Actually, I used fingernail clippers….

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I became a registered donor of bone marrow yesterday. I’m not quite sure what that all entails. I have heard that is a painful procedure; a painful recovery.

I get it though; I understand.

There is a flip side; not just that view.

A woman, an old neighbor of mine for a few years while I was growing up, has been diagnosed with a rare form of Leukemia. She needs a bone marrow transplant.

Her daughter is pleading.
Her daughter is desperate.

I understand this. I lost a Mom to a rare disease. I get it. I volunteered for a mouth swab.

I went to talk to her as I sealed my envelope that contained my cheek swab.

I gave her a hug. From there we started chatting. Her husband sat next to her on one side. There were two people on the other side. I think they were relatives of hers, but I’m not sure.
She asked me about my kids. From there the conversation shifted. She remembered and brought up the braces story. She started explaining to the people sitting next to her.

I didn’t realize how far that story had spread.

For some reason, this story has occasionally made people’s mouths drop in shock.

As she was telling the story, she paused, looked at me and asked, “With wire cutters?”

Actually, no I didn’t have wire cutters.

When I was 15, I removed my braces myself with fingernail clippers.

My family loves to tell this story; too often. It is usually a one sided story.

There was a lot of confusion in my life at 15.

At 15, I left New York and went to live in Virginia.
Virginia meant no orthodontist appointments. I knew this going into it. I had contemplated this.
I thought about this before I left; when they gave me that choice.
I knew what that meant. I knew because I was familiar with braces by this point. I had had them on for about a year.

If you knew me when I was little, you would know that I had very crooked teeth.

I was a thumb sucker; for a long time. I carried a blanket too. I used to roll up the corners of the satin edges of the blanket and stick a rolled corner up my nose; and suck my thumb. I found comfort where I could; it wasn’t always pretty.

I said goodbye to my blanket long before I said goodbye to my thumb. My thumb unfortunately made an impression on my teeth; this is why I needed braces.

I took a giant risk with my teeth. I know this. My teeth have held up very well; I am thankful for this.

I was down in Virginia. I had just gotten there. I was scared as hell. I didn’t know what this would entail. I knew what it was like last time I lived with him. I didn’t trust him.
But the truth is I didn’t trust where I had just come from either.

So I gave it another chance. I didn’t know what else to do, honestly.

I think it was my first week there.
I had met the neighbors across the street. They had small children. We introduced ourselves. I had babysat back in New York. They hired me.

It was late at night. Their children were sleeping. I was bored.
I remembered my braces dilemma; no orthodontist in Virginia.

I knew they weren’t covered by insurance. Even back then, they weren’t cheap.

I knew the situation; the reality.

I went into their bathroom. I opened their medicine cabinet. I saw the fingernail clippers. I found peroxide.

I was very careful not to touch my mouth with those clippers.

I clipped the wires first.

This was actually more difficult than I anticipated. I didn’t realize then that the Ortho had wrapped the wires around the back molars; special brackets that engulfed my back teeth.
The wire got stuck at one point. It was awkward. I tried looking in the mirror to see which direction the wire spun around.
Once I got the wires removed, I started pinching and pulling at the brackets glued to my teeth.
When I got to the back molars, I forgot that they wrapped around the tooth. The first one hurt because I tried to yank it off. I only made that mistake once.
The worst part was the glue. I couldn’t leave the glue on there. I found a brand new nail file. I filed the glue off my teeth.

I smiled at my old neighbor when she asked if I used wire cutters and answered her question, “Actually, I used fingernail clippers”.

© LifeasChristine, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to LifeasChristine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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One thought on “Actually, I used fingernail clippers….

  1. David R. Steindorf says:

    I provide clinical services to patients with leukemia / lymphoma. Many have survived because of bone marrow donators like you. Check out the fantastic blog titled A Life Interrupted on the NY Times website. And suggest to your neighbor the ACS’s Hope Club; awesome support groups!

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