Many people who know me well know that one of my biggest fears is falling and breaking a tooth. I hate running at night in dark places where it would be easy to trip and fall. The truth is, I've tripped and fallen plenty of times when it's not dark out, and if I were to do that at night I'm just sure I would fall right on my face and break a tooth.
Well, two weeks ago, I faced that fear... head on. Literally.
It was Friday afternoon. The work week was over and I was headed home. The weekend had finally begun. We had big plans for the weekend. We were celebrating my 30th birthday that night with friends. And we were invited to a fun dinner party the next night.
I hopped on my bike, looking forward to a nice 11 mile ride home from my work in Tigard. It was beautiful out and I was excited to be outdoors after a day in the office. I made it all the way downtown, and on Harrison St a public transportation bus pulled over to pick some people up and was therefore blocking the bike lane. I decided I might as well go around it. I was very aware that there were street car rails in the left lane and told myself I needed to make sure to go across them perpendicularly. But I wasn't quick enough (or maybe I was too quick) and my front tire went right in the rail. My bike flopped over and I fell face first onto the street. I hit hard, and the first thing I did was run my tongue across my teeth. And I immediately new it: I had broken my tooth. My right front tooth (#8) had a big chunk missing. I pulled my bike off the road quickly, thankful no other cars, buses or trains were coming at me. My shoulder and knee were banged up, my wrist was hurting, and my lip was busted. and bleeding. The worst thing was, there were three people at the median bus stop that I hobbled up to... and no one said a word. To the girl who just ate it and was spitting blood... not a word.
I walked my bike across the other side of the street where I could lay it, and myself, in the grass. I called Chris, who was thankfully working in Portland that day and was home, and he was there to pick me up in about 8 minutes. We loaded my bike in the back of the car and called our insurance company (neither of us have established care with a dentist in Portland). They told us where the nearest dental clinic was, we started driving there, and by the time we got there 10 minutes later, the doctor was ready to see me. Within two hours of my accident, my tooth was fixed (they did a filling) and I was home with my smile back (well almost - I still had the busted lip thing). And get this, the dental assistant who worked on me was a volunteer with our mobile dental program who I email often.
Sadly we had to cancel my birthday party that night, and we didn't make it to the dinner party on Saturday night. When Chris sent an email telling people what had happened, several responded "oh no, that's her worst fear!" They know me too well.
I've biked home from work twice since then (much to a few people's chagrin), and have been an even more cautious biker. So whether I like it or not (and I definitely don't like it), I can now say I conquered that fear. And I hope I never have to face it again.
right after the accident :(
right after the dentist :)
I now know what it's like to break a tooth, and to have a partially fake tooth for the rest of my life. And guess what... life goes on, perfect teeth or not! Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." While we can't live life irresponsibly or recklessly, we also can't live life in fear. Be bold, be brave, do what you love.