The Nightmare Before Christmas


My absolute worst Christmas memory is of finding myself in the mall – the BIG mall – within about two days of Christmas.  I bet I tainted that Christmas for everyone in the family, too.  Considering the drugs I was on, it’s amazing that I even remember this, but that just proves how terrible it was.

... but less happy

Drugs, you ask?  Rewind a bit.  A few days before the start of the Christmas holidays that year, I got my wisdom teeth removed.  Rewind a few weeks from that day, and I was sitting in a surgical dentists’ office downtown listening to the man describe in excruciating detail just what he’d be doing in my mouth (I also had a cyst in the front of my mouth to remove.  Let’s just say getting that out would require… peeling…).  I spent the rest of the day trying not to vomit.  I have far too vivid an imagination.  The dental surgeon, in his explanation of the procedure, told me that I would be awake and just numbed throughout the process.  The process that involved… peeling

I decided that one of us would be unconscious before the procedure started, and he could choose which, but if he chose wrong, then I wouldn’t be getting my wisdom teeth out that day… and he might have a concussion.

Part of the problem with the drugs necessary to knock you out is that they do mean that you take longer to recover.  I don’t handle drugs well.  As an example, the last time I took the full ‘adult dosage’ of cough syrup, I told my university roommates that I couldn’t feel my feet.  They considered taking me to the doctor.

Surgery:  “Ten…nine… … … … … …ech…se’en… oh… woo dong?” (translation: “you’re done?”) the rest of the day, I was pretty out of it.  It required both my parents to manoeuvre me down three flights of stairs to the car.

Then they gave me Tylenol 3 – with codeine!  I was strung out the entire time I was taking them.  The other pill they gave me was an anti-infection pill that was required to be taken with food.  That caused my stomach to empty every time, and left me unable to eat again for another 6 hours or so, at which time (you guessed it!) I needed to take the anti-infection pill again.

Most of the week leading up to Christmas, I was a vegetable.  I watched “Bend it Like Beckham” on repeat for about two days, according to my family.  They just kept coming in and restarting it when the credits rolled.  A few months later, I saw the movie for what I thought was the ‘first time’.

When I was finally holding food down, and capable of dressing myself, I found myself at the mall with my mom and sisters.  I have no idea why – this would not be something my mom would ever choose to do, if she had a choice – but we were at the mall.  Less than two days before Christmas.

I yam what I yam... and I YAM HUNGRY

By this point, my stomach had shrunk to the point that, while I could eat, it would be something like ‘a piece of bread’, and then I was full.  But not for long, and when I wasn’t full, I was empty.  Gut-wrenchingly cramping, clawing, ravenously HUNGRY.  So I found myself in the hell that is ‘Malls at Christmas’, kind of high (not high enough), highly emotional (yes, my stomach does control my mood), Popeye-faced from swelling and easily exhausted.

The mall was packed with people reeking of desperation and sweat.  The lights were too strong, the heat overwhelming, the sales clerks too aggressively seeking sales, the tinny peppy Christmas music was loud and discordant in my ears.

oooh, this! Grandma will Love it!

I might have cried.  I don’t remember.  I wish the memory were just a nightmare.

I couldn’t even eat most Christmas foods– I dropped about 15 lbs (in the least healthy way possible) over the holidays that year.  And I still hate the mall, especially at Christmas time.  I do all of my shopping online or well in advance of November.  That way, it’s still thoughtful, but not blood- and tear-spattered.

Worst. Christmas. Ever.

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9 Comments

  1. Ugh…sounds like no fun. I got knocked out when I got my wisdom teeth out too. There was NO WAY I was going to watch that guy stomp on my chest and jerk my head around by a tooth with a pair of pliers!

    • some of the surgeries you have the option of staying awake for… it terrifies me. You can get a knee replacement surgery, and just have a local anaesthetic and a relaxing-type-medication… and be fully conscious throughout! I’d rather take longer to recover and not have nightmares about surgery, by being unconscious!

  2. I once had a wisdom tooth pulled with just novicaine, but the tooth was so rotted I probably could have pulled it myself and saved the $400 bill.

    Thankfully this is behind you now and your Christmas’ going forward will be remembered and appreciated. 🙂

    • that sounds terrible and traumatic… it must have been quite a pain before it was pulled!

  3. That does sound like a nightmare. I cannot take codeine. Not only does it make me out of it, but I become very nauseous. Like not able to pick my head up off the pillow sick.

    Malls at any time of year are not my fav. Hope you have a nice Christmas this year!

    • It might very well have added to the nausea the ‘take with food’ pill was giving me, but since that’s the only time i’ve had tylenol with codeine, I’m not sure. It’s definitely not a ‘good high’, though, that’s for sure.
      Hope your Christmas is great too!

  4. Two doa y BEFORE Christmas? That IS cruising the edge of the Void!
    Great post!

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