Say Teeth!

So, here it is. Another surgery experience!

February 14, 2015
5:50 AM

‘Hey Advaith, feeling okay?’ asked Dr. Lakshith Biddappa, the young and charismatic doctor whose confidence knew no bounds and whose dynamism lurked over the skies.

‘I’m good, doctor. Listen, I’ve been having dreams like you operate on only three of my teeth and leave another one out or you operate on one and leave the other three and the cyst out. Doctor, please, take as much time as you want, but do get it all out and save me the trouble of having to go through this ordeal again,’ replied Advaith.

Advaith, the 21-year-old engineering student from Mysore and also a prospective author, was terrified with the idea of being knocked out of his senses. Dreams that he would wander in nothingness for years together and that he would be tossed into a basket case where he would feel the brutal pain involved with surgery, but be incapable of expressing it to the outside world kept haunting him and iterated in unending loops.

IMG_9403‘Don’t worry, Advaith. I’m going to take care of it. Don’t worry about anything. Just relax. Also, I’ve spoken to the anesthetist and he’ll be here soon, okay? No worries at all,’ replied Dr. Six Pack and walked towards the Operation Theater (O.T.).

What if, when I open my eyes, my friends would be standing in front of me, only four years in the future where they would all be returning from work! What if, when I open my eyes, I wont’ be at the hospital, but at home? What if I go into a state of coma? Advaith thought fearfully, as he opened and closed his eyes, slowly and gently. His heart raced, as did the clock, propelling him closer to the time that was set for the operation. With each second forward, his thoughts grew grimmer.

A man in his late 30s, thankfully, waked Advaith from him semi-sleep and reeled him out of his apocalyptic world. The man wore a smile on his face and said, ‘Hello, Advaith. I’m your anesthetist. I have met with your dentist and we have discussed everything. You don’t have to worry about anything. You’ll be perfectly all right. Okay?’

January 5, 2015

After Advaith’s repeated complaints of jaw pain, his mother and he diligently went to a dentist on one of the fine Monday mornings and exhibited to him Advaith’s spectacular set of teeth that were meticulously forged over the past decade at two dental clinics and a hospital.

As the illustrious mother and son sat quietly at a clinic on the first floor of one of Mysore’s busiest of streets, Advaith couldn’t help but recollect all the past, albeit disturbing memories that were associated with the clinic.

Starting from the year 2002, Advaith had easily spent over 100 hours at dental clinics and had undergone a wide range of extractions, fixes and dental surgeries. Advaith remembered each one of those sittings. He recollected how excruciating each extraction was and how gruesome each painful day of recovery was. He remembered the time when a hot-headed doctor had to dig his way towards his nose, grinding through the gums and the bone in order to pull down a tooth, which thanks to the fairy godmother, was lodged all the way up there. He remembered how a doctor had sent his parents out and had him uncaringly yell for help and scream of fright. He recollected the time he stewed at a clinic in Bangalore to get his braces done and he also thought about the times he frequented the clinic to get his wretched braces tinkered.

His parents too had similar irksome memories. Memories of their son screaming and yelling for the dentist to stop, memories of walking up and down the waiting room, memories of tiring post-op care. The long hours of wait before the doctor would see Advaith, the tens of plans cancelled to meet the dentists’ appointments and not to forget, the pot of gold spent for all the treatment.

Both the mother and the son recollected the past, without wanting to do so, as the clock advanced forth. Soon their wait ended and the couple, who were lodged inside the chamber for about a half hour, walked out.

The Smug Dentist was finally ready to see them. Advaith, hesitantly, left his footwear at the doorstep, as was the custom, and walked inside the chamber. ‘Good morning, doctor,’ he said, not really wanting to use the word “good”, and walked towards the chair…the chair, which Advaith felt, was second only to the electric chair used for capital punishments in days of yore.

