I know what it takes to turn a human into a zombie. I’m speaking from experience because I was dangerously close to being “patient zero.” All it takes is a mix of laughing gas, novocaine, and getting your wisdom teeth drilled out of your jaw, and you’ll be drooling blood in a Walgreens parking lot in no time!
Way back in ’93, when I was in high school, my stupid wisdom teeth decided to impact themselves under my current molars. When this happens, there really is only one option for a dentist. They have to drill into your mouth under or above your current teeth to break apart the wisdom teeth, and then pull the shards out of the holes that were just drilled.
My mother, a former teacher, made sure that this appointment occurred during winter break, so I didn’t miss any school. She’s a thoughtful one. I strolled into the dentist’s office on New Year’s Eve because I shouldn’t miss school when I can miss out on festive celebrations.
We arrived at the office and for the only time in my life, I was whisked into the dentist’s office immediately. There was no wait once I sat in the dreaded dentist’s chair either. First, they hit me with the laughing gas. Dazed, but not totally disorientated, they went ahead with the novocaine injections into all four sides of the back of my mouth. After my mouth was sufficiently numb, it was time to work.
I don’t really remember that much of the surgery except for the fact that I could feel warm blood pooling in the back of my throat. In my drug induced state I also thought I smelled something burning when they drilled into my teeth. That could be wrong. Maybe the dentist or dental hygienist was on a smoke break before it was time to work on me. I know the laughing gas had some effect on my cognitive abilities. I had my eyes closed during the procedure and to keep my mind occupied, I tried to count how many people were in the room by the tone of their voice. I got up to three when I had a revelation. Hey, I have eyes. I can open them and see how many people are in here.
After who knows how much time, they stuffed some cotton balls in my mouth and sent me on my way. My only instructions were to keep biting down on the cotton balls, and don’t spit. I know there’s plenty of salty jokes I could work in this story right about now, but I’ll just move on…
On the way back home, my mother stopped at Walgreens to pick up some pain killers. I was glad she decided to stop right away, because the novocaine was wearing off. As I sat in the car, waiting for my mother to return, I could feel my pulse in my jaw, but what was even worse was, the cotton balls were saturated with blood and saliva. The blood started to leak into my mouth. I remembered that I wasn’t supposed to spit, but swallowing the pool of blood that was rising above my tongue was not an ideal solution.
I was left with only one option to rid myself of the rising tide of bloody saliva. I stepped out of the car, walked between two mini vans, to give myself some cover, and scanned the area for any pedestrians. Then, I leaned my head over and let the blood and spit drool out of my mouth. The deep red viscous substance oozed onto the frozen concrete. It took so long for all the blood to fall out that I didn’t notice a couple approach. Before I could shut my mouth and turn away, they saw me.
Pale white face, glazed eyes, hunched over body, with a stream of blood pouring out of my mouth, I looked like the undead. Thankfully, they didn’t scream.