The week before my freshman year of college, I had four impacted wisdom teeth removed. There was some pain and swelling, but after a day or two, I felt fine. The night before classes began, I went out and had a blast at a frat party, as incoming freshmen are wont to do.

When I woke up the next morning, my head was throbbing more than the average hangover would have warranted, and my skin felt tight. I was floored to discover that my face was swollen to several times its normal size. Apparently I'd gotten food trapped in a hole where a wisdom tooth had once resided, and infection had set in. Why all the alcohol I consumed didn't kill the bacteria remains a medical mystery.

I trudged off to my very first college class looking nothing like the person everyone had met the day before. And to make matters worse, the dentist instructed me to inject a saline solution into the wound, using a needle about half the length of my arm. There was one bathroom on my floor for about 20 students, so naturally the first time I tried to shoot up, I was caught by a couple of juniors, who stared at me like I was onto something they weren't sure they wanted to try.

I was mortified. But the swelling soon subsided, along with my embarrassment, as more frat parties beckoned.

Gail Gugel, Silver Spring

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