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Review—Fractured Jaw
Written by Rachel Wilson — 9th September 2015

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I still don’t know how to get blood out of leather. It’s dried onto the tongue of my boots and the front of my jacket, which I haven’t taken to the dry cleaners yet, either. I’d feel bad for them having to scrape months-old erythrocytes off it. I find this one of the cruellest reminders of my accident. I had my jaw wired together for six weeks, and I have to be a responsible adult and take my shit to the dry cleaners, too?

Three months ago I fell off my bike and fractured my jaw in two places. I was sailing along in my boyfriend’s slipstream when I clipped his wheel and schismed off onto the road. The slow-motion memory cliché holds true: the fall lasts forever in my head. I’m suspended in the air as my mandible squares up to the concrete. In reality, though, I only had time for one thought: ‘Holy fuck, this is going to hurt.’

When my boyfriend peeled me off the ground and helped me to the pavement, I insisted I was fine. Give me a minute and we can ride home! He patted my head and called an ambulance. ‘I’d still pick you up in a club,’ he said. While he was on the phone I noticed the blood streaming from various parts of my face and a vague agony along my jaw line. It didn’t occur to me that this was bad news—I thought you were supposed to scream and writhe in pain when you’d hurt your bones. I just stuck my fingers in my mouth to feel for missing teeth.

Being wheeled into Emergency on a stretcher with my head strapped to the bed was a novel experience. I’ve seen it so many times on TV that it felt hyperreal—I nearly laughed when the doctors poked their heads into my field of vision to tell me ‘don’t move’ as they started undressing me. I had a muscle-deep laceration on my chin and a gap had materialised between my bottom two front teeth where the bone had fractured. A bulge had appeared by my right ear where the second fracture had occurred. The joint would have given way to protect my skull, the doctor told me as I signed my consent for surgery.

Rach_mouth_xray

On the day of my operation the anaesthetist came to my bedside. ‘Show me how far you can open your mouth.’ Not very far was the answer. Turns out if they can’t stick a tube down your trachea to assist your breathing during surgery, you have to have it stuck down your nose—while you’re still awake. This was the stuff of nightmares. In the anaesthetic room I was pumped full of intravenous sedatives and the nurses held me down while I received an injection to my larynx. I passed out at that point—ostensibly from the drugs but probably from the fear.

While I was asleep the doctors nailed titanium plates to my chin and wired arch bars to my teeth. I never thought I’d feel a kinship with Kanye West but apparently he recorded Through the Wire wearing these devil’s apparatus, so now my respect for him knows no bounds. Following hospital, I endured six weeks of living on a liquid diet of strong painkillers and the calorific equivalent of one meal a day. It was a miserable existence made better only by 30 Rock marathons and the odd sympathy drink with friends. Soon enough I was under general anaesthetic again to relieve my mouth of the torture traps.

I’ve been told my front teeth will probably die off in the fullness of time and my jaw still clunks when I chew. Despite this, I feel bright about my future. I survived! And now I’m the proud possessor of a surplus Endone prescription—every cloud, right? Now I just have to see about that trip to the dry cleaners. I guess I’ll get there one day soon.