When I left the hospital, the nurse gave me wire cutters and told me I had to carry them with me AT ALL TIMES. Sorry for the use of the capital letters there, but they were very serious about this point. I even had to sign a document promising that I would carry them AT ALL TIMES.
I knew they weren't to be used if you were throwing up. (Apparently, you're supposed to use your fingers to open up your lips, bend over, and let the vomit run out from between your teeth. Mmmmmm. Fun.) I assumed their only use would be if your airway were obstructed or you weren't breathing and someone needed to perform CPR.
Bella: So, how do you use these?
Nurse: I don't know.
Bella: I should know how to use them if I have to carry them at all times, don't you think?
Nurse: I'll ask and find out.
I think I was the first person to ask this question. That's kind of disturbing, when you think about it. How many jaw surgery patients are carrying these things around with no real idea of what to do with them?
Nurse: You just give them to the paramedics if something happens to you.
Nurse: We've never known of anyone who's actually had to use them before.
Bella: But what if I need to?
Nurse: Just get in there and start cutting everything.
Bella: Alrighty then.
The infamous wire cutters that no one uses.
As you can imagine, I was not going to miss carrying those things around in my purse. Their very existence reminded me that I was in a precarious position, choking wise. Something I'd rather not think about when my jaw's wired shut for two weeks.
Other things I was not going to miss: crazy concoctions made in the blender that, more often than not, turned out to be very unappealing; talking through clenched teeth; and finessing one of my pills, which couldn't be crushed up, through the tiny space behind my back teeth so I could swallow it.
But then, the magical day came. The day I got with the 21st century and went wireless (thanks for that turn of phrase, DK.)
The boyfriend had gone to plug the meter just before I got called into the office, so I held the camera up as the surgeon cut the wires and took all these pictures myself. My surgeon asked, "You can take those all by yourself?" My response: "Trust me, when you're as narcissistic as I am, you become very good at taking pictures of yourself!"
It was a very weird feeling to have those wires off for the first time. It was actually uncomfortable. My jaw was sore and I could barely open my mouth. If you look at my mouth in the above picture, that was literally as far as I could open it after being unwired. It felt really unstable. At that moment, I would have been quite happy had he said he was putting the wires back on.
But then, he gave me a toothbrush and some paste and told me to brush.
And the heavens opened and there was much rejoicing. Because let me tell you - not being able to brush the backs of your teeth for two weeks straight = downright disgusting. My tongue had been brushing up against a layer of fuzz for a week at least, so brushing was a higher priority than being able to eat.
My teeth just after unwiring and before brushing.
Pretty gross, hey?
I brushed for about 20 minutes to get all the stains off. At first, I couldn't even fit the toothbrush into my mouth to get at the backs of the teeth. But I was determined to get that gunk off, so I held my jaw and pressed the bristles against my lower teeth until some of them went on the other side. It was the best feeling in the word. I was so relieved once I was done.
It was then that I realized - I can talk! (So, I babbled the surgeon's head off.) And then it dawned on me - hey, I can eat! (So, I stopped talking and got the hell out of the office so we could go for lunch.)
Now we know Bella's hierarchy of needs: Brushing, Talking, Eating.
The boyfriend and I grabbed a friend of mine who lives in The Big City and went to my favourite Mexican restaurant to eat My First Meal As Someone Who Can Open Her Mouth. I was still not allowed to chew anything, so I had to get something soft and mushy. I ordered the mexi dip, which is refried beans, fresh salsa and cheese baked in a tortilla shell. And I ate that mo-fo with a spoon and a side of guacamole and sour cream.
And it was sublime.