Monday, July 11, 2011

Ice, ice baby, ice

"I didn't want to be an actress. I wanted to be a dentist, but you never know what life will bring you." Sofia Vergara 

PAUL HAD a root canal last month that he'd been putting off. To say I'm not good with anything medical is an understatement. I'll spare you the evidence; just believe me when I say that I'm really, really not good at it. 

The only way I can tell if Paul has cut himself or sustained some other wound is that he walks quickly out of the room to prevent me from seeing. There's a certain way he does it, though, maybe it's the speed and directness, but I can always tell — whereupon I say, "You've cut yourself haven't you," which unfortunately sounds more like an accusation than an expression of wifely concern.

Early on in our marriage he once said, "Okay, so just for my own peace of mind, if something really bloody and awful ever happened to me, you would try to do something, right?" Now there's a yardstick for measuring my lack of Clara Barton-ness.

I offered to drive Paul to the clinic for his root canal and be there to drive him home, but he said it wasn't necessary. Thankfully, it went really well and except for a headache later in the day, it was painless.

The whole dental surgery thing reminded us both of the time some years back when Paul had his first visit to the oral surgeon and had four wisdom teeth and another tooth pulled all at the same time. Knowing how bad I am in these situations, for days prior to Paul's appointment, I had been psyching myself up so that I might be resolute, stalwart and 100% the best caregiver possible.

I drove Paul to his appointment and waited while he was being worked on. When he was ready to go home, the nurse told me that he was conscious, but sedated. As we were leaving the clinic, I was handed his prescriptions for antibiotics and painkillers and told what to do for him; I was in a sort of dizzy blur, but I managed to focus just enough to memorize the words pain killers, ice, antibiotics. Pain killers, ice, antibiotics, pain killers, ice, antibiotics, pain killers, ice, antibiotics.

When I got Paul in the car, I had my first opportunity to really take stock of him. He was definitely not cognizant of his surroundings, his face — full of Novocain — drooped and sagged, and with his mouth distorted and full of gauze, he looked like he'd been worked over by Mike Tyson. Tears welled up in my eyes and began to run; so there we were, the two of us driving along — him with head lolling, eyes unfocused, drooling and bleeding, and me sobbing all the way home.

I got him home, put him to bed, put ice on his face, got the pills into him, and for the next three days I kept him on ice, pain killers and antibiotics 24/7. I was relentless; I was Nurse Ratched; I adhered strictly to the pain med/antibiotic schedule, waking him up if necessary to make sure the pills went down exactly on time, refilling the ice bag anytime it threatened to be less than freezing and putting it back on his face anytime it slid off day or night.

When Paul went back to the dentist to be checked, the oral surgeon was astounded. He said he'd never seen anyone have that much oral surgery with no bruising or residual swelling. Paul said, "Well, my wife kept ice on my face continuously since I had it done." "What?" said the doctor. "You were only supposed to be iced on and off for the first 12 hours. Well, I guess whatever she did worked. A little frostbite maybe, but definitely no swelling or bruising."

No wonder he didn't want me to take him to get his root canal.

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  1. HaHaHa! Oh dear! Bless your heart for trying so hard! I promise not to call you when I am injured. Or to post pictures of the wounds. :-D Thanks for my first laugh of the day.

  2. HaHaHa! Oh dear! Bless your heart for trying so hard! I promise not to call you when I am injured. Or to post pictures of the wounds. :-D Thanks for my first laugh of the day.