‘He is complaining of jaw pain, doctor,’ said Advaith’s mother, as she took her seat at the doctor’s table. Advaith saw the oddly shaped tools, the ridiculous looking light on top of his face and the smug face of the dentist, as he saw the doctor mouth the words, ‘Oh! Well, its been a long time since you came down here, Advaith, um, let’s see.’

The doctor picked up his usual set of tools, sat on his round revolving chair, fixed his mask and peered down Advaith’s delta.

February 14, 2015
6:00 AM

Advaith was rolled into the O.T., as his dentist, the doctors who were to assist him and the support staff moved about with the respective tasks.

IMG_9368Advaith, who was weirdly calm, looked around the dimly lit room and saw his dentist mount the x-ray on a scope on the wall. He then turned around and looked at the gigantic lights above him and the tools that were lined up on a table adjacent to him. The sight of those tools always bothered him. He never liked those oddly shaped objects, which he was certain would enter his goddamn mouth.

The anesthetist stole Advaith’s focus from the tools by saying, ‘Advaith, I’m going to inject this to you now. It will burn a little, but it won’t be painful after…’

Advaith was knocked out of his senses before he could even feel the burn.

January 12, 2015

The consultation with the Smug Doctor had necessitated the want of an x-ray and it was learnt that the jaw pain might be a consequence of some misalignment of teeth. So, after a cleft of over four years, Advaith was once again in a dental paradise, so to say.

‘Open your mouth…wider please. Okay. Now hold this tightly…step closer, clasp your feet…right. Okay, now place your upper teeth on this mark…now bite the plate please…perfect. Now, don’t move for a while. Close your eyes…here we go…’

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The X-ray technician gave mundane sets of instructions, which were to Advaith, given his history with dentistry, as pedestrian as the letters of the English alphabets.

An arm of the machine soon moved around Advaith in a circular trajectory, humming a tune that sounded like that of a turbofan engine, only a lot more muffled of course.

‘Okay, Advaith, if you could wait outside at the waiting room, I will…’

February 14, 2015
9:00 AM

Advaith’s parents and grandparents were all at the hospital, waiting eagerly to see him, but none of the hospital staff walked outside the O.T.

The parents began to worry and the grandparents shifted restlessly in their seats. None had consumed any food and they were all growing paranoid. The operation that was supposed to be done within 2.5 hours was taking more time than expected and the fact that no one from the O.T. came outside even once to update them as to what was happening inside kept everyone on the edge of their seats.

January 15, 2015

The Smug Dentist shut the lights out and drew his mask down. He let out a deep sigh and said, ‘Advaith, I’m not going to lie to you, your condition is difficult. I think that God has cursed you.’

What the hell?! Advaith thought and looked at the doctor perplexedly. ‘Doctor?’ he probed, waiting for an explanation to the man’s harebrained statement.

‘Your teeth seem to have been impacted and we might have to remove six of your teeth. Also, there appears to be another complication. The tooth on the lower left side is impacted real deep and is very close to your nerve. It has to be dealt with very carefully because if we don’t get it right, you might lose your lip sensation…’

‘Oh!’ Advaith managed.

‘But let us not jump into any conclusions or discussions now. I want you to go to Bangalore and get a 3D Scan done. You have Internet on your phone, don’t you? Search for CBCT…’

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February 14, 2015
10:30 AM

Advaith opened his eyes after hours of nothingness and looked around. His vision was blurry and all he could see was his doctor, and a clock on the wall. He could hear his doctor telling him that the operation went well and that he was perfectly normal.

Advaith thought he smiled and then he could see a nurse coming towards him. Still thinking that he was smiling, Advaith went back to sleep again.

January 29, 2015

Working on his essay “The Nexus Elites” for the St. Gallen Symposium, Advaith reached Bangalore. He met his mother and grandfather at the railway station and then they all headed towards K. H. Road, where he was scheduled to take a 3D Scan of his teeth/ jaw.

Advaith’s mother, as always, bugged him over the topic of food and Advaith countered her by saying that he didn’t want to get anything stuck in his teeth, and that he would be perfectly all right even if he ate after all the scanning procedures were done.

