Did you have braces as a kid? I did not. As a kid.
But as an adult I had to wear them for the oddest (and scariest) reason.
When I was the ripe age of 30, I noticed my bite was off. My teeth started to hit at an uncomfortable angle, and suddenly I found myself sporting an underbite. It was like I was morphing into a Lhasa Apso dog. What the heck?
I was a stressed out, busy lawyer at the time, so I shoved thoughts of it aside. Also, I was hoping to get pregnant, and after a year of trying with no luck, was pretty bummed out and preoccupied with that quest.
At a teeth cleaning in May that year, I casually mentioned my new underbite to my dentist. He checked it out and then referred me to an oral surgeon. “That's a bit extreme,” I thought. But dutifully, I scheduled an appointment for June.
The oral surgeon took measurements and sent me to have a blood draw and an MRI. Sheesh - what was everybody so worked up about? If I need braces, I need braces. Why the elaborate testing?
Inside though, I was becoming concerned and afraid to ask. Hanging out in the fog of not understanding their suspicions felt safer or just easier in the moment. The dog sporting a severe underbite was morphing into an ostrich sticking its head in the sand.
So what were they all worked up about while I remained willfully ignorant? Oh, just that I might have a brain tumor.
They verified it with the testing. It was the kind of brain tumor that meanly pumps massive amounts of growth hormone into your system. Oddly, the only body part that can still grow as an adult is the mandible - the lower jaw. Lovely. It also renders you infertile. Oh.
I needed to have the tumor removed from my brain. Right away.
So a date was set - July 7th. The brain surgery could mess me up in all sorts of ways (death, paralysis, etc.) or it could cure me.
I was lucky enough to have the latter outcome.
I was lucky enough to have a brilliant neurosurgeon.
I was lucky enough to have my dentist and oral surgeon catch it in time based on a very obscure symptom.
My mouth was fitted with braces, the tumor removed through my nose!, bone in my jaw removed in a later surgery, and my braces wired together / mouth sealed shut for 6 weeks to allow my jaw bones to heal. Liquids were all I could use for nourishment and writing was the only way to communicate. I didn't care. I was grateful as hell for all of it.
I healed up and was able to get pregnant a short while after. Actually, grateful does not begin to explain how I felt and still feel. But for lack of a better way to express it, I am eternally grateful that my caretakers were educated enough to discover my brain tumor and that my surgeons were skilled enough to fix me up.
I am not alone in what happened to me. Each DAY, 500 people will be diagnosed with a brain tumor. I want to help and support them! I want them to have a shot of the outcome I had!
To show my support, I will be participating in the American Brain Tumor Association’s Team Breakthrough Endurance program and run the Chicago Marathon in its name. Money raised will provide critical funding for brain tumor research and for supportive patient care.
You can support me in my efforts by making a donation to the American Brain Tumor Association. I would be so grateful (that word again) if you did!
Will you please? You would just click on “Donate Now” to donate safely and securely.
Your donation not only supports brain tumor patients and their families, but it also supports the breakthrough research to improve, extend and ultimately save lives.
And remember, your donation is tax-deductible! You can learn more about the American Brain Tumor Association at www.abta.org.
Thank you in advance for your support of my efforts on behalf of brain tumor patients, their families, and the researchers pursuing the breakthroughs!