As many of you already know, I am wire free! Since I am still dealing with some pain, stiffness, sensitivity, and awkwardness, mostly all pertaining to my right side of my jaw where I had one of my two breaks, I have as of today been assigned some physical therapy to help with healing. But as my new saying has become, “This is always going to win over being wired!” It isn’t hard to trump how you feel when you spent 7 weeks not being able to open your mouth, eat real food, or see your own tongue.
My process of getting free comes with a good story, and as my cousin told me the other day, “That Wordless Wednesday of yours is fine and all, but I like your words,” so I am going to get this post made before I am too far removed from the moment of freedom. It’s been a great two weeks of soft foods and teeth brushing, but let’s rewind to the removal day:
The night before removal, I posted my full bling for all of Facebook to see. It seemed fitting to give those that had not had the opportunity to see me in person a bit of a glimpse. Basically they just look like someone got confused and put my braces too high, but those babies were not comfortable and they completely restricted my jaw movement for almost two months.
Bright and early the day after, we headed to the hospital for surgery. All typical routines that need to occur before a surgery were performed and all the staff and nurses were excited with me and baby girl for our big day.
My anesthesia team came in to talk. I wanted to completely understand why this process required me to “go under” and they did a great job of explaining why this was our best option.
Once convinced this was truly the best approach, they team began to say the two options they had for putting a tube into me to help with sedation and the surgery process. One was to insert the tube into my mouth and the other was to use my nose. Our conversation continued like this (keep in mind I am still fully wired and muffled in speech)
Me: “I have read on the Internet that I will only be able to open my mouth this far” (picture me showing about half an inch between my pointer finger and thumb)
Anesthesiologist: “Well, that may be true, but we will never know unless we try, and I would like to try first, since down your throat would be the best option.”
Me: “I don’t know. I’m really scared of trying honestly.”
Anesthesiologist: “It’s worth a try though. We’ll have the surgeon come in and cut the wires and then you will open and we will make a decision before sedating you.”
Me: “Ok, I guess that makes sense”
And then we continue on with more pre-surgery information, only to have me interrupt him and say boldly, “I’m not going to do it! Just put me under through my nose and then take it all off. I’m scared of how much it will hurt, so just do the nose. Please.” He kindly responds, “I understand, but I still think we should try and see. You just never know, okay?”
And then I am blinded by the removal of my glasses, given a kiss from my dear husband, and briskly wheeled away off to the surgery room.
Once in the sterile and cold room, everyone begins their fantastic treatment of me and baby girl. We’re kept warm, encouraged, situated nicely, and all matters in between. Everything is ready for sedation but they can’t proceed until they know the pathway of mouth or nose, so the wires need to be cut. We wait and wait, since the surgeon is who they want to cut them and he is not present yet (typically they wait until sedation to show).
Minutes pass and finally the resident appears to cut my wires, using what have to be the largest and most unnecessary wire clamps/cutters ever. It actually kinda hurts because my teeth are extremely sensitive, and I begin to mentally thank the anesthesia team for recommending full sedation. Finally, the 5-6 sets of wires attached to top and bottom arch bars are all removed, and as the anesthesia team, the surgery techs, and the resident surgeon peer over me from above, I hear the words, “Okay Summer, time to open your mouth!”
Now, rather than being sealed tight with wires, my jaws are clenched with fear. Without opening my mouth, I say, with teeth still fully compressed upon one another, “No. I can’t. I am scared. It will hurt too much. Just put me under. I’m scared.” Then I begin to cry.
They burliest man in the room, completely tatted up, gently grabs my hand. An anesthesia nurse wipes my tears. All six faces looking down on me from above begin to encourage me. So, with great trepidation, I open my mouth. And it is at that point that I think angles sang the Halleluiah Chorus from above and I lift the top teeth away from my bottom. It was magical and surreal.
“Is that as far as you can go Summer? Open as wide as you can for us” says someone in the room.
“Come on, you can do it; try to open as wide as you can” they all echo kindly, flashing smiles of encouragement my way.
