By Charlie Hodge
I continue to marvel at the unpredictable nature of life. Just when we figure we have it all sorted out, or the perfect plan in place along comes a curve ball to cause us consternation. Indeed constant change is here to stay and one had better be prepared to adapt or die.
I decided to adapt.
It’s not been a fun journey but it certainly has opened my eyes, mind, and attitude – though albeit, it made opening the mouth a tad tougher. For some, (Tez and City Council cohorts especially) I’m sure that’s a blessing. Regardless I continue to think of my life as blessed and my world amazing.
As some readers recall my 2017 started off with a series of oral surgeries to remove some infected teeth. After four operations to remove four teeth and some drainage tubes inserted in the mouth and jaw it was finely decided I had a life threatening infection in my jaw that was killing the nerves, numbing my face, causing major pain, and threatening to spread elsewhere.
That’s when amazing oral surgeons Bell and Naito went to work and saved my world. The end result was replacing three-fifths of my jaw with a titanium plate held in place by six screws and hundreds of stitches. According to Bell the operation was some two hours in length. “It took a little longer than we thought because we ran out of parts and had to get more,” Bell explained days later. (I have not asked him yet exactly what ‘parts’ he ran out of and exactly where in KGH they keep the supply of titanium jaws?)
I spent the next week or so recovering in hospital, fed by tubes and wired up to piles of machines, drip bags and, lucky me, a plethora of pain killers. Around day three I was starting to feel sorry for myself when I realized most of my mouth was vacant of chicklets and a real jaw. However it did not take long for me to smarten up.
The fellow in the next bed died during the night.
The fellow who took his place seemed to talk rather odd and I figured he had suffered a stroke. I was wrong. He had just survived surgery for cancer of the tongue. That’s when I realized once again how lucky I truly was. It reminded me that no matter how bad you think things are there is always someone having it rougher.
For the past four and a half months I have largely lived on soup, power shakes, and mush. I have dreamed about steaks and burgers.
Last week I finally decided that I had to find a way to eat more meat for protein and weight and learned that if I cut up anything small enough, including tender meat, that I could swallow it without chewing.
My first attempt was cutting up chicken. It was a pain filled disaster but a delicious one. Still, it took no time to forget how fortunate I was and I started pouting again.
It finally dawned on me yesterday (as I whined how I could hardly manage to slide a thin sliced and diced snippet of cut up pizza into my mouth) that it is going to be a long, long time, if ever, that my ability to chew anything again improves.
In reality the four little teeth I have left in my mouth that clamp together enough to sever anything are slated for removal in the fall when the titanium plate is taken out, lowered and put back in again. What I currently have is as good as it is going to get for a long time.
Deal with it. Get on with living.
So later this long weekend I intend to find the nicest frozen stake (long ago) buried in the freezer, thaw and marinate it in some yummy sauce, and then toss it on the barbecue. Just like in the good ole days. Just like regular folk with teeth do – if they can afford a hunk of beef.
It may take a ridiculous length of time to cut up small enough to inhale. It may also prove to be a tad messy what with barbecue sauce conflicting with a numb face and scraggly white beard – but I don’t care. Regardless of how perfectly prepared that steak is, I can guarantee it will be the yummiest one I have ever had.
I am getting hungry just writing about it.
At the end of this day my jaw journey has taught me or reminded me of a number of things – not only about myself but also life itself.
High on that reminder list is this: – life IS what happens to you while you are busy making other plans.
– life is short, taking nothing for granted.
– never turn down a free meal – it could be your last.