When I was 19 I had my 3 front teeth knocked out, playing rugby. Actually not totally OUT, more broken and pushed back into the roof of my mouth. It was the ONE AND ONLY TIME that I’d EVER ( as in EVER EVER ! ) forgotten my gumshield, for either playing or training, and I’d played for 10 years by then. It’s not even that common to get a blow to the mouth whilst playing ( as in it’s hardly every game ) but of course that particular day when I didn’t have a gumshield ( and I’d even considered not going on the field ) I had a clash of heads with my fellow centre and broke 3 teeth…. Rod Lewis was his name. I think he’s a solicitor now. I haven’t seen him in decades, but I suppose he’s forever left his mark on me.
It was playing against Bristol Poly, and I did obviously have to come off, and then wait for an ambulance… to take me to hospital. Whilst waiting, a girl I knew called Lisa Collins ( rugby groupie material ) came up with her friend and expressed their concern… I was obviously spewing blood from my mouth, much to their horror.. and being of a Welsh Bravado persuasion I said to Lisa’s friend ‘ Do you fancy a French kiss …?’
Rightly so, she recoiled, but evidently thought it was humour in adversity… that girl went on to become my wife.. I wonder had I not said those words would that have happened?
Life is a series of Sliding Doors isn’t it? Had I worn a gumshield, kept my teeth, not come off the field, not tried to be funny to some girl, I’d probably not have ended up in London, not married her, not had the kids I had etc etc etc.
I wouldn’t have gone on a cycle trip with a bunch of school dads because I’d never have met them. I’d not have had a catastrophic cycle crash, and I wouldn’t now be paraplegic.
But maybe I would? Maybe I’d have had a crash doing something else altogether, maybe years sooner than I did. Maybe I wouldn’t have even got to my forties, who knows? It’s all impossible to say.
The above wasn’t what I was going to write in this post, but as I don’t ‘ plan ‘ posts it doesn’t matter if I write something different to my initial intention anyway. What I was going to write about was me going to the dentist today, which IS as a consequence of me knocking my teeth out that day.
That ambulance that afternoon took me to the Bristol Infirmary, where a doctor in A and E, without any anaesthetic, told me to open wide, then shoved his fingers into my mouth, and pulled my teeth back quickly ( with them amazingly not just falling out ) had a quick look and sent me out…. Not knowing any better, and ‘ trusting the Doctor’ I assumed they’d just be ok… but accepted the ( terrible) pain that I got whilst having to drink cold beer in the bar afterwards. It wasn’t like I could just go home to bed – we were in Bristol and I lived in Cardiff. It was an away game, and there was a coach ride back to Cardiff at 10 pm. What else was I supposed to do other than drink? It numbed the pain I’m sure, at the same time as being excruciating. I recall trying to drink my beer out of the side of my mouth, so it was less painful. Mmmm it all seems pretty stupid now, but hey.
Anyway, the next day I came to my senses a bit and took myself to Cardiff University Dental Hospital. The dental surgeon there pretty much said the doctor in Bristol should be arrested for what he’d done to me… ( but obviously that didn’t happen ) He treated my mouth over 2 weeks or so, and carefully repositioned my now crooked teeth, in the broken and splintered sockets, and made a dental splint ( like a gumshield- the irony isn’t wasted on me ) that I had to wear for 3 months, until the bone mended and the teeth were solid again in the sockets. After that he took the roots out, because he said they were all dying/ dead and my teeth would go black, and fitted veneers over the teeth. I had those veneers for at least 10 years.. and was quite happy with them. Yes, they weren’t a perfect colour I suppose, but I didn’t care. The only person that they seemed to bother was that girl I’d met the day I had em knocked out, who was by now my wife.
So I succumbed to her pressure and had the veneers changed, at great expense obviously… and some whitening stuff done to make them match better…
Since then it was probably every 2 years or so that one of the veneers broke … and then having been forced to change them to crowns … it has been every 2/3 years that one of the crowns broke off… until a few months ago that my daughter Lily made me a cake … and it was so hard that when I bit it and broke off my crown good and proper ( right in the middle of the pandemic when dentists weren’t available much ) that I had to have a single tooth denture …
A front tooth denture isn’t actually that great. The thing moves about and gets in the way of eating a lot. It’s far worse than the mildly discoloured veneers that I definitely should have stuck with. I’d have saved myself a good ten thousand pounds for sure too. … but hey you can’t turn back time.
So back to today then. Today I went to have a front tooth implant, or at least have the first part of the procedure. I didn’t know how complicated it was going to be. I had a molar implant about 20 years ago and I don’t recall it being a big deal … but wow, having a front one is fairly nasty I can tell you.
First the guy had to tear/ pull/ cut out a big chunk of bone from my jaw at the front ( I had about 20 …REALLY PAINFUL injections just before to numb my whole face pretty much ). He didn’t use a drill, just a sharp pliers that he forced into my jaw, applying substantial force ( I wonder how a less strong dentist, or a female dentist perhaps, would even be able to do it ? ) for a good 5 minutes non stop, kinda pushing and slightly twisting at the same time, to ‘ bore a channel ‘ into my jaw, eventually pulling out an almond ( out of its shell ) nut sized piece of jawbone, all bloody obviously, which he proudly showed me, as if to say ‘ that’s why it took so much effort’ ..
Then, between suctioning out all the blood that flowed profusely, he forced in lots of ‘ chemical bone graft material ‘, followed by the inner part of the implant. That’s the bit that’ll hold the peg in place, once that’s screwed into it in a few months time. The delay is to let the thing set, before the peg post is screwed in, before the false tooth is glued onto that. I listened carefully to that bit about having to let the bone set for 3 months before it’s deemed solid enough to be able to trust a tooth fixed to it … and then wondered how on earth I was told to move from bed to wheelchair 48 hours after having my whole spine rodded and bolted in 2016… with the disastrous consequences that entailed when the screws pulled out … somewhat predictably right ? Maybe I should have asked my dentist to do my back surgery…?
A few hours later and it’s started to hurt. The anaesthetic is evidently wearing off.. and I’ve been told to take the painkillers and the prophylactic ( infection prevention ) antibiotics for a week. Dental injections always make me feel a bit crap, they always have, so I’ll go to bed early today. I’ve not slept well for a while, which perhaps doesn’t help with the memory thing… which for sure is on my mind a lot ( when I remember..🤦♂️) I find myself testing myself. Can I remember this person and his her wife/ husband’s / child’s name etc etc? Half the time I can’t, but some of those times the names will them come to me and I think maybe I’m ok?
Writing this post has made me ponder the Sliding Doors of Life.. and made me wonder and question which doors I walked through. Post divorce it’s common to look back and wish you hadn’t ever gone there. Divorce is often bitter, and I’d be lying if I said all is calm even 3 years after, because it really really isn’t.
And the longer the acrimony continues, the more you wish you’d kicked that door shut and walked on through another.