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Disclaimer: This story is completely true, not fictional whatsoever. Also, this is an extremely difficult topic for me to write about, and to talk about, so please excuse me if these thoughts seem jumbled, come out in a mess, or I just generally break down. If you are queasy, or do not enjoy harsh, truthful, bloody stories, it may be better if you do not read this essay.
Part One: The Explanation
Adrenaline is a beautiful thing sometimes… It can bring you up so high that you don’t even know what’s wrong with you, which, on the flip side, can only mean one thing; whenever there is a high, there is a low. Many people have heard the friendly heartwarming song about a young child wishing for his two front teeth for Christmas. I was that child, besides the fact that I’m not nearly a child and this horrific accident happened in the middle of August. I’ll never forget the date, that I can promise you. August 8, 2012. When I bashed my head in on a diving board, nearly breaking my neck and jaw as well as knocking lose two teeth, chipping another and losing blood by the bucket. And while this horrific accident is just that, I cannot really completely begin to explain why this made me a better (blank). All I know is that this accident did make me a better person. I have a higher recognition for life and for friends and family. My life will definitely never be the same after this, but since I’ve always been a bit… quirky… I’ll just use it for ammunition as story-telling for my children or anyone who cares to listen.
Back to the topic at hand; it was August 8, 2012. Five days from my Birthday, just merely a day after the finishing of my Eagle Project. I was at the highest point in my life. Now that I mention it, it was strange how everything was going so extremely well for me. I’ve never been known to have much luck at anything, or overall, but at that point, I was definitely having the time of my life. Just like adrenaline, however, I came down. And since I was so extremely high at this point, it was a complete drop when I fell.
Part Two: The Buildup
I was diving; messing around with my co-workers at Plum Grove Pool, my obvious place of work. I lifeguard there during the summers, and it was an unusually slow and boring day. I picked up a second shift later that day because I had no plans and the way this day was going, I was going to get paid to sit around and have a fun time with my co-workers. We had a little party planned after the last shift was up for a little bit of relaxing time with friends. I guess I managed to put a stop to that however, as I managed to hurt myself with my impeccable timing…
So there I was, doing an inward dive. For those that don’t know, an inward dive is where you face the board, not the pool, and push up and out, diving with your back to the board. Naturally, it’s always an exhilarating dive as you are really close to the diving board, which is the goal of the dive. However, it seemed like my luck had ran out, along with the weather, since it was getting dark rapidly and raining somewhat hard. So naturally, I went to the end, my toes on the edge of the board, taking a breath for what must’ve been the two-hundredth time I’d done the dive throughout summer. As I pushed down, then rode the board up, my left foot slipped out from under me, throwing me off balance and not getting the push I need to get far enough away from the board to be safe.
Part Three: The Contact
Shock. My adrenaline is pumping faster and stronger than I’ve ever thought possible. The scathing pain is not noticeable at first, not even discomfort is able to be felt. While falling towards the board, I reached out, attempting to fend the diving board from my all of a sudden very vulnerable neck area. Grabbing it, I held on, pushing it down as I fell. Once I couldn’t hang on any longer, it shot back up, hitting me dead on, square in the jaw. After that, it’s a blur. I hit the water, instantly sending me into shock. I swim to the ladder, after all, I AM a swimmer, and I should be able to do that. It takes more energy than I’ve ever dreamed of using for such a small distance. Pulling myself out of the water and realizing my teeth are gone sends me into a shock if I already hadn’t been in one. I start yelling to my co-workers, trying to alert them, getting their attention. One runs and calls 911, other calls my mom, and yet another manages to find one of my teeth at the bottom of the pool.
I’ve honestly never seen so much blood; I’m spitting it out as fast as it fills up my mouth. I spit out a tooth as well as blood while I get out of the pool, panic ensues. I’m not going to lie to anyone here, I was a wreck. Swearing like a sailor, spitting up blood left and right, I was definitely a sight to be seen. While people are trying to calm me down, I’m holding my teeth in my hand and pushing up a now blood soaked white towel into my gums to attempt to stop the bleeding. The ambulance and fire truck show up next, paramedics running about, laying me onto a backboard, trying to find for a spinal injury… This, however, must’ve been the worst possible part for my mom to come in; unfortunately, this is exactly where she decided to arrive on scene. So please, imagine this. You’re getting strapped into a backboard by paramedics and getting lifted onto a stretcher while holding a blood soaked towel to your mouth holding your teeth. This is probably the optimum time for your parental NOT to arrive on scene. I’ll be straight up with you; this was the scariest time in my entire life. However, on that same token, I never once cried, never blacked out from pain, and never complained about it.
