The World According to Renee

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Wisdom Teeth: A Journey

I’m taking a different path today because when I went looking for information, there was little available, so I hope this is beneficial for people about to undergo similar treatment. Usual disclaimers apply: everyone’s different and so are treatment costs. This is just my experience and yours will probably differ, but it’s a guide anyway.

I have private health insurance with Medibank Private: My Options cover. It covers unlimited dental plus costs associated with having wisdom teeth removed (this is the reason I went with this level of cover).

I needed three teeth out; the upper and lower on the right side and the upper on the left. Apparently I didn’t have a fourth one. I was referred to a dental surgeon, Dr Barbara Woodhouse, and had to have full mouth and jaw X-rays before the consultation. The cost of the X-rays was fully covered by Medicare.

Once the appointment with Dr Woodhouse had been made, I was sent some standard medical forms to complete. What my general health was like, what (if any) operations I’ve had previously etc. Sent back with X-rays prior to appointment.

The consultation was $130, of which about $75 was claimable on Medicare. We went through what Dr Woodhouse would be doing and if I wanted the general anaesthetic or a local. I chose the GA- if I’m having three teeth pulled, I don’t want to be awake! (Dr Woodhouse told me later that these surgeries are normally done under local, but she respected my decision to choose a GA).

I chose a convenient date for the surgery: the consultation was mid November and as I work in retail, having it done before Christmas wasn’t an option so the surgery was scheduled for mid January. If I’d had the money and time, I could have been scheduled the following week.

Day of Surgery

I had to fast for 8 hours prior to the surgery as the GA can cause nausea and they really don’t want you to vomit while you’re unconscious (plus a whole bunch of other reasons). I had it done in the local private hospital- my health insurance completely covered the hospital costs (check with your hospital and policy). My hands were prepared with numbing cream so I wouldn’t feel the needles (I have no fear of needles and was told later that they’d mixed me up with the patient who was supposed to be before me; they had a fear of needles). I changed into the hospital gown, lay on a bed and met my anesthetist. She made sure I understood what was going to happen and I gave her the completed consent form. I was wheeled into theatre and my surgeon told me to think happy thoughts. Then, I was asleep.

I woke up about an hour and a half later, in extreme pain on the upper left. The nurses gave me strong painkillers and the pain subsided. Dr Woodhouse came in, the nurses informed her that I’d needed painkillers. The first thing she said to me was, “We had complications. You’re going to be in more pain than the average person.”

The tooth on the upper left had grown into the sinus cavity, which hadn’t shown on the X-rays. So the tooth had been extracted and the sinus repaired, which is why it hurt so frigging much. The nurses called my boyfriend, gave him a list of things to get from the chemist, sent him on his way and gave me a can of lemonade. I had ice packed around my jaw but the painkillers had kicked in so it didn’t actually hurt.

When my boyfriend returned, I was allowed to go home. I was a bit wobbly, but OK. Because of the sinus issue, I wasn’t allowed to sleep lying down so I propped myself up on the lounge and awkwardly slept there for the next two weeks.

The Next Day

I took Nurofen as prescribed but I didn’t actually feel any pain. I also had codeine as a backup but I never needed it. My face was very swollen and I couldn’t open my mouth. I bought some baby food, potatoes, eggs and chocolate custard (no way was I going without chocolate!) For that week, I lived on mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs and chocolate custard (having decided I didn’t like the baby food).

Then the complications started- my nose started bleeding from the sinus surgery. I rang my surgeon, who gave me instructions on how to stop the bleeding. Late that night, another bad bleed and I rang her (she was super nice and didn’t mind at all that I’d called her at 11pm). She told me to come and see her in the morning.

At her surgery, I drank more lemonade (everyone seemed in agreement that lemonade was the best beverage to drink at such a time, and who am I to argue?) and she checked on my every half hour or so. I had stitches which were holding up but there was some “leakage” down my throat from the sinus. Eww.


Due to the problem with my sinus, I wasn’t allowed to:

  • lie down
  • lift anything
  • bend forward
  • eat or drink anything hot
  • stifle a sneeze (and preferably avoid sneezing, but if I had to, let the sneeze happen)
  • blow my nose

One Week After Surgery

I went back to work. I’d had no pain, the swelling had almost subsided, the bruising was now a very attractive yellow and I had begun to eat real food… chopped into very small pieces as I couldn’t open my mouth more than half a centimetre.

I got the bill from the anaethetist. She had already deducted the amount covered by Medicare (nothing was covered by health insurance) and I was able to pay the remainder (about $250) by B-pay. I also got the bill from Dr Woodhouse. The total bill came to $1430, $100 more than quoted due to complications from my sinus. I had to pay the whole amount up front and then claim on insurance. I got about $500 back from insurance.

Two Weeks After Surgery

Swelling and bruising minimal. Still couldn’t open my mouth more than a centimetre. Time for my follow-up visit to Dr Woodhouse. Everything was healing well and she gave me some exercises to help my jaws open. The exercises hurt like hell but I did them… for a while. It was too painful. I devised my own methods instead but found that yawning was the best stretch I could do, and it didn’t hurt (much).

