“I fell down the stairs… I swear.”

I’ve become accident prone.  And I mean far more accident prone than my usual, Friday-the-13th-born self.

I’ve been to the doctor a lot lately.  Infection after infection after infection.  Most of them have all been in relation to this sort of whopping cough that I’ve had.

I already survived 3 months of that.  The doc said if things kept recurring, we’d have to really dive into why my immunity system just flat out isn’t working.

As if that wasn’t enough, last week was Phase 2 of piecing my jaw back together after chronic TMJ problems.  Phase 1 was August – now, wearing a “growth appliance.”  This appliance essentially had a little button where your tongue goes at the roof of your mouth.  Every time the tongue pushes the button, it would grab my front set of teeth and pull, forcing a full tooth-sized gap on each side between the molars and front teeth (only on the top) after 3 1/2 months.

Now, that sounds pretty backwards when the problem I am trying to fix in the first place is a large gap created by a very, very, very extremely wrongly made night guard that moved all of my teeth out of whack, resulting in having only 1/2 a set of molars touching and none of my other teeth at rest, able to chew.  Yea, that was years ago too.  This has already been a 3 1/2 year battle.

Anyway, the reason for moving everything forward is somewhat the same reason why way back in my parents day, they would yank out teeth for braces.  Except, that was never a good thing.  Not only did you lose teeth, your teeth were set further back in the mouth.  The point then was to provide more room.  The point now is still the same, but in a healthier way.  By bringing the teeth forward and pushing on that specific nerve at the top of the mouth that gets activated as a child through breastfeeding, you trigger the same growth patterns in your mind as you did as a child and it actually forces your jaw bone (there in the cheek bone area) to start growing again.  This will then support a more stable jaw, bringing everything wider and more forward, allowing for better breathing and less bad habits that result in chronic TMJ.  As a result, I’m supposed to be well on my way to being cured without having to have incredibly invasive jaw surgeries.

Last week, for phase 2, I went through a lot of things.

I spent 8 1/2 hours in the dentist’s chair.  The first 2 were to remove the first appliance, sandblast, sand paper, and drill off the cement that was left behind from all that metal.

From there, I was supposed to have a cavity filled and wound up not having any!  So I am still happily cavity free and completely terrified of having them.  That was my one major celebration for the day because it soon became a lot more serious.

I spent the next several hours having “shark ceramic” (really, that’s what they’re called) braces put on.  Ignoring the fact that it has been 20 long years since I first had braces, I was at least impressed in how they’ve improved the entire process.  All of my brackets were preset into a little mould that they essentially just shove on and take off.  Except that my top set went completely awry.

For my top set, they did the whole shoving on bit and then somehow in the pulling off process, they yanked two of the brackets off by hand.  Now, that’s not easy to do.  These brackets were already set and cemented.  Imagine what it would take for someone to physically, with their hands, rip off two brackets from someone with braces and that will give you a pretty good visual of what it was like.  We’re talking, white knuckled, back arching, face writhing, “SOMETHING IS WRONG!” panic without being able to talk… or bite.

At that point, I had five hands in my mouth pulling in every direction so much so that the corners of my lips actually tore while the dental assistants kind of laughed it off, “You didn’t know you could stretch that far did you?!”  Uhhh yea.  Not funny.

Trust me.  It still gets more interesting.

After the brackets go on, they have to run the wire through the brackets which isn’t an easy task when your teeth have become so crowded – a problem I have never had before even during my first set of braces.  Running the wire through, connecting each dot when the dots are so close by, means a lot of pushing and pulling on very sensitive teeth.  At this point, I’ve been in the chair about 6 hours.

Once that is done, I could voice a quick reminder that I had a swollen mucus gland in my lip that still needed to be looked at.

“Oh yea! Let’s get that cleaned up for you…”

The doctor stepped in, having had the problem herself.  I’ve already had something similar that was removed most of ten years ago, so I expected it would be a quick fix.  I think she did too.  So she started in without numbing me at all.  I didn’t think much of it.

