Oral Surgery and Emotional Wounds (Part 1)

Oral Surgery Sucks (and so does heartbreak)

For several years I’ve been monitoring some gum recession in my mouth (a known side effect of orthodontia). Late last year, the issue worsened to the point where I was willing to consult a periodontist. Earlier this month, I had gum graft surgery.

I was nervous going in. The novocaine shots were awful. The procedure itself was nerve-wracking. When it was done, I was left with a wound on the top of my mouth and a bunch of new tissue packed and stitched around my lower front teeth. What followed was not fun.

I was told during my consult that most people feel normal after 10 days. But on Day 5, I was doubting my progress.  My mouth hurt.  My face was swollen.  I had no appetite, and could only eat blended soup (yeah, I had to blend soup!). According to The Internet, I should not have been so miserable.

I hated it, naturally.

I was angry at the dentist who referred me, the doctor who did it, the tech who told me I could go about my life and “eat whatever I want,” the dog and cats who gave me reason to bend over (which hurt) … and I was angry at myself for letting it happen. I felt awful about mutilating my body.

Five days after the procedure, I stared at my swollen face in the mirror, and all I wanted to do was cry. But I couldn’t cry, because crying required me to move my face. And when I moved my face, there was pain.

And then it happened.

Right there in the middle of my pity party, I heard my own voice whisper, “take your own advice.”

It took a second before I remembered something I talk about a lot:

Emotional wounds and physical wounds are a lot alike.

Most of my work is focused on emotional wounds:  acknowledging them, accepting them, assessing them, and then healing them.

But there I was with physical wounds, and I realized I had to do the same thing. I couldn’t go on as if the surgery hadn’t happened. I needed to stop, to breathe, to acknowledge and accept my condition, give my body what it needed, and be patient with myself while I healed.

I knew this, and yet my inner child was screaming, “I don’t want to be patient! I hate this! I want to blame and punish someone! I want the wait to be over already!”

And I realized, with the slight smile I could manage, that this was exactly how I felt as I endured my last breakup:  I wanted the pain to go away.  I wanted to blame someone for my predicament.  I was angry at myself for letting it happen. I compared my journey to others…yada yada yada….

Yeah, emotional wounds and physical wounds are a lot alike.

I knew I couldn’t rush the healing process… “the only way out is through”… I was just going to have to love myself through it.

That afternoon, I reserved a few hours to camp out on the couch and rest my face. It was time to practice what I preach.

…and while that was the right thing to do at the time, the worst was yet to come.  See Part 2 for the rest of the story.

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