Living life toothless. Or alternately, Why I have become a recluse.

Yesterday I found some old lip gloss tucked away in a travel bag and I got a little excited.

It was my old favorite, Cover Girl Hipster, sooo pretty.

I haven’t worn it in about three years. In fact, I haven’t worn any lip gloss or lipstick or lip stain or anything else on my lips.

You’re probably wondering why. (Or, you may not care, but I’ll tell you anyway.) Because lipstick doesn’t look good with braces, and it looks even sillier when you have braces and you’re missing two teeth.

For the last three years, I’ve been preparing for orthognathic surgery. That’s jaw-breaking-wire-your-mouth-shut surgery. And I’m nearing the finish line. *BIG Happy Dance*

I’m having surgery for a couple of reasons: Number One – because I have TMJ and (a) was in so much pain I had trouble thinking straight, and (b) because I couldn’t open my mouth wide enough to eat anything thicker than a french fry; and Number Two – because I’m missing two permanent teeth and surgery was the only way to get room for dental implants.

The strange thing is, even though I’ve always had these problems, thanks to cosmetic dentistry and long-lasting baby teeth, no one would have ever known it–until I started going through the process to fix it.

The normal me.

See, really. This photo was just before the braces went on. I looked totally normal.

Unfortunately, it’s been one of those situations where it gets worse before it gets better. Really, really, very much worse. (No need to scroll down. Ha! There’s no after photo. In fact, you’d have to be James Bond to find any photo of me during the last three years. But, I digress.)

I had to get my 30-year old baby eye teeth pulled when all this began. Oh, what a blow. I’ve had various apparatuses to fill those two spaces, but those have come with lisps and eating problems and all kinds of interesting social situations.

Like the time I was at a black tie gala, a professional event, was talking to a highly regarded person in my field, and my teeth flew out. Just flopped right out of my mouth.

Yeah. That’s tough to recover from.

There was also the time at Disney World, dining at Ohana, sitting mere inches away from our dining neighbors whom I didn’t know, when I was attempting to (discreetly) make sure my braces were food-free. Alyssa, my six-year-old noticed, but she thought I was having trouble with my little fake teeth apparatus of the moment. “It’s okay, mommy!” she yells across the table and above the din, “You can take your teeth out!” And then everyone around us was suddenly so. very. quiet. Oh, die.

And then there have been times when I’ve gone somewhere sans fake teeth and have given someone a big (non) toothy grin because I forgot I didn’t have them in.

Have you ever been missing teeth? Do you know how people look at you when you’re missing teeth? I do. They look at you like you’re on meth.

Along with those gaping holes, there’s been an ever-growing overbite.

It’s so big, I no longer have a chin.
It’s so big, my mouth won’t close.
It’s so big, sometimes food falls out of my mouth when I’m chewing. Really gross, but totally true.

It’s very difficult to talk to your children about table manners when your mouth won’t close and food falls out.

I have stopped going places where I think I’ll see someone I know. I don’t talk or smile unless I have to. And I absolutely refuse to eat in public, or in my own house for that matter, if guests are present. Trust me, no one wants to see that.

So, I got the most wonderful news last week. I saw the oral surgeon who said, finally, I am ready for surgery. He scheduled it for December 10. Surgery! December 10!

Finally! I can get rid of this overbite!
And then I can get my teeth fixed!
And then I will look like my normal self! Normal!!
And I can EAT IN PUBLIC again!!!

Oh, how I long to look like me again. And wear lipstick. And keep food in my mouth.

There’s only one problem. I now realize that I am absolutely, utterly, overwhelmingly TERRIFIED of surgery.

I don’t want to be put to sleep. Shiver. I don’t want to have someone cutting my bones, or stretching my nerve. Cringe. Oh, I think I’m going to be sick.

I’ve never had any surgery, except getting my wisdom teeth out, which I don’t count because it wasn’t in a hospital. Really, it was just a glorified tooth-pulling.

I did take something away from that experience, however. They started the IV, told me to count backward from 100, and when I got to 99 and couldn’t, under any circumstances, hold my eyes open any longer… The heart monitor flatlined. Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep. Just like on TV. Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.  The last thing I remember before going out was the nurse, three inches from my face, yelling “IT’S OKAY!”

Turns out the little monitor sensor had come loose. I found this out when I woke up, after spending the entire surgery thinking I was dead.

Not a good experience.

So now that I’m facing an actual real, major, scary surgery … even though I so desperately want to get back to normal … I have some reservations. Here they are, in no certain order:

1) I might die, for real this time.
2) I might throw up from the anesthesia and how do you throw up when your mouth is wired shut?
3) I might starve to death without red meat.
4) If I have to pulverize red meat in the blender to survive, I might throw up because pulverized meat is nasty, and how do you throw up when your mouth is wired shut?
5) I might die.
6) How do you yawn when you can’t open your mouth?
7) Can I still floss?
8 ) Will I be able to yell?
9) What if I lose all feeling in my jaw and I always talk like I just got novacained at the dentist?
10) Seriously, what if I DIE?

I know I may be overreacting just a little, but I’m freaking out here! And December 10 just keeps inching closer. And I really think I’m going to throw up.

Comments (5)

  1. Ryan (The Woven Moments)

    So Kanye West rapped a whole album whilst his jaw was wired shut.

    In other words – you are going to be an infamous rapper by Christmas. Woo hoo?

    Thanks for linking up with #ShowYourWork! Love this post!
    Ryan (The Woven Moments) recently posted..November #ShowYourWorkMy Profile

    1. jenny leigh (Post author)

      Wow!! I had no idea. This totally gives me new hope 🙂 I’ve been practicing my wired shut voice for a while already, and it seems by the time all this is over my family will likely be very annoyed at hearing it all the time. Kanye must really have a knack for enunciation.

  2. Kathy Harrison

    Just today I have started wearing my mouth guards for my TMJ – something in my mouth 24 hours a day for at least 3 months. So If you call down and I answer the phone I am NOT drunk and slurring my words – I am just sluring my words. Can’t wait until the kids come tomorrow and I try to read for 20 – 30 minutes…..should be an experience. I too am down to soft foods – the nurse said think spaghetti – nothing harder or chewier than spaghetti – I had soup with mushy crackers today. And you will NOT die – But when I had my knees replaced the last words I heard before I was out was a nurse saying she couldn’t find her recipticating(I spell very badly)saw. Not good words….I mean I knew they would have to saw but that is why you are knocked out so you don’t have to heard those words and sounds… Best of luck and people will only laugh when you try to speak.

  3. Pingback: Thwarted by Old Man Jenkins | little miss jenny leigh

  4. brandy @ momwich

    OH MY! My two eye teeth are baby teeth and the permanent ones are stuck in the roof of my mouth, they’ve been telling me I need to have surgery for a year, but I refuse, I have so many fillings in the baby teeth its pathetic. I stopped reading after I read that you had your eye teeth removed because I was afraid it was going to be a bad story and I’d be even more scared to do it… 🙂
    brandy @ momwich recently posted..Wordless Wednesday – A bond like I’ve never hadMy Profile


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