Side Effects and Self-Medicating – a cautionary tale

I remind my kids, pretty much daily, that the hospital is closed. It’s not, of course, but it is the absolute last place I want to go right now…after Costco.  But the little angels won’t stop trying to hurt themselves. So I keep yelling. “Yes, you have to wear a helmet, the hospital is closed.” “No, you cannot bring your Nerf guns onto the roof, the hospital is closed.” “Those are NOT throwing knives and you are NOT in a circus – FFS, people, the HOSPITAL IS CLOSED.”

We live about six blocks from an excellent trauma center. That used to make me feel pretty secure about all the tree-climbing and skateboard tricks. Not anymore.

About a week into this thing, when everything was already as fine as a dumpster fire and my stress level was somewhere between “teaching a teenager how to drive” and “hiding under a desk in case of nuclear war,” I managed to dislocate my jaw trying to eat a banh-mi.

Seriously. I was just talking, eating lunch, Facebooking when I bit down into that crispy, savory bit of comfort food and POP! A sharp pain jolted through me from mouth to manicure. I tried to chew. I massaged my face. I tried to chew again. Shit.

I could not close my mouth. Or, I could close it, but wrong. The teeth were all on the wrong side of each other. I was just, ever so slightly lopsided in the head. I looked over at the engineer, working from home at the same table. If I told him, I thought, he’d make me go to the hospital.

So I didn’t tell him. For a while. When dinner came along, I still couldn’t eat. Also, half my face was a bit numb. “My jaw kinda hurts,” I said.

“You want a Negroni?” he asked.

“Yes. I absolutely do.”

I could still drink! Who needs food when you have gin? I finally told him about the jaw just after we put the kids to bed and I figured it was too late to make me go seek medical care. He shook his head at me.

“I just think,” I said, “that I need to relax. I’m sure it’ll be back to normal tomorrow. I just wish I had, like, a muscle relaxer or something.”

That’s when I remembered the edibles. There were a couple of THC laced gummy bears that lived in a jar at the back of a high shelf like last year’s Easter candy. A forgotten remnant of an old house guest from a less liberal state.

“I could try the edible,” I said.

The engineer had his doubts, but I knew for a fact that THC was medicine because I did a paper on it in high school. Also, because I did THC in high school, when you still had to separate the medicine part from the seeds and stems and it all smelled vaguely like gasoline. So I scrounged around in the cabinets until I found the thing. Because I’m a naturally cautious person, I only took half. I took the other half about twenty minutes later when I decided it wasn’t working because it was too old.

That was a mistake.

I realized this when I began to levitate off the couch and suggested watching some old Adam Sandler movies.

I read the back of the innocent looking packaging. “Wait 90 minutes for full potency.” Huh. Medicine comes with instructions now?

The remaining gummy bears in the jar high-fived and cackled. “That’s for eating Marvin, you square!”

“Oh shit.” I thought.

“Put Happy Gilmore back on…” A yellow gummy bear demanded flatly.

Some people find cannabis relaxing. I am not one of those people. I lean hard into deep, dark paranoia.

I could feel every tooth in my head. And a few extras. None of them were fitting together properly. One side of my face felt numb. I probably had a blood clot.

“My face is broken,” I moaned. “Mah faish ish bro-hen!”

I couldn’t focus on the movie so I grabbed my laptop and did the only reasonable thing; I Googled dislocated jaw. Somewhere in there, I found some great instructions for a manual reduction of the jaw. I didn’t tell the engineer because I knew he wouldn’t understand my brilliance. He’d try to stop me. I waited, reading and re-reading the instructions. Absorbing the shifting illustrations.

As soon as the engineer left the couch to fix his broken drink, I jammed my thumbs under my jaw, like the picture showed, and attempted a little lift and slip move. There was a click! I tried to close my mouth, which felt like it was entirely jammed with so many extra teeth. Like all my baby teeth had come back in all at once.

I’d over-corrected.

The gummy bears craned their necks in curiosity and shared a knowing nod. I made a mental note to throw the tiny Grateful Dead show in the trash the next time I got up.

My face was now entirely lopsided in the other direction. The engineer came back.

“What are you doing?” he asked, suspiciously.




He stared at me for a moment. “Do you need another drink?”


He left. I tried again. Smaller movement. “Come on,” I mentally encouraged my jaw, “just go to your home! Are you too good for your home!?” Smaller click. My mouth closed. Mostly. I was still pretty sure I’d have to see a dentist and a chiropractor the next day, but I could close my mouth like a person! My face was still a bit numb and my teeth still felt a little extra. Also, my skin was all tingly and gravity wasn’t behaving appropriately.

The engineer came back with our drinks. We clinked. We sipped. I was giddy. I had won at medicine! I poked at my numb cheeks. Maybe I should give the whole reduction thing one more try? I stood up abruptly, spilling everything everywhere.

“I think I should go to bed before I try to relocate my jaw anymore,” I announced with great pride.

“I’m sorry, what?”

“G’night, my love!”

And that’s basically the whole story of how I broke my face eating a sandwich. I have noticed an interesting uptick in stupid injuries since the start of covid-spring, in my house and in the wild. A friend stepped on her rake (less funny in real life), my mom tripped off a curb, and another friend’s kid damn near cracked his skull open. Is this a common side effect of quarantine? How are things with y’all? Self-medicating much?

3 thoughts on “Side Effects and Self-Medicating – a cautionary tale

  1. Funny post! I have a daredevil toddler who is constantly looking for new ways to end up in the ER too which is also not an option right now. Thanks for the laugh!

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