Such kinds of redundant arguments that oft happen between the mother/son, sometimes with the grandfather weighing in to offer rhetoric or two, continued for quite sometime and soon, thankfully, they were at the spot.

A few ticks hence, as the trio entered the scanning center and introduced themselves, it was learnt that it would take a few days for the report to be complied and that they would send it to Mysore through courier.

So, Advaith’s mother took the from and wrote the address, #288 Lakshmi Vilas Road…

February 14, 2015
11:30 AM

Advaith opened his eyes again, feeling hard to breathe, rather having a little too much air to breathe. He then turned right and saw his aching hand. It appeared to have been bulged. Then, after a lapse of few seconds, he could feel pain shooting right up in his mouth.

Unable to fight the pain, he briefly closed his eyes and opened them again, only this time, there were two nurses shaving hair off his left hand. Advaith blinked a few times and once again went back to sleep.

February 2, 2015

The reports of the 3D Scan arrived at Advaith’s residence and it had some facts and figures that were beyond the comprehension of both Advaith and his parents.

However, it was clearly comprehensible that the teeth were pretty screwed and that fixing it would be a real big deal. Advaith took a few photos of the scan and of the report and sent it to his friends from one of the prestigious medical colleges in Mysore, who had of late become his trusted medical advisors.

IMG_8840 IMG_8838

Each of his friends gave him their opinions and all of it, unfortunately, converged on the possibility of him having to undergo a surgery…a second surgery in less than six months. Advaith was really bummed and upset at hearing the less understandable medical terms like “impaction”, “dentigerous cyst”, “mandibular”, and fluently understandable terms like “surgery”, “nerve damage” and “general anesthesia”.

Sleep that night was a far dream for Advaith. His head kept spiraling around the thought of him having to lose his lip sensation for about 2-3 months, having to forgo on eating a whole range of foods, having to sleep all day and take tens of painkillers and tablets, having to endure all the pain yet another time and having to relive the nightmare of his childhood, only darker and grimmer.

February 14, 2015
12:00 PM

Advaith opened his eyes and looked at a child lying on the adjacent bed at the ICU. The child was crying aloud and it had bandages and tapes on its tiny little hands. Nurses tended to it with utmost care and affection, but Advaith couldn’t help but feel that whatever he was enduring was far better than what the little child and his loved ones had to endure.

As Advaith tried to shift his gaze from the child, he could feel the nurses brushing blood off his mouth and injecting him with something, which he only hoped would reduce the pain. ‘Do you want to go to your ward?’ one of the nurses asked as she tidied his mouth, to which Advaith at once said, ‘Yes’, and fell asleep.

February 3, 2015

Advaith and both his parents went to the Smug Dentist with the scan and heard the news they already knew about, only a shade unpleasant.

‘Doctor, can you tell me when I have to get the teeth extracted?’
‘What will be the prognosis?’
‘Will my nerve really get damaged?’
‘How long should I skip college?’
‘Is the case really rare?’
‘Are you going to operate on me?’
‘Where will the surgery happen?’
‘When can we have the surgery?’
‘How quickly should I get the procedure done?’

For all of Advaith’s questions, the Smug Doctor’s answer was a slap on the face. He told Advaith to wait for another six months and not worry about a thing. He told him to get done with his college and then come back to him. He advocated that ignorance was bliss, and he asked Advaith’s parents to keep the scan reports, the x-ray and all associated documents in a safe and lock it down. Advaith was asked to stop thinking about it and he was again reminded of the fact that this was an effect of God’s curse and that he, God’s next best thing, would do everything in his power to fix it…after six months.

February 14, 2015
12:30 PM

Advaith wasn’t again asked if he wanted to go to the ward, for the fear that he would fall asleep again.

Advaith was moved to a wheelchair and wheeled out of the ICU as briskly as he was brought in, almost seven hours ago. As he was rolled out, Advaith laid eyes on the child that was still in tears and felt as sorry as he did when he had opened his eyes the previous time.

