Over the last two years, my dentist and I have been working to get my teeth in good working order. Not that they didn’t work well before, mind you. I had no problem chewing or ripping the heads off gingerbread men with my incisors. It’s just that I had a bad dentist many years ago who decided that it was best to save a wisdom tooth on my mandible and get rid of a molar on the maxilla, very close to the saved wisdom tooth, and that threw everything off, since the molar was never replaced and the wisdom tooth shifted and chipped my now unstable teeth above it.
Yeah, he wasn’t the brightest of dentists.
After many years sans dentist (because I didn’t know who to trust), in 2013 I found a good one through my boyfriend. Even better, he’s within walking distance of our place.
We’ve now got all the previously endangered teeth saved, fixed, or replaced with crowns. And now, we’re finally tackling my two upper incisors. He’s been wanting to replace those since the day we met.
See, when I around 8 or so, I was riding my bicycle down a hill, trying to catch up with a friend, and I fell off my bike, slamming my face into the concrete. I knocked all of my teeth loose, so I was given braces to help tighten my teeth. I only had to wear them for a few months, so that was of the good, but I’m not sure slamming one’s face on concrete is the best way to avoid wearing braces for several years during one’s teens (and I probably would have).
In my early 20s, when my nerve-damaged incisors broke after chewing on a pen, my then-dentist (a good one, not the bad one mentioned above – he came later) replaced them with crowns. They lasted many years, but after 20+ years, they were showing their age and the gums were looking irritated. So my current dentist recommended that they be replaced with more current dental work and after almost two years, I finally agreed. (Mainly because I have over $1,000 left in my health flexible spending account and if I don’t use it this year, I lose it).
This is all a roundabout way of saying that I started thinking about that childhood fall. And I thought about my fall last October, where I slammed my face into concrete again, receiving a rather impressing black eye in the process. And I started counting up the number of times I’ve hit my head over the years (usually through my own clumsiness).
The time as a child where I slammed into a clothesline pole left eye first when playing hide-and-seek or hit my right eye on a sink because I wasn’t paying attention (lovely bumps from those).
Or the time I got in a verbal fight with one of my brothers over who was going to take a shower first and he lost his temper and punched me in the face. (No real damage there, but apparently I screamed and fell. I remember the verbal fight and the falling. I don’t remember the punch or the screaming, but I must have screamed, because the entire family ended up looking down on me.)
There was that time when I fell off the high part of a slide when I was maybe five or six and hit – yes, you guessed it – face first in the hard dirt and cut up my mouth. And when playing volleyball or other sports during my school years, I’ve had objects accidentally hit me in the face because I just managed to move in the exact wrong direction when trying to catch or avoid these objects.
I hit a single spot on the back of my head enough times over the course of two years in the mid-Aughts that there is now a divot in that spot.
(None of this is takes into account the falls/missteps/accidents I’ve had that didn’t involve my head.)
I’m thankful that I’ve never broken a bone and that I apparently have a really, really hard head. But I’m not sure that I haven’t been affected.
My memory has always been a little shaky and it seems to be getting shakier as I get older. My ability to lay my mental hands on the appropriate vocabulary word is also getting more iffy, which is absolutely frustrating for me. I’m sure that some of that is due to age – my experiences piling up and my brain attic filling up to a precarious point where it looks like a hoarder lives in there.
But I wonder, how much of my unreliable memory, or my loss of vocabulary, is due to these head injuries?
I tell ya, it sure would explain a hell of a lot.