Friday, October 26, 2007

Life's defining moments

Last night I gasped in horror as my front four teeth fell out of my mouth, and realized how much effect a bicycle ride down Glouchester Hill when I was nine years old has had on my life.

It was a cool sunny summer morning, and I was out on my bike, as kids used to do back when the world was safer, having finished playing with a friend. Glouchester Hill was a wide wide avenue in a quite neighborhood of my hometown, with huge trees lining the sidewalks, bringing the entire street into their shade.

I raced down the hill, swerving from side to side on the quiet car-less street, when the pedal on the right side caught the concrete. My bike swung sharply to the other side, where the left pedal caught the concrete and stopped my bike dead. I kept going however, flying over the handlebars, landing mouth first onto the concrete, sliding a good 7 feet before coming to a stop at the end of a bloody path I'd lain on the road. Then my bike arrived, pouncing on me. There were all kinds of bits of teeth and tissue around me. I just started screaming.

After a few minutes, one of the people in one of the houses came out and scooped me off the road. They recognized me, as was common in a small town. They called my parents and drove me to the hospital. I was generally okay, just pretty bloody. But my mouth was a mess. Lacerated lips and broken teeth, and for the rest of my life (so far), I'd be dealing with the effects of that bike ride.

They tried to save the front top teeth by putting them back into my head and wiring them in place with braces that I wore for a few months. They didn't bother doing anything for the chips. My parents were cautious of me engaging in anything that might damage my teeth again, so for entire summers I would stand at the edge of our neighbor's trampoline, watching every kid in the world jump and do flips, but not being allowed to get on. I begged my parents, and finally when I was in Junior High, they wrote the "waiver of liablity" note that the neighbors required of parents and I went one morning, full of joy, to jump. I think I was on the thing for a total of 5 bounces, when the other kid jumping hit the tarp just before I did, and as I landed my knee bounced up, struck my mouth, and sent that tooth spinning onto the ground. I picked it up, carried it home crying, preparing myself for a round of "we told you so's."

Once again they tried to save the tooth. This time, they stuck it into my head and instead of braces, they put some goop across the front, attaching it to the adjacent teeth, and the whole school year kids were always telling me I had gum stuck on my teeth.

In high school, the tooth finally died. They pulled it, and for cosmetic reasons fitted me with this huge retainer thing that had one fake tooth on it. I hated wearing it, and for most of my senior year I went to school with my front tooth missing. It was a great look on the lacrosse field.

In college, they figured my mouth was done growing so I got fitted with a bridge across my front three teeth, with an adjacent crown to take care of the chips. It was nice to finally look normal. But I would occassionally still have bad dreams of being without my front teeth.

In medical school, something got loose, and I had to go in and have the bridge removed and replaced.

Later, on Saipan, we discovered that my mouth had not actually been done growing when the bridge had been fit, so I had some work done to improve the appearance.

Last year, during a routine check up, it was discovered that one of the teeth under the bridge had died and that the bridge would have to be sawed off, the crown removed, and the three-teeth bridge converted to a four-teeth bridge, or get dental implants. I spent a year ignoring this, but on Wednesday, I went in for the three hours of sawing and grinding to get the bridge and the crown off. It included a new experience for me -- hearing my tooth get crushed between pliers as they were trying to remove it. Dr. Reedstrom gave me the best dental anesthesia I'd ever had, and it was all a pretty peaceful experience... well, except for the sound effects.

Dr. Reedstrom fitted me with a nice looking temporary bridge that will be in place for a few weeks until my gums heal. They warned me that I have to be gentle with it, since the glue is only temporary. Which brings me to last night, brushing my teeth, and gasping as I saw my four-teeth bridge drop into the sink. I picked it up, put it back on as fast as possible, and was surprised there was no pain from the underlying tooth nubbin with its raw nerve being exposed for those 10 seconds.

This morning Dr. Pierson fixed me up with more glue and I'm a happy camper as I await my permanent bridge.

All from a ride down Glouchester Hill on a sunny summer morning as a nine year-old kid.


Ken & Crystal said...

Wow. That is quite a story! I can't believe you knocked out a tooth again during your first trampoline jump session. Poor fella. Dr. Reedstrom and Dr. Pierson are very good and will take excellent care of you!

Boni said...

I thought you could only make me wince and gasp with the gory eye stuff but ewwwww! I almost threw up a little thinking of the pain.

marianas life said...
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marianas life said...

my brother went ass over tea kettle but his teeth just got jammed up into his jaw and came out later, behind the permanent teeth.

your eye pictures are awesome, but the tooth story crosses a line:) i am shivering and cringing with creepy crawlies imagining myself in your shoes. the bike crash and blood, phooy, but teeth being crushed by pliers? 4 teeth bridges? anesthesia for the mouth?
there are 3 things that give me the heebie jeebies: spiders of all shapes and sizes and their webs, people, including myself touching the front 1/2 of my neck, and dental procedures beyond cleanings and x-rays.