Dr Woodhouse told me she was very glad I’d chosen the GA as I “wouldn’t have been able to handle it” had it been done under local. My case had been “indelibly etched” into her memory.

The stitches had completely dissolved by the end of the second week.

Four Weeks After Surgery

I was still chopping my food into very small pieces, but I was eating real food. Anything I could fit into my mouth, in fact (keep your dirty minds to yourselves!) I could open my mouth enough to fit two fingers in.

Six Weeks After Surgery

Another check up with the surgeon. All these follow up visits were included in the original cost and I didn’t have to pay anything further. I could now open my mouth about three fingers wide and had my first burger since Christmas. I was very excited 🙂 This was my last visit to Dr Woodhouse- she was pleased with the progress and I didn’t need to see her anymore 🙂 She sent the final report to my dentist, and had written in it that my case was the worst she’d ever seen.

The left side of my face, to me, still looks a bit fatter than the right side, but I seem to be the only one who notices. Everyone else thinks I’m back to normal. I have scars on the inside of my cheeks but they don’t interfere with anything. I’ve also lost feeling on the top left gum, and roof of my mouth on the left side. This is normal (obviously, she cut through the nerves to repair the sinus) and feeling will slowly return. As I write this, it’s 11 weeks since the surgery. I don’t have much feeling, can’t feel hot or cold or brushing my teeth, for example. It feels like I have something stuck to the roof of my mouth. It’s weird but I can live with it. My main priority was being able to open my mouth again. It took six weeks, but it happened.


March 27, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 1 Comment

Review: Oz, The Great and Powerful

Welcome back to Oz. A stranger is swept into a tornado, lands in a weird little land of bad acting and poor plot and has to do away with a wicked witch (but not kill her because that would spoil Dorothy’s future fun).

This film has none of the charm of The Wizard of Oz and very limited resemblance too. There’s still a magical poppy field and the Emerald City (which looked quite crap, by the way) and people from Kansas in Oz, but that’s about it. Disappointment #1.

The film begins in black and white, obviously part homage to the original film and also to Kansas being dead boring. I missed the sepia tones of the original film, but really, there’s very little that could have saved this mess. The opening story is very weak. We have a conman (surely no surprise to anyone who has seen the original film) and a womaniser who brings his “charm” to the witches of Oz. If you do bother to see this film, BYO charm. This is an Oscar-nominated actor doing his darndest to move things along in the same way castor oil attempts to dislodge constipation, but with much less success. Disappointment #2.

Truthfully, there’s so many disappointing elements to this film that I’d be here all night listing them. There is a very weak plot of a prophecy, something about who is really the wicked witch and an army of Oz people who aren’t allowed to hurt anyone. Aww. Suffice to say, this is really only a film worth watching if you are chained to a dungeon wall with matchsticks forcing your eyelids open.

1 out of 5 popcorns for the visual effects.

March 8, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Review: Wreck-It Ralph

This review contains spoilers. Read on at your own risk.

Poor Ralph. He’s a big guy whose job is to wreck buildings so Fix-It Felix can rebuild it and win all the praise (along with a medal). Ralph feels that after 30 years, he’d like to be a good guy so he heads off to another game in order to win his own medal and gain sought-after praise from his own game-mates.

Firstly, let me say that this film is really well done. The gaming world of the characters is flawless. There are so many references to real-life games and products (I’m not sure if this is marketing or just for fun) that the film seems like it really is taking place when the arcade closes. The shaky movements of some characters are a bit startling but that’s just how they move within the game. Why Ralph & co move smoothly and others don’t, I don’t know. I also read that Ralph was supposed to be animated in 8 bit but that would take away his loveability. Fair enough call, plus it would be very difficult to watch 8 bit characters on screen for any length of time. Fix-It Felix’s house is decorated in 8 bit though, which is a nice touch.

Secondly, I absolutely LOVE that one character, King Candy, is visually and audibly based on Ed Wynn. Ed Wynn represents classic Disney and makes a very welcome “return”. I was surprised to learn King Candy is voiced by Alan Tudyk, whom I know best from Firefly. What I didn’t love is that he served as the evil character. I understand the plot point, but Ed’s characters were always funny, lovable and inherently good. Crazy and madcap, but good.

The story was also very good. After the first half hour or so, I was wondering where else it could go… and it went in a different direction. This is a Good Thing because films shouldn’t be predictable (unless based on a true story, in which case, the ending is usually fairly obvious from the start). I loved the references to Super Mario Kart, because that’s the only video game I was ever really good at. The writers are clearly gamers and it shows with the level of detail in the gaming scenes.

The film is directed by Rich Moore, whom I know from his work on The Simpsons. A supervising director on this film was Jim Reardon, also known for his work on The Simpsons. Pleasantly surprised by this addition to their body of work.

Overall, this is a really good film. Some of the technical things about coding were a bit confusing; I wonder how much of that sort of thing kids really know about these days? Wreck-It Ralph has become a new favourite.

9 out of 10 popcorns.


March 2, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment