"Mommy used to smile a lot. She loved to laugh and sing and lecture us about e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. But now, she is different. She speaks less and hides her mouth when she smiles, although her eyes give her away so I know she is happy."
I took a tragic fall off my bicycle last April and was thrust face-down into a busy intersection. I lost control of the bike when I tried to jump a curb at a ridiculously high velocity. Blame it on my mid-life crisis. I tempted fate and I lost.
Needless to say, my recovery has been long and painful. After the paramedics arrived at the scene and rushed me to the emergency room, it was quickly discovered that my chin was shattered, I had lost and chipped several teeth and was left with a jaw that suffered multiple fractures. I even sustained a base skull fracture despite my “safety helmet.”
And on August 29th, I electively went under the knife again, to fix what never healed properly; what had left me with an unaligned jaw that bore an eerie, open bite to the likes of a Neanderthal. Not even years of braces would’ve fixed that. There was no option.
Smiling and Laughter
So here I am still swollen, in severe pain and want to disown my mouth. I feel betrayed by a mouth that no longer fits my needs---needs to smile, to laugh and to tell jokes. And sadly, my teeth are so sore and sensitive from the trauma, I can muster up no more than a reluctant half-grin, if necessary. If I courageously attempt more, I resemble Charlize Theron in Monster---not pretty---and expose more hardware than Home Depot and gaping holes that used to be occupied by a familiar pair of Sophia Loren-type-buck-teeth. Consequently, I try to maintain a stoic expression which has become a burden for my heart.
From a woman who voices her opinions on everything, solicited or unsolicited, speaking has become almost impossible. Back in April, I had mastered talking while wired shut by moving my lips frantically. Friends, family and neighbors were amazed by my newfound talent. Over the phone, many challenged that it was all a shenanigan and that my mouth was perfectly normal. However, ever since the wires were removed last week, my lazy, incompetent jaw now wants to be part of the action. It moves ever-so-slightly and the results are undesirable at best. I spit. I drool. I cannot articulate due to the disappearance of several critically-positioned teeth. Words beginning with the letter “F” emerge incoherent. So I talk less, write more and use hand signals to discipline my kids.
These days, I’d rather go hungry than engage in the barbaric act of eating. For weeks post-surgery, I used a syringe to pump liquid into my fragile mouth. Shortly thereafter, I was able to suck through a straw. Now I am encouraged to begin a “soft diet” and recruit the jaw muscles. However, the entire process is arduous. I must push the food in and try not to get it stuck on the hardware or dribble down my numb chin, or end up splattered all over my shirt. If you’ve ever spoon-fed an infant yucky veggies and took note of the mess that ensued, that’s me lately. I avoid eating with others.
I know this will all be behind me, but for now, I’m sticking to my liquid diet. Chewing is a sloppy endeavor and not conducive for a neat-freak like me.
And yes, I’ve lost weight and would highly recommend a wired jaw for those that are out of weight-loss options. It undeniably works better than anything else out on the market.