She explained she would be lasering the small cyst open to drain and that would be all it took.  I was fairly confident that would be it.  I had already sliced it open a few times myself, but not with a laser.  I thought a laser would do the trick for that last bit I was never able to get myself.  I was looking forward to the relief!  Small or not, that little cyst was awkward and in the way.

The doctor cut in with minor draining.  So she began to squeeze like a pimple.  Harder and harder.  I could imagine exactly what it looked like, having gone this far myself already.  I was back to a terrified and pained position, white knuckling the bench, about ready to break Stark’s hand in half.  This time, I couldn’t help it.  My silent, dead-eyed composure was broken.  I could feel my entire face move into a wide-eyed position as I started to scream, muffled by another multi-set of hands in my mouth.  My mind flashed back to fights with my mother, trying to squeeze my teenage blackheads for me.  She had the fingernails of a witch when it came to that sort of thing.  Like a horror film, I could practically crawl up her bathroom mirror backwards, levitating out of sheer resistance.  That was nothing compared to now.  I felt like my entire body was writhing, shriveling into a broken mass.

What appeared to be a small bump on the surface, was anything but small underneath.  Having settled in for two months, this cyst had taken up full residence.  It appeared small only because my entire lower lip had swelled just enough to make the bump seem like nothing.  While the doctor was able to get the large cyst out, she insisted in order to finish removing and cleaning, that I would need to be numbed.  So now here we go – on to the fun stuff.  Someone was nice enough to finally give me 2 Aleeve.  Yes, JUST Aleeve.  They don’t believe in the hard stuff here.  Then I received aboutt five shots through the inside of my lip, numbing as best as possible.  I don’t think anyone wanted to see that kind of suffering again.  It was as much for them as it was for me at this point.

I felt like my body had collapsed into this great void of uncaring.  Nothing could hurt me now.  I didn’t even care if they numbed me or not.  “Just finish it…” I kept thinking.

After the numbing settled in, the doctor came back and finished cutting out four or five pieces.  That’s when everything really started bleeding.  No amount of sucky-tubes and dental appliances could keep up.  I was blubbering around like a Titus Andronicus Princess and no heat of the laser was going to stop it, so they moved on to stitches.  4 to be exact.  Double-knotted.  Each one.

Finally, I’m done.

The braces never hurt.  Hardly at all.  But the lip turned completely black and purple, huge, and gross.  Every entry point for the numbing needle bruised in that same big, ugly way that your arm bruises when a nurse misses the vein.  After a couple days, the outside skin between my lip and chin started turning light blue, black, and then yellow.  I looked like I had been in a serious fight and no one could really be sure who won.

That’s not all that makes me a beautiful hot mess right now.  One of my infections just so happens to be an eye infection as well.  As a result, I haven’t been able to wear contacts or makeup, and when I put in my eye medication, I look like I’ve been crying yellowish tears.

Still a little purple and yellow, looking as though I’ve been crying, I settle in to cook our expat Thanksgiving dinner for 10.  This is where the accident-prone side takes place.  I burned three of my knuckles.  I somehow cut my finger with absolutely no memory of doing so.  And I failed to catch a cookie sheet that went straight into my baby fat upper arm, branding me immediately with a nice, bubbly 2nd degree burn. Just for the icing on the cake, I somehow managed to royally screw up my previously broken ankle to the point where I’ve been limping and had to tape it up with athletic tape to even be able to walk up a single step.

So here I am – sick from so many ibuprofens and cough medicines, bruised all through my face, burned on my hands and my arm, and limping… I kind of feel if I was in the U.S., I would be picked up and questioned for some kind of abuse.

Needless to say, I’m happy it is Thanksgiving week back home and that everyone is pretty MIA at work.  I’m glad I get an extra week to sleep in and catch up.  I can only hope that everything is healed soon and I can go back to looking like less of a hot mess and more like a composed, yet fashionably-lazy person, like normal.

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