And then I do it, I open as wide and as far as I possibly can. In my head, I’ve opened this far, and I am quite proud of myself:
But the next words I hear are “It’s nose; come on let’s get started,” and nearly everyone but tattooed hand holder scrambles away and begins prep. He leans down and whispers to me, “I am going to have to let your hand go because I have to get to work. You did great!” With that hand now free, I began to move it towards my mouth, since my other arm and hand contained my IV and other medical necessities that made it precarious to move. It was at that point I realized I had truly only opened my mouth this wide:
That’s right, I basically didn’t. I couldn’t even get my pointer finger fully in my mouth. It was ridiculous. Immediately, I began to laugh at myself, for my mental vision of what I thought I had done and what the true reality was were very far apart. This realization brought me to laugh hysterically at myself, the kind of laugh where your belly kind of shakes and your mouth smiles big. Laughing so large actually hurt my jaw, so the chuckles of laughter were quickly replaced with some moans of pain. Next thing I knew, I was out like a light and the surgery had begun.
I then traded my arch bars and wires for a more socially acceptable look:
This is a “selfie” taken the day after surgery for removal.
After seven weeks, it was great to be free.
About four days later after surgery, I was able to go to church and have many from my church family celebrate with me. While in Sunday School class, we took time to study from the book of John. In John chapter 5, Jesus is in Jerusalem and travels to a pool where the sick would go for healing. There, he encounters a man who had been sick for 38 years (John 5:5). Jesus asks a question of the man, while he lay on a mat near the ‘healing’ waters, “‘Do you want to get well ?’” (v6). Not knowing he was speaking with Jesus, the man explains how he has no one to put him into the pool when the waters are bubbling and ready to heal the lame, sick, and blind. Next thing you know, Jesus tells the man “‘Get up, pick up your mat and walk!”
Want to know what the man does after 38 years of being sick and on the mat? Does he sit there and tell this guy in front of him that he can’t do it? Proclaim that he is too scared? Explain again and again that likely, after all that time and atrophy, his legs aren’t going to work right and slow is likely the best approach? Nope. Instead, here is what transpired right after Jesus’ command in verse 9:
Instantly the man got well, picked up his mat, and started to walk
That’s right, he just moved with faith and did as he was told, without hesitation, and accepted his healing.
After reading this familiar story so shortly after my events, I gained an even greater depth to the account. I couldn’t even open my mouth after 7 weeks. I actually uttered my first few sentences wire free in the same condition I was before my freedom, through fixated jaws and clenched teeth. I only had 7 weeks of my confinement ,and here, after 38 years, the man just embraced his healing, obeyed, and walked. That my friends is beautiful, for I know he could have said a million and one reasons why it wasn’t a good idea. He could have made excuses. He could have asked for a few minutes to think on it and he could have just sat there for a bit and begin doing small movements and work slowly up to walking—-but he didn’t. He responded immediately.
God wants to heal us of so many things, yet often I think our own fear of following through keeps us on the ground, as in the case with the man in the book of John, or keeps us with clenched teeth, as in my case. We know we need to forgive someone, yet it feels good to grow bitter. To find that freedom takes some work, and we are scared to start the conversation, and we feel justified in our hate. Situations like this serve to show why Christ asked the question “‘Do you want to get well?’” Too many of us enjoy our misery. We like the comfort of our old ways. We appreciate being able to feel sorry for ourselves. We’ve been with the affliction, hateful spirit, or image of ourselves for so long, we’d just prefer to stay that way. But imagine the scene, his and mine, if we didn’t finally take the freedom and healing. What if he just sat there? What if I just continued these past few weeks to keep my teeth together? Our situations would not have changed any, but this time, instead of disability and circumstance keeping us there, it would have been pure choice. Misery is never good, but it is certainly worse and extremely compounded when you choose to be there.
So, take the freedom, preferably immediately, but if you say a few sentences before you embrace it, that’s better than a chosen prolonged imprisonment.
Choose freedom, and then you will be able to eat your best meal in at least 7 weeks, even if it takes you 45 minutes to eat one pancake. One slowly eaten pancake is always going to be better than drinking everything through a straw.