Oh, The Vanity!

     One day, many moons ago I was on a trip with my little sister to New Orleans. I thought since I was the “big” sister I would surprise her for her 18th birthday and take her to Mardi Gras.  That was the first mistake  – taking an 18 year old to an out of control celebration in a city I’ve never visited. While we just touched down a mere four hours – the unthinkable happened. I insisted we wash our hands in the bathroom of a restaurant before heading out to devour a local walking tour of indigenous foods that all New Orleans had to offer. My first words upon entering the restroom were “Be careful, they just mopped the floor and it is slippery!” With that I went into the stall and skidded on the wet cement floor. Face down – boom – there I was with blood gushing out of my nose and when pulling myself to my feet I looked in the mirror and cried like Marsha Brady – “OMG MY NOSE! I BROKE MY NOSE!” Well, the next few days were spent trying to cover up my disfigured face and two black eyes. Thank goodness masks were en vogue and I managed to score a half a dozen that covered my black and blue face. My nose was spread out half over my face and my eyes looked zombie ish – and quite frightening! I remember calling my kids to warn them that when mommy came home she was going to look “different.”

     Well, that was 14 years ago – and back then when I went to the dentist to have my teeth checked out my dentist was determined that I did severe trauma to my FRONT tooth – and that it would have to be removed. The horror, the horror – I couldn’t bear that – picturing myself teaching in front of a bunch of teenagers with a missing front tooth or even worse, a removable FLIPPER like hockey players wore. I was stoic about keeping #9 as we referred to it- and I was in luck for over an entire decade! IT was fine – no wiggling, no pain, NOTHING- until two weeks ago. I woke up and felt an odd numbing sensation over the tooth, #9 was tingling and hurt to the touch. Even having my tongue roll over it set me back a bit.
     Time to revisit my dentist once again and tell her – SHE WAS RIGHT. I couldn’t live without having this tooth removed. It would be detrimental and possibly cause an infection and could spread. GULP. We went over the options – a dental implant that would take MONTHS (and was super costly – not covered by insurance) and would force me to use the flipper (which is basically a retainer with a lone tooth on it) until the area was safe for an implant. I couldn’t foresee myself waiting this long with a removable front tooth! NUMBER NINE was becoming my nemesis. However, trying to remain calm and intelligent, I made the appointment for the extraction. I convinced my dentist to go the safer route with a beautiful porcelain crown – hell, she said insurance covered it so why not do all four of my front teeth? As long as they didn’t have to be pulled, and I would have a beautiful smile in three weeks, I said I was in. But was I? I had a friend’s wedding on July 1st and my appointment on July 3rd. I wanted that wedding to last for months- I wanted to dance, and sing and get up and do my thing without a care in the world – Until it was over. And then there was one day separating me and losing #9. I will admit – and the amount of mascara on my boyfriend’s shirts could attest to it – there was a LOT of crying. Sobbing in fact. I was the most melancholy woman on the face of the planet. I just couldn’t picture myself in the oral surgeons chair and giving him the green light, like saying “GO for it, rip her out!”
     This is where your girlfriends come into the picture. My dentist wouldn’t prescribe me anything for my anxiety – and I didn’t have anything laying around the house – as some do after surgery, hospitalization, trauma etc. But my one friend did. She promised me that taking an anti anxiety pill  would relax me and maybe I wouldn’t be looking forward to the procedure, but It would definitely take the “edge off.” Now, I’m not an advocate for pill popping, but at this point I was at the end of my rope – a manic, sobbing mess. My son gave me a hard time about taking a pill that wasn’t prescribed for me – and I know he is right, we tell our kids all the time not to take medication that isn’t prescribed to you. But in this case, I prayed that ONE little blue pill  would give me the strength to get in that chair and have the damn procedure done.

     It made me fuzzy. It made me woozy and it didn’t help my blues, but it did give me the strength to get in the chair and be a big girl. My sweetheart held my hand as he looked out the window at anything but what was going on in the chair – lol and we got it done. The dentist popped the flipper in and it made a confident little “snap” that made me feel like it was going to be okay. It wasn’t going to fly out at randomly and it wasn’t going to fly out when I laughed. It has been two days. I have learned how to live with this little foreign being in my mouth. I have learned how to (my least favorite thing) take it out at night and clean it. I have also learned that if I could have put my vanity aside and just had this done when originally told to, it probably would have gone a lot simpler. I mean, we all have had tooth removed here and there I’m sure – but having #9 taken out to me, was so invasive and such a blow to my ego and self esteem it almost seemed unbearable. Now, knowing better and having faith in my doctors, I can move on and take better care of myself piece by piece. I’m including a pic of my temporary new smile. It may not be permanent, but it sure as hell doesn’t look as bad as I thought! AND, of course, there are so many health crisis that are so much worse than this, I should be grateful and let go of my vanity. 

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Author: Thea Ferzola

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