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Advaith, who fancied himself as the Batman, and the Ward Boy entered the elevator. Batman saw his reflection in the mirror for the first time after the surgery and boy, was it pleasant! His face had swollen read bad and he felt as though someone had punched him without all the ferocity a person could conjure.

The elevator soon clinked, as it reached the second floor, and Advaith was rolled out and taken to his ward – Deluxe Ward No. 1, where his parents, grandparents and cousin were all eagerly waiting for him.

February 3, 2015

Advaith came home frustrated. He yelled and howled and demanded to see another doctor without further ado. His parents insisted that the Smug Dentist was one with towering regard and a commendable repute, but they weren’t opposed to the idea of taking a second opinion.

1e6ab5dd54428b40fab97c0df001f624Advaith contacted one of his friends from the medical college and learnt from her the details regarding Dr. Lakshith Biddappa. The Good Doctor’s address was looked up on the Internet at once and between all the arguments and curses at the Smug Doctor, they trio hopped into their car and made their way towards Complete Dentistry.

Ten minutes later, the doctor greeted them and another minute hence, they had an elaborate lesson in dentistry. Dr. Biddappa showed them the locations and the structure of each impacted tooth, the cyst and the nerve region, and explained the theory associated with each entity. He gave out the information associated with every inch of the scan and translated the complex terms in the report to a language that was conveniently comprehensible.

IMG_8841Thence, the Good Doctor went on to explain the surgical process, the prognosis, the alternatives, the precautions to be taken and the aftermath. He advised them to get done with the surgery soon for fear that the cyst might grow in size and might pose a terrible threat. The cyst, which then measured 14mm X 10mm, had already rendered Advaith’s jaw weak and it would, if left unattended for long, grow in volume and cripple his very bone.

The Good Doctor asked Advaith to take extreme care of his jaw and told him that even if he were to land a less aggressive punch to the face, his jaw would get fractured and that would lead to grave consequences.

Dr. Biddappa, however, seemed really confident about everything that he spoke. He told that Advaith’s case wasn’t really a rarity and that it wasn’t really a big deal.

So, however bad the news, the doctor’s final remarks had a positive ring to it and it blew away all the animosity and the weight of fright hanging over the Advaith family. Happy, the family went to Jwala and enjoyed a nice dinner before heading back to their humble abode.

Advaith spent the next five days completely immersed in ||shabd|| work, not worrying a thing about his surgery. All that was on his mind was “||shabd|| 2015” and the prospect of making it the best ever Literary Fest in history.

February 15, 2015

The Indo-Pak match was on, as Advaith recovered from his surgery and was all ready to get discharged.

His friends, who had left for a trek the night before, called him on his phone and enquired about his pain and the details regarding the “release” from the hospital.

Advaith told them that his face was swollen, his lips were numb, there were bad wounds at the edges of his mouth and his neck was hurting like hell. Three of the nine trekkers who had seen him the day before could picture the scene vividly; the others imagined what best they could.

The talk was brief, but it shunned Advaith into a world of thoughts.

When will all this pain reduce?
When will I be able to open my mouth properly?
When can I get to eat the food I want?
When will I talk properly again?
When will I feel my lips?
When can I go trekking?
When can I ride my bike?
When can I go to the college?

… 

Surgery truly isn’t the hardest part, at least to the person undergoing it. What comes next – the long nights of pain, days that won’t end, evenings that amplify the misery, the pile of tablets, the acrid drowsiness, loss of appetite, disconnect with the outside world and the feeling that something isn’t quite right – is the hardest.

One of Advaith’s friends asked him on the third day after surgery, ‘Are you feeling better today?’

Advaith said plainly, ‘The pain hasn’t reduced, but knowing that I’m inching closer to the day that that will happen makes me feel better. Each sundown brings me closer to the day I completely recover. And each day down is a day won.’

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Thank you for reading!

1 thought on “Say Teeth!

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