So what’s going on with you? I’m sorry, that was rhetorical, what with this being a blog post and all. Feel free to answer it in the Comments though!
What I meant to say is, here’s what’s going on with me.
Yup, you guessed it! This is a progress update on Life, the Universe and Everything – specifically as it pertains to one particular idiot living in Perth, Australia.
First: the news! (Hang onto your lunch.)
I considered doing this as a video blog, but chose not to because a) Roo is away metal detecting with her Dad, so I haven’t washed in a week, and b) I’ve broken my jaw in three places, and am currently eating all my meals through a straw.
Wait a minute – how???
Well, because I’m an idiot, I managed to fall over at a party. “But people do that all the time!” I hear you cry. Alas, never one to settle for convention, I did it around 8pm, after just one drink. Amazingly, Roo had been away for less than 12 hours at this point! I also fell over in the garden – which is what makes the damage so impressive…
I told you to hang on to your lunch:
Yes, that IS bone you can see in there! Nine stitches (my first) and two metal plates (ditto) later, I have braces on what’s left of my teeth, and a load of elastic bands holding my jaw shut. If you’re wondering what the mucus-like substance in the picture above is… well, it’s mucus. The hole went all the way through you see, and whilst the bleeding stopped after a couple of hours, saliva from inside my mouth kept dripping out through the hole in my chin. Which is delightful, I’m sure you’ll agree! DAMN that grass…
Silver lining: I can’t talk (Roo will be overjoyed when she gets back!) – and I’ve already lost more than 4kg in my first week of an all-liquid diet…
Now, living in Australia has its perks. One of the most important for me (coming a close third after permanent bikini-weather and free sausage sizzles) – is Medicare. That’s right – much like in the UK, we get free health care over here. The entire procedure – from Roo’s sister carting me into the emergency room with a hand full of my teeth, through surgery and two days in hospital, to the impressive bag full of drugs they sent me home with – cost me nothing.
I even gained a new reader; apparently while coming round from the anaesthetic, I told the nurse I’d been bitten by a crocodile once and she went and looked me up on the internet.
By the way, here’s a phrase no-one ever wants to hear on waking up in hospital: “The facial reconstruction surgeons will be coming to see you shortly.”
I mean if I hadn’t been worried already, I was then! As it turned out, those talented surgeons only needed to fix the split in my jaw bone at the front – which could actually be opened and shut by hand, as one demonstrated to his students. Party trick! Sadly, they also removed three of my teeth, and broke the news that most of the rest were smashed to pieces.
And dentistry, in Australia, is NOT free. And not cheap, either. Cue my worried face – except that’s REALLY hard to do when your jaw is held in place with elastic bands…
Luckily for me, this is where my Guardian Angel enters the story.
Her name is Laura. She’s a long-suffering reader of my books, poor girl. And she is also a top-flight dentist.
About two years ago, I got one of those random messages that come in from time to time. I love hearing from my readers, and I always reply to them. This one was a bit more random than the usual – a lady who lived in Perth, she ran a dental clinic, and said, “If you ever need any work on your teeth, come to me and I’ll do you a good deal!”
Being the vain, image-obsessed creature that I am (no, really! I’m TOTALLY gonna shower before Roo gets home) – I seriously considered getting some dental work done. A lifetime of booze, coffee and adventure sports has left my smile more ‘homeless in Dublin’ than ‘Sleepless in Seattle’.
But I felt a bit weird about asking such a huge favour from someone I’d never met, based solely on the rather flimsy account of her having enjoyed a book I wrote once. Plus, as perennial backpackers, Roo and I were (and are) permanently broke. But flash forward a couple of years, and there I am, lying in a hospital bed while the nurse picks grass from the chasm in my chin. They say pride comes before a fall… I bloody well wish it had come before mine, as it might have cushioned me from the ground a bit. Sadly, I’ve never had an awful lot of pride. You don’t have to work hard to get me to beg! Especially when the sobering prospect of spending the next decade in debt to a dentist rears it’s ugly head…
So I fumbled through my phone and found that old Facebook message.
And then, still in shock, I wrote a long and rambling reply.
Actually I wrote it three times, as my huge and shaking thumbs kept accidentally deleting it.
“Hi!” I said. “You might not remember me… but I’m that idiot that went to Ecuador and got bitten by a crocodile. Anyway, you’ll never guess what just happened…”
And the rest is history.
Or it will be in six month’s time, when the last procedure is over.
I’ll need at least six visits, several new teeth, and pretty much every kind of dental doohickey they make. Plus an angle grinder and a shed-load of superglue…
I honestly couldn’t do it without her.
I mean, I can’t think of a single skill that is less appropriate for DIY than dentistry. Can you?
Roo has now arrived back, and is in disbelief at the sheer amount of damage I have managed to do to myself in the short time she was away. I mean, it’s understandable. I’m quite impressed myself. She has made an executive decision that the next time she goes away for anything longer than a day, I am to be cocooned in bubble-wrap. Because I am clearly not capable of looking after myself.
On the upside, she has also had some interesting ideas about how to cope with an all-liquid diet…
So, you know – it’s not all bad. How’re you?