“Who punched you?”

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“Who punched you?”

Ellie Cannizzo

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Surgery is a scary word. People often get nervous when their doctors tell them they need one, even if it is supposed to be a “minor procedure.” At least I know I do, especially when the surgery is in my mouth. I’ve had anxiety about going to the dentist ever since I was little. The orthodontist needed some teeth pulled before he could fix my crooked smile. Well, the people who pulled my teeth cracked them in half before pulling them and traumatized my 9 year old self. 

So, when I found out in April I needed to have surgery on my receding gums, I was beyond nervous. They told me I would be totally okay and I would be able to go back to school right after the procedure. I was pretty okay with it until they mentioned I would be wide awake. Panic attack mode set in, my palms got sweaty and I am pretty sure the dental hygienist could hear my heart pounding. They mentioned laughing gas but it would cost way more money and I didn’t want my mom to pay for my anxiety.

We had put off scheduling my surgery because it was inconvenient and I honestly thought it was unnecessary. My mother finally scheduled it for the early morning of Monday, August 19, 2019. I was kind of just chilling and keeping my worries to myself until the day of. I had to wake up earlier than I would for school. We drove to the east side and sat in the waiting room for what felt like ages but was really only 5 minutes. The hygienist called my name, “are you ready, Ellie?” NO! My heart began beating even harder. The nice lady took me through the maze of hallways, leading me to my room. I sat down and she asked me if I was using a donor’s or my own skin for the graft? Huh?? Someone else’s mouth skin, in my mouth? I told her I would definitely be using my own skin and when she offered the Nitrous (laughing gas) I said yes real quick changing all my past opinions of it. 

I anxiously laid down in the chair and a huge tube was brought up to my mouth and nose. The lady told me to relax and inhale twice. I started feeling loose but still cautious and anxious. I could still feel my hands clenched tightly together and my toes curled into my white leather birks. The nice lady put a washcloth over my eyes and I relaxed even more. The doctor came in and tried to speak to me but all I could respond with were inaudible moans and grunts. They numbed me and started the procedure. I felt nothing and kind of took a nap. Once they were finished another huge tube was put over my face, filling my lungs with clean oxygen, flushing out all of the nitrous. They sat me up and brought my mom to me. She immediately started laughing at me because I was loopy and dazed. The doctor told us I was fine to go to school but would be numb for at least the next 4-6 hours.

Once we got home I could already see the swelling but was determined to make it back to school before our first stuco meeting of the year on the same day. I changed my clothes and headed to scooters for a smoothie to soothe the pain in the roof of my mouth that I already felt. I made it to school before the meeting but quickly realized I probably should’ve stayed home. I couldn’t feel the entire right side of my face, nor could I move it. Every time I talked or smiled I looked so goofy and it gave everyone a good laugh. 

Each day I woke up that week my face had some new swelling or bruising. The black hole in my smile and the dark black eye did a 180 on my self confidence. I am usually not self conscious and am not quick to get emotional but that entire week was full of self doubt and too many mental breakdowns. I did not anticipate such a long and awkward recovery. When I was told I could go to school and drive right after the procedure I downplayed the whole situation in my head. I didn’t expect for my whole face to bruise almost an entire week after the surgery. 

People are so quick to judge people and assume their story when they see something out of the ordinary. If you know me, you know I am the last person you’d ever expect to get in a fight. The black eye just screamed “I just got my booty kicked in the parking lot.” I was tired of the judgemental stares and joking questions asking who had hit me. It didn’t help that I work at a daycare and every parent who came to get their child gave me the most concerned looks as they hurried their kid out of the room.

My lesson to you is to ask more questions when you are told that it’ll be a “minor procedure,” to keep truckin through rough times, and to go into every situation with a light heart. It wasn’t the end of the world, I survived the terrifying word and took some dope selfies as ‘the girl who got in a fight.’ Having the ability to turn a crappy situation into a not so horrible one is so important, find a way to laugh at yourself instead of pushing yourself further down into the dumps.

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