BOOM! I walk into the oral surgeon's on time for the extraction of my wisdom teeth. BOOM, BOOM. Everything says BOOM because I have had a migraine for three days already and was throwing up the day before. Light switch BOOM. Shoe scuff BOOM. Metal instrument on pan BOOM. How are you, they ask, all politeness, looking elsewhere, fiddling with things. Fine, I say.
Pull up your sleeve, they say. We are going to start an IV. Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit. An IV. Fasting. I have no veins, kind lady. You will find on inspection that I simply have no veins. I do not wish to disappoint or inconvenience you. I am merely bloodless and cold. I am not a mammal. No veins. It will be fine, they assure. Certainly it will be fine. We are professionals, obviously. Start the nitrous. Stick. Poke. Squeeze your hand. Keep squeezing. Objects are going funny. Am I supposed to be awake? Is this Wonderland? I am cooperating. Cooperating means I squeeze. My blood, there is none. Four sticks. Your wife, says the doctor to Mike, has very small veins. She has very little body fat. They are hiding in the muscle. He has faith in them, though, these veins. They are in there, like tiny bits of soul wound through my flesh.
One more stick, he says, and if I can't make it work, he says, we will do this with the nitrous only. He nods. I nod. Consciousness bounces about the room like balloons. I am cooperating. I squeeze. Shut your eyes, I tell myself. Close your eyes and let that needle in. Let it into your vein. I imagine blood gushing forth to meet it. It presses. There is an ache. I'm in, he says. Then blackness.
Can you get up? Are you dizzy? Can you walk? No. Lie back down. Take more oxygen. Try again. Can you get up? Can you get up? Hold the wall. Sit here. Have a blanket. My husband appears solid out of thought, manifests out of a question unvoiced about his whereabouts.
Her upper jaw was supposed to spongy and soft, says the doctor. But it was made of granite. This surgery therefore was a ten on a scale of one to ten. We chiseled. We yanked. We cut. We grabbed. It will hurt. Take care of her. Special jaw, special veins. Uncooperative body parts. Should I still be squeezing? Ice now. Rest. No more need to squeeze.
At home, I cannot feel my mouth. How does one drink? Oatmeal is too textured, too rough. My hair is a wreck. Bloody gauze comes out, fresh gauze goes in. New pills appear. I sleep. What can I eat? My insides are on fire. I think I still need to eat, yes? How shall I get it in? The next day it occurs to me: Refried beans. I can eat these. Moving my jaw is difficult, like drawing with a cast. Somehow the beans get in. This is satisfactory. I am taking hydrocodone, it turns out. Isn't that what Rush Limbaugh took, my friend asks. Yes, and I think that's why my face is swollen. Perhaps I am also lilting right, spewing vitriole. I clean my mouth with salt water, in the hopes of expunging Rush. He comes out in tiny little fragments every time I rinse. I must be careful to get all of him.
Today I try with only ibuprofen. The pain is rather profound. Distracting, it is. I think I shall spin circles chasing my heels until I collapse in the ecstasy of centrifugal force. That'll shut out the dull, piercing ice pick to each cheekbone. I get up my Google Calendar. I will now Do Something Important. Spin, spin, spin. I call my friend Amy. Spin, spin, spin again. At noon, administer more refried beans, gargle salt water and repeat the exorcism of Rush. Perhaps I can write. Yes, but nothing leaks onto my page but the detritus from the inner spaces between each tooth; bitter-tasting, pinched and worked-over globs of unwanted waste.
I think, I will share it with them anyway. Because I'm big that way. I like to share. I will hand you whatever is in the dirtied-up napkin on the side of my plate, so you can have a bit. I am not selfish. I will give you what I've got. This is what I've got. Send a self-addressed stamped envelope and I will include a bit of bloody gauze.