They say that it won’t be so bad…They say that the pain is only temporary…They say it will all be over soon. It’s not what they say, it’s what they don’t say. They don’t say that the first 8-10 hours your lips will feel inflated, as if a hose full of helium was hooked up to your lower lip. They don’t tell you that for the next 4-5 days you’ll be so swollen that smiling causes physical pain. They don’t tell you that it in fact will not be over soon. What they should tell you is that you’re in for ride, so buckle up, hold on tight, and make sure you have a comfortable place to sit.
Day 1: After returning home from the doctor’s office I plopped myself onto the couch with pillow on one side and a blanket on the other. My face was a swollen as cartoon characters hand after hitting it with a mallet. I was unrecognizable. The lower section of my mouth was number than a frostbitten foot. My mom tried to give me water and I couldn’t even keep it in my mouth. I had no appetite, no energy, and yet, no pain. We changed the soggy gauze every hour to make sure they were doing their job. I ate a balanced diet of pudding that day. And looked in the mirror as little as possible. I went to sleep with frozen peas wrapped to my face. Oh, what a night.
Day 2: Waking up at 4:00 am was just the beginning of my brutal day. Trying to find something good to watch at 4:00 in the morning is like trying to make a three-year-old eat broccoli. It was impossible to choose between the Nutri-bullet and the Blankie Tails infomercials. After a half an hour of surfing I finally found re-runs of America’s Next Top Model, Tyra Banks to the rescue! Two hours went by, “Congratulations Nicole, you are still in the running towards becoming America’s next top model”, I could say the words before they even came out of Tyra’s mouth. Girl after girl, dreams were crushed and wishes were granted all at the same time. Once the sun came up it was back to putting peas on my face and drifting in and out of la la land. I was so exhausted, but from nothing. I was so hungry, but one girl can only eat so much vanilla pudding before wanting to the other 26 teeth out. I sat and I sat and I sat, until I finally couldn’t watch Tyra take away the chance of becoming America’s next top model from another 19-year-old girl. Here I was, 21 and blown up like a balloon, while 19-year-old girls chase their dreams of being international superstars. So I changed the channel and found serendipity in watching 4 contestants with 4 mystery ingredients, AKA chopped. I sat for the next 8 hours, napped, ate apple sauce, napped, moaned in pain, took 9 Advil, and finally called it a night.
Day 3: This day was perhaps the worst day of them all. Christmas Eve is supposed to be filled with love and joy, family and Eggnog. Instead it was filled with Advil, Jell-O and frozen peas. Not really your typical X-mas Eve. I brought my Advil in a Ziploc baggie to the movie theater where I proceeded to pass out, mouth wide open in a theater full of strangers. As stereotypical as it is we went to a Chinese restaurant for dinner as the Jews do. I enjoyed wanton broth and hot tea, how nutritious! The swelling had stayed the same and on top of that a bruise had developed on the lower left side of my face. Making me look like one of Rocky’s unworthy opponents. The bruise persisted for 6 days after that.
These three days were by far the worst days of my life. More painful that getting an F on my linguistics exam sophomore year. More painful than being told I was unmemorable. And way more painful than the TV falling on my head. Through the swelling, bruising, bleeding and pill (Advil, no prescription medication was taken) popping I made it. I have reunited with tortilla chips, celery and tacos; been reintroduced to straws; and realized how grateful I am that it no longer hurts to smile. The bright side of this whole situation is that I will never have to get them removed again. One and done. And while I looked horrific, felt like crap, and was definitely malnourished, I’m here to live another wisdomless day.