12 Cheshvan 5782 / Monday, October 18, 2021 | Torah Reading: Vayeira
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Wisdom Teeth

Yep, right there waiting for surgery in a freezing room and a chair that could have been carved from stone, I slept as peaceful as could be, thanks to emuna…


I sit here today, 5 days post-surgery, and I can tell you the lessons of my wisdom teeth experience have been many – let me share a bit.


When I was preparing for this surgery, notifying people I would be unavailable, I was met with two basic responses: “You haven’t had your wisdom teeth out yet, at your age?!” and “Ouch”.


Well the answer to that is pretty simple – I haven’t needed them out until about 8 years ago or so when my dentist said this should be done for good oral health. In I went and had the left side taken out… and I spent the next week sleeping on the couch with an icepack on my face, my jaw packed with gauze, hydrocodone in my system, and eating mashed potatoes. I was miserable! And I was determined to not go through that again.  Probably goes without saying, this was before learning about emuna. I was just suffering and hoped to keep the pain under control enough to just sleep through the situation.


Fast forward to this spring’s dental checkup and my dentist informs me that having the right side out is no longer a “should” but a “must”.  Pre-op was scheduled and I was informed, due to my age, that it would not be a routine extraction as the facial nerves were too close and I could have permanent paralysis.


I went into the procedure with mixed emotions – on one hand I had my emuna and time spent in hitbodedut (personal prayer). On the other hand I had my previous experiences with very uncomfortable physical memories right at the tip of my mind for recalling whenever I seemed to feel too confident. Sitting in the waiting room I marveled at the fact my body can be still while my insides are running a marathon.


Hashem, in His infinite kindness, gave me exactly what I needed at that moment – time to get myself together! Even though I had an early appointment the doctors were still running late. After extra time in the waiting room I was called back to the surgery room. Laid back in an uncomfortable chair with the air conditioning blasting I was gowned, strapped down and left alone….. for a long time. Due to my position in the chair I had nothing much to look at but the fluorescent lights overhead, some sort of western artwork or an xray of my head from a variety of angles.


Laying there I was nervous. I tensed at every sound in the hall, expecting the rush of the crew to descend upon the room and start the procedure.


It didn’t come.


“Ok Hashem,” I pondered “you’re trying to teach me something here.” I realized I was not living my emuna… here was a chance. So I prayed and shivered and shifted in that uncomfortable chair and stared at my xray and prayed and prayed and prayed and thanked Hashem for every possible aspect of the situation that I could recall then, I slept. Yep, right there waiting for surgery in a freezing room and a chair that could have been carved from stone, I slept as peaceful as could be. I woke up sometime later and a nurse came in, somewhat shocked and very apologetic that I had been left there like that in the cold with no updates. She covered me with a blanket and informed me I had been laying there for over an hour. Then she left.


I assumed she would be right back. She wasn’t. I had an option – I could remain in this relaxed, calm place or I could return to the negative, nervous thoughts. I chose the first option and soon the rush of professionals filled the room. I spied a clock amidst the bustle – the procedure was starting almost 2 hours to the minute late …. I smiled and thanked Hashem for the opportunity to go into the procedure in the right frame of mind and emotion with a solid hour or more of hitbodedut done for the day.


Thanks to Hashem, the procedure was successful and I felt great afterwards… right up until bedtime when fears of waking up in pain caused me to take hydrocodone, even though I wasn’t in pain at the time. The next morning I awoke and felt fantastic! And then the sickness hit – Hashem was helping me once again with a very clear lesson and strengthening of my emuna. I had a bad reaction to the pain medication – my body violently rejecting the toxins that it did not need.


The experience was surreal – I was out of control of my body and its functions, yet my mind was clear. I could hear myself moaning but I couldn’t stop it. It was an opportunity to be fearful or I could engage my emuna and call out to Hashem. So while my body went through various physical fits I was able to search for the message.


Scanning my body I was amazed – my jaw did not hurt hardly at all. Hashem had answered my prayers for a successful procedure and a smooth recovery… I had messed that up by not trusting, by not engaging and living my emuna, by reaching for nature – something that “should” have worked by the natural law of things – to comfort me (when I didn’t even need comforting!) instead of calling out to Hashem.


Hmmm…. Seems like I just read this in Garden of Healing the night before my surgery. I had the awareness that if I had even just said a prayer before taking the medicine… acknowledging that it is Hashem that allows the medicine to work, I wouldn’t be reacting to it. I laughed… in my head, because well, you know, my body was otherwise occupied with extracting the poison from my system. Hashem was giving me proof, in the moment!, that He is in control – of every event, of every outcome, of which medicines will work, of which ones won’t, and most of all… that He is always wanting us to call out to Him first and foremost.


Thanks to Hashem I am well on the mend from the ordeal. My jaw is healing very well and has yet to cause much more than minor irritation. I’m healing from the toxic reaction as well. I’m most grateful to Hashem for always reaching out, always sending messages, always providing opportunities to learn … May we continue to search for and learn the lessons!



* * *

Jennifer invites you to participate in a regularly held Noahide on-line study group that reviews the garden series books of Rabbi Arush. You can contact her at jenniferjwoodward@gmail.com for dates and times.

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