I had a couple new “firsts” this last Tuesday morning. It was my first time literally running into the back of a parked vehicle [yes, go ahead and laugh – it is pretty stupid] and my first ambulance ride to the hospital. It was, however, not my first time knocking out my teeth. That first happened when I was two, jumping on the couch, trying to catch a helium balloon, not looking where I was jumping and then the couch was no longer below me and my face was introduced to the nearby coffee table. That knocked out both my front teeth, my lip needed stitches, which I apparently proceeded to pull out afterwards, and the left side of my upper lip still has the slight bump from those stitches. I looked older than I was for a while because it took a loooong time for my adult teeth to come in! Anyway, I am getting off track here. Now, history has repeated itself, but in a somewhat new manner as this time I didn’t actually fully knock out any teeth, but I came close. Three of them were broken, two of which had the root exposed so breathing in cold air hurt on the raw parts. Yeah, ouch. And the fact that I had braces at nineteen kind of adds insult to injury.
Word travels fast on Gabriola and becomes altered. Since Tuesday, I have heard many stories as to what people thought happened to me. Some thought I just had a fall, others that I fell down the stairs and others still that I actually lost all my front teeth. Of course, when my mom, or maybe it was Don [I was pretty out of it when one of them made the call] phoned my boss saying, “Maria can’t come in, she had an accident and smashed all her teeth out!” I can see how some people thought what they did. And to Mom and Don that morning, it probably looked that way because my lip was lacerated [a term the Nanaimo paramedic used], there was blood, my teeth were broken and my hands were cupped below my chin holding more blood and pieces of my teeth that I had removed from my mouth. So I guess they just didn’t know how extreme it was or wasn’t. Hence the 9-1-1 call.
You are probably thinking, “why did she run into the back of a parked vehicle in the first place?” Well, for one thing, it is completely dark when I jog to work in the mornings before 6:30 AM. I always jog to work, I know the lay of the driveway, where the pot holes are and where to step to avoid them so I have never bothered with using the flash light in my bag on my way to work. For another, the van wasn’t where it is usually parked. I didn’t know that it has been moved the previous night to make room for Don to back the truck up to the garage to unload the buck he had just shot – and that the van had not been put back in its regular parking spot. I didn’t expect it to be there and I simply couldn’t see it. Maybe if we had a white van, I would have seen the hint of a light glow in the dark that morning, but we have a grey, 1997 Astro van with a very tall, straight back. It blends in well in the dark.
I set out Tuesday morning as I always do around 6:20 AM, starting from the porch in a jog down the driveway, but I didn’t get very far before the shock of a hard, vertical surface knocked me on my back. I remember thinking in a stunned sort of way, “WHAT was THAT?!” And then I felt the pain. My nose, my mouth and my chin hurt. I tasted the blood. I felt the hard bits in my mouth which my mind went straight to “are those my teeth?!” and then I ran my tongue over the jagged forms of what was left of my teeth and cried out, “Noooooooo!!!!” Typical girl, right? Mostly concerned about her appearance.
Once back inside, Don was awake and he called mom. Don had me sit down which was a good thing because I passed out shortly after, I don’t think for very long though. They called my work and 9-1-1. I remember hearing people arrive, but not really seeing any of it. I recall being given the oxygen mask to hang on to. Hey! That was another first experience! So many little things were new to me that morning.
My grandpa used to say this about boxers because of their shorter, pressed in snouts, “Oh, poor dog has been chasing parked cars again.” Hearing him say this came to mind while I was sitting in the ambulance all frustrated with myself at the stupidity of it all.
We weren’t in Emergency for long before Mom took me to the dentist where they froze my mouth and sealed the exposed roots, which built up those two teeth a little bit, making it look like I have more teeth than I actually do right now, while filing down the other front tooth making it shorter, but not sharp from where it had been broken. So now I have snaggle teeth as my big sister, Rebecca, has been calling me, understandably and in a semi endearing way, all week. November 4th marks the day I get a temporary fix until they figure out what the permanent fix needs to be. So I am almost a week into this two week long lesson in humility while I live with these broken teeth. I kind of look like a puppet out of Sesame Street, but I can laugh about it now.
Since I had my braces removed when I was twenty-one, I have worn an upper and lower plastic retainer to bed every night. I now have been wearing my upper retainer to work because for the first couple days it felt better holding my teeth in place that were still quite loose, now it is more of a softening the blow on customers because the retainer kind of masks how bad my teeth actually look. The funny thing is now, when I am not wearing my retainer, I kind of have a lisp with certain words. Rebecca thinks it is cute; it makes me sound like a little kid. We were all laughing about last night around the table whenever I’d say something and it would come out not quite right.
This whole thing could have been so much worse! I am so thankful that I didn’t break my nose, or fracture my jaw, or get whiplash or a concussion! There is no bruising on my face that you can see, I can feel it, but it gets less sore every day. My body is stiff, but nowhere near as sore as I thought I would be. I think I got off easy.
I am overwhelmed by everyone’s response to this incident! By how much everyone cares! Our neighbour sent over homemade soup for me, a friend of the family dropped off flowers [pictured above] and a card, my bosses rearranged the work schedule so I could have had the rest of the week off if I needed it! I ended up returning to work the next day, but it was so good of them to give me the option, which I greatly appreciated. And I know so many people have been praying – thank you for your prayers! Thank you to everyone for your kindness!
To the first responders and paramedics – THANK YOU!! I was not entirely with it at the time, I remember Sal, Walter and Rick, but I know more of you were here and thank you all for your service, your incredibly fast response and your patience!
So here’s the damage! Just in time for Halloween! Don't mind the face - I couldn't do a serious face with teeth like this.
Snaggle-teeth is signing off!
PS... happy two months to Christmas!!!!