needless to say, as a very anxious person anyway, I'm already on pins and needles!! I can feel the nervousness now centered in the pit of my stomach. I will be a nervous wreck by next Tuesday morning (surgery day).

However, the thing that has me the most nervous is not what you might think. While I realize that any surgical procedure carries risks, I'm not very nervous at all about the procedure itself -- If it's my time to go, then it's my time to go. No, what has me wound up in a ball of anxiety is the 8 hours prior to the surgery.

As I'm sure most of you know, a patient is not to partake of any food or liquid for the eight hours before surgery. The food part is of no concern to me at all, but the inability to consume liquid is! During my routine waking hours, I drink liquid constantly -- juice, water, tea, milk. More importantly, when I'm nervous, I tend to drink even more.

The chief reason I drink more when I'm nervous is that my mouth tends to go dry and that makes it more difficult for me to swallow. Since I have a swallowing difficulty anyway (one of the weird parts of my fibromyalgia), liquid helps to alleviate the situation. But beginning at midnight on Monday, I won't be allowed to make use of my mitigation strategy, hence my anxiety!!

In addition, I'm a bit anxious about what it will feel like to a) have a toothless mouth and b) wear dentures for the first time. That said, if it weren't for the 8-hour prohibition of food/liquid, I don't think I would be anywhere near as anxious as I am.

All this illustrates is how those of us on the autism spectrum hate to have our routines interrupted. When you get down to it, that's the part that has me discombobulated. I'm used to my set daily patterns and as little as the knowledge that one such pattern will be altered for a few brief hours has me tied up in knots.


  1. I'll be thinking of you. You'll be fine, but I understand your apprehension. I have panic disorder, and I get dry mouth as well (I always have a bottle of water with me). The answer will probably be, "No," but see what they would say about sugarless chewing gum in the 8 hours prior; a mint flavored chewing gum could stimulate saliva, helping with the dry mouth and the swallowing ills.

  2. Don't know if this would be permitted, but maybe a throat drop would help. I have frequent dry mouth as well, and am never without a pack of Ricola cough drops. They do wonders. They also make a new vitamin C supplement drop, without the added menthol.

  3. Here's a perfect opportunity to "be in the moment".
    None of this has happened yet.
    It will not happen until it is happening.
    Blah blah...

    I was thinking, just the other day:
    When was it, that I first heard the old adage about "living in the moment"?
    Whenever it was, and whatever the context, I realize now that I took it on board without question.
    And that's never a good idea.
    Is it really a good idea to "be in the moment"?
    It may well be, but it certainly is something worth a bit of investigation, don't you think?

  4. May this segment of your journey pass quickly and uneventfully.

  5. Mark,
    The gum idea is a good one!! Unfortunately, in my case, it won't work because of all my broken teeth. That said, I will file it away for use under different circumstances.

    Your idea is good too.

    Your advice is good as well. Believe it or not, while I AM a bundle of nerves right now, it used to be much worse. Taoist relaxation has helped somewhat; not as much as I would like, but somewhat. ;)

  6. I don't know why (or maybe I do), but it seems that almost always, what I dread in my imagination turns out to be not as bad in reality. I hope this also is true in your case. I suspect it will be.

    I think our all-too-human minds have a tendency to sort through possibilities and seize upon the extremes: either really good outcomes or really bad outcomes.

    Really real life, though, generally is a mixture of good and bad (assuming those words even apply to really real reality). So I suspect that most of your worries will be less worrisome than you're anticipating.

    Regardless, the best thing about medical/dental procedures is when they are over. Yours will be fairly soon. Hope the work goes well.

  7. Lol :)
    Nice one, Brian.
    But really:
    RT knows it's going to be horrible.
    The important point is:
    It's not horrible yet!

  8. I had to do some lengthy, tedious and annoying dental work a year or so ago and found that breathing techniques were helpful during the process.

    Good luck; dentistry has improved so much over the course of my lifetime. What I used to dread is nothing now. I have been at meeting where I rally wish I was having a root canal (or a colonoscopy) instead.

    It also helps that my dentist is a practicing stage magician (really) and his slieght of hand is really good You never see anything scary.

  9. I had forgotten about this, but the last dental work I had was particularly messy. Slicing into the gum to remove a decaying root from beneath a bridge.
    I asked the dentist for a mirror, and watched the entire opus.
    He was somewhat taken aback, and observed that nobody had ever done that before.
    But I found it very much easier to know what was actually going on, than to let my imagination run wild.

    Afterwards, when I was sure nobody could see me, I quietly fainted :)

  10. I'm going to sound asleep, so the dental surgeons can be as messy as they like...just as long as I'm not conscious. :D

  11. Actually, I find it interesting you are not nervous about the procedure itself. The one time I was under general anaesthesia, that was precisely what I was worried about: a procedure that I would not be aware of, being done to me. The risk of life cessation was remote, but I suppose I would like to be there for it if it should happen...although that's not very rational.

  12. Sorry, probably not the most meet thing to bring up at this point...

  13. CB,
    Not at all. Unlike you, I'd love to go out of this world while unconscious. No long goodbyes. No watching yourself waste away. No struggling to hang onto this life. Just go to sleep and not wake up. Sounds peaceful to me.


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