My fall happened on September 8, 2022. I know that, when I finally got back up on my feet, it was 12:33 AM. I can already hear some (or all) of you questioning why I didn’t go to the hospital immediately. Well, here’s my reasoning: I didn’t feel comfortable calling the ambulance because it wasn’t a life-or-death situation. I was also thinking ahead about how I would find a way back home after I’d been released from the hospital. I have a bestie who would have come and gotten me, but…. she wouldn’t know I needed her until she got up, made her coffee and sat down in the living room to check her phone (where she keeps it to charge overnight). And, because I still struggle with asking for help, putting her out like that when she needed to shower and get ready for work made me feel awkward. I considered driving myself to the hospital, which isn’t very far and would have taken me less about 10 minutes. But, because I’d hit my head so hard, I wondered if I might have a concussion and didn’t think getting behind the wheel of a vehicle would be a smart move. So, I ended up just sitting upright with the ice pack covering the whole left side of my face.
As I mentioned, I had a type of pain that I’d never experienced before, but, while the goose egg remained in place, the pain on the rest of my face began to subside in under 72 hours. Proud of the fact that I’d worked through the pain on my own (I have a low tolerance for pain), I figured I’d made it through the worst.
On Saturday morning, I noticed some bruising on my face as a result of my fall. I took a selfie of it so I could send it via text to my bestie. I ended up taking a selfie every day for about two weeks as a way of tracking the bruising, which got a lot worse before it got better.
I was surprised to see the bruising occurring along my jawline (not to mention the black eye that came with it!). As I said, I’d only hit my head, but as I was pretty much pain-free after about 5 days, I just didn’t think about it being anything serious. I already had a regular follow-up appointment with my doc for September 29th (exactly 3 weeks after the date of my fall) and figured I’d tell her about it if I still had some concerns.
In my opinion, the worst of the bruising looked like this:
By the time I went to that appointment, most of the bruising had faded away, the ostrich egg sized bump on my forehead had reduced to a chicken sized egg bump, and I wasn’t taking OTC pain meds of any kind on a regular timeframe. My only concern was that I had what felt like a bone jutting down from my jawline as if it had been misplaced. After examining me, she suggested I get x-rays. Fortunately, there is an outpatient clinic literally right across the highway from the doctor’s office, so I went right over. I didn’t have much of a wait once I registered. X-rays were taken and I was on my way.
I have no idea how to read an x-ray, and in my lack of ability, I can’t see a single thing that shows a broken jaw, but here’s one of the five x-rays taken:
Friday morning, I got a call from the doc’s office telling me that my jawbone was broken in two places and also displaced. I needed to see an oral surgeon for further treatment.
And so, I began the often-frustrating task of finding an oral surgeon who takes my Medicare plan, once I had determined what my plan would and wouldn’t cover of the cost (fortunately, it was 100%!). It took what seemed like hours – first, calling the insurance company to find out if there was coverage for this kind of specialist and if I had a copay involved. Having learned that the answers were yes and no, I began the search. The closest one I could find was less than 15 minutes away from me; the next closest was about 25 minutes away.
Of course, being a “new” patient, I couldn’t get an appointment until October 13th. Again, having no pain and no longer having any bruising, I didn’t have a problem waiting another 2 weeks. Meanwhile, because I have access to my records from St. Luke’s – my preferred provider – I managed to copy all 4 x-rays onto a flash drive in order to make this appointment go smoother.
The office was willing to take the printed copy of the reading of the x-rays, but I was told they wanted to take their own x-ray, which was just one. I was led to an exam room, and about10 minutes later, Dr. Wallis (he introduced himself) came in for my exam. He took a quick look inside my mouth, took a good look at the x-ray that had been taken in the office, and informed me that they couldn’t treat me. Huh??? I apparently had to go through OMS, which is (fortunately) St. Luke’s division specifically to treat the kind of breakage I had. He gave me a paper with a central phone number and the four offices within the county where I could be seen. I was befuddled, to say the least, because this was an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery office I was sitting in and this Dr. is telling me they can’t perform oral and/or maxillofacial surgery on me. So, I took my flash drive, a copy of the x-ray they had taken, and a paper that gave me all of the information I needed for the OMS division of St. Luke’s. Since my appointment was at 2:15 PM and, in my opinion, a total waste of my time, I took the copy of the x-ray and the paper printed with information about OMS and left there feeling frustrated.