July 1992: The summer before my junior year of high school, I was in a very bad bicycle accident. I’m not sure exactly what happened, but the gist of it is I was riding down a curve in the middle of town, and my bicycle’s front tire seized up. It stopped, I didn’t. I literally bit the pavement, knocked out my left front tooth, chipped the incisor next to it, and broke the right front tooth. I had bad road rash on all my joints and almost half of my face. Thanks to some family friends in a car behind us and my sister’s quick thinking, we made it to the ER in record time as I needed my lip stitched up (where the tooth came out) and the gravel cleaned out of, well, everywhere. Our family dentist then met us at his office, did a root canal on the detached tooth (thanks to my sis for finding it and holding it in her hand the entire time), put it back in my face to keep the placeholder and plan an implant later, and created makeshift wire braces to hold the tooth in place and align the broken one. Surprising the dentist, I wound up keeping all my teeth, though they’ve been crooked ever since. Additionally, I’d just been appointed as the drum major, and as a 16 year old kid with all this damage to my face, I was mortified at having to stand on a podium in front of all my closest friends in a few weeks.

June 7, 2023 (last night), I played clarinet in a concert band performance I’ve done for at least the past 12 years. This same group is slated to play at Midwest Band Clinic in December. While playing clarinet isn’t part of my actual career anymore, it’s something I’ve loved doing since the 5th grade. I definitely feel a difference in my well-being and even my mental health when I get time on the clarinet, especially in musical groups.

June 8, 2023 (today), I have an appointment to start talking about removal and implants for these two front teeth. It’s been a long time coming, and as of my last checkup it’s finally here. I’m not looking forward to starting this process.

The timing and irony of playing clarinet the night before planning a very long break from it are not lost on me. I’m scared, I’m sad, but I’m also optimistic. My sis is again involved in helping with this process, and I’ve got a great dentist who’s been working with me and watching my teeth over the past many years.

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