Part Four: The ER
As I was wheeled away on the stretcher, bloody teeth in my hand and all, I had the inability to do anything but keep my mouth shut to keep from spraying blood all over the friendly paramedics. I was quickly loaded into the ambulance where people monitored my blood pressure and I put my teeth in my mouth. Quick fact, the saliva from your mouth keeps them alive because it saves the root. As we riding to the ER, the paramedic kept questioning me, and I just couldn’t talk anymore. I finally just asked him to stop and I began to actually drift off to sleep in the ambulance. He began shaking me, making sure I stayed awake, because it seems like I had lost so much blood I was woozy.
Arriving at the ER, I was once again wheeled on a stretcher from the ambulance. My mom and little brother already there, I was put in a room, given a blood pressure test, an IV placed in my arm, and a small little vacuum like object to suck up the blood. The resident ER doctor at this point came in and made sure they were giving me morphine. So, at this point, I am still not feeling pain, just the soreness and the fact that I actually know something has happened at this point. Once the morphine started working, the doctor and I had a talk, explaining how important it was that we get my teeth back into my jaw before they were rejected altogether and died. I readily agreed, and began to prepare myself for the pain that was about to come. Only, it never came because of the morphine. The doctor literally shoved my two front teeth back into my jaw forcefully, and I had not felt a thing.
Part Five: The Surgeon
I spent approximately an hour, maybe an hour and a half altogether at the ER, getting morphine pumped into my bloodstream, my teeth jammed back into my skull, and getting ahold of the dental surgeon who I was about to go see. I slowly rose from my bed, the IV out of my arm, gauze in my mouth, wearing small little sock slippers, feebly inching towards the assistant who was to push my wheelchair out to my father’s car. Meanwhile, my mom and little brother had left to go pick up my new drugs, an anti-infection pill and vicodin.
As my dad quickly pulled out of the hospital parking lot and drove a block or two to the dental surgeon’s office, little words were spoken. I was exhausted frankly and extremely worried and scared about the whole procedure. At this point, the morphine was starting to wear out and I was worried the pain would come soon. However, my savior came in the form of my dental surgeon with a needle. Let me be more specific, MANY needles. In twelve hours (two surgeries) one that night and one the following morning, it’s safe to say I had over 20 shots of Novocain, an anesthetic to help numb the area. So, at this point, I still have no feeling whatsoever in any part of my body, I’m just numb.
Part Six: The Mistake
Braces; that awkward two or so years of a teenager’s life when they are scared to smile because they have a face full of metal bits and pieces that look like they could be solar panels. I had to get them again. Yup, that’s right. I had gotten them off last February, happy with the way my teeth looked and excited that I finally got them off. However, as I said above, I had them yet again, this time, for an entirely different purpose. This time they were literally there to hold my teeth in my skull.
But now, getting to the mistake… My dental surgeon came in; he was not in the office during this point, since it was about 10:30 on a Thursday night. I shouldn’t really blame him, I’m sure the blood stained on my teeth had something to do with it, but for whatever reason, the braces didn’t stay on. And I’m not talking that we realized it while in office, my father and I had gotten all the way home when the brackets fell off altogether. At this point we ran back, and I had to get wires sewed through the gaps of my teeth to keep them in for the night.
Part Seven: The Aftermath
Now, I really wish I could leave you all with a happy ending to my story, but that really hasn’t come along yet. I am still struggling with this issue daily, however, now you can obviously see that I have gotten my braces off but still am extremely cautious about the entire deal. I can no longer bite on anything dead on with my front teeth, instead having to work it around the back. I will probably never be able to eat anything like an apple or corn on the cob again, something that, while I hate to admit it, does make me sad sometimes. With this all being said, this whole ordeal I’ve gone through has only increased my spirits, because I could have too easily been paralyzed for life or have been killed if the impact had snapped my spinal cord. This being said, as I have a higher respect for life now, I go along with the flow, not caring if I fit in or stand out, so please, if you see me in the halls and stop and smile, expect a large, somewhat toothless grin in return if I notice you.