Help Dustin Harbin Fix His Smashed-Up Face
I was recently in a bicycle accident which resulted in me landing--by all evidence, directly on the mouth--face first on the asphalt. I'm not sure what happened, because the fall was hard enough to erase my memory of it occurring. I just woke up in a pool of blood and teeth, and into a long period of healing and reconstruction.
The major injuries I sustained were almost entirely to my face: my upper maxillary bone (basically my upper jaw) was completely detached from my skull, necessitating surgery to reattach. My bridge--basically my two front upper teeth--was knocked completely out, and one lower tooth was knocked out, with a second likely to follow in the coming weeks.
(above: the day after surgery)
The good news: I am fine. I am alive, I'm not blinded, no apparent brain damage, and as of this writing, with my stitches out and the nerve pain in my hands and elbows down to manageable levels, you wouldn't know I'd been hurt unless I opened my mouth or tried to speak. I'm on a liquid diet for six weeks while my bones knit back together, but a small army of close friends have filled my house with blenders and smoothie supplies and love and kindness, so on that front I'm doing well.
Getting teeth replaced is not easy, and walking around with a big gap in your face while you figure out what to do is no fun, but it's doable. I've done it before, in fact: the reason I had a bridge in the first place is knocking my front teeth out when I was 13, in almost exactly the same way. Bicycles are canceled for me.
But paying for it... it's going to be a lot. I, like many artists, have no insurance, not to mention no money, no savings, et cetera. I just looked at the bill from the hospital, and it's blood-curdlingly large. But the immediate bills I need to prepare for are the dentist and oral surgeon. Costs include oral surgery, reconstruction, and followups, bridge replacement, and replacing 1-2 teeth entirely. I'm not sure what this will total up to, but I'm guessing more--maybe much more--than $25,000, so I'm starting there.
(above: me in the hospital trying to be stoic)
It irks me to no end to have to go hat-in-hand to pay for these injuries. The profession I've chosen is not great for emergencies. And I know that many of us need help, and many people will have better reasons for that need than I do. But if you can donate any amount, large or small, I will appreciate it very much. If you know me at all, you know that losing teeth is a big deal for me, and looking at this straight-on is incredibly uncomfortable. But as they say--can't go around it, gotta go through it.
In the meantime, so you know, here's how I'm doing: much better than you think (judging from the worried notes I'm still getting). My face is still numb and slightly puffy where the little plates/brackets/barrettes are holding the bones together while they knit. I'm not in much pain besides annoying small pain from my lip and lower teeth, one of which is most likely dying and another one is just a chunk of root stuck in there stubbornly. But it's Ibuprofen-level pain, not like, opiate pain. It mainly hurts when I talk for very long or smile at all--so I'm learning to avoid anything that might make me surprise laugh.
In terms of treatment, I saw the oral surgeon last Wednesday, who seemed to think I was healing well, no infection, et cetera. He took the stitches out of my lip and told me I'd need to massage it in order to break up the scar tissue. Sure enough, the next day the whole thing started to tighten up like crazy, so now it's even harder than ever to make "F" sounds. Also B--calling my dog "Beans" just sounds like me lisping Eans! Eans! over and over again. I had my first appointment with the dentist and we talked over the different options. It sounds like I'm going to lose a second tooth on the bottom, adjacent to the one that's broken off at the root. And most likely the other two smaller front teeth, in order to replace all four with a bridge. Plus a new bridge for the upper two. So in a little over a week I'm going in to turn my face into a big gap for two weeks while the extractions heal, before they can fit with with the bridges. Whew! That's on my mind quite a lot, but it sounds like the best combination of affordability/predictability/healing time. Implants cost more than twice as much per tooth as a bridge, and it's a much more complicated healing process. Having my teeth in limbo is almost as unsettling as worrying that my upper jaw will come loose again, so I'm opting for surety. The dentist seems to think that's the best path too, and she went to college, so I'm forced to agree.
Anyway. Just wanted to let people know what was up, and to say again thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you for your kindness, your consideration, your many messages, and for making a dumb idiot who fell off his bike feel like a valuable part of his community despite it all. ♥♥♥
On the advice of numerous people I'm upping the goal to reflect the emergency room/hospital bill. I didn't do this initially because, frankly, it seemed like too much. And most likely still is. But after paying for new teeth and the reconstruction surgery, this bill will still be there lurking in the background, so might as well fold it in while I can. This whole thing has been a commercial for a) having insurance, and b) how ridiculous insurance has made all of these costs. But we'll leave those problems for another day--no one wants to hear me bloviate while my face is still swollen and lispy.