Bracing for Life (Update #28)

Photo by Carrie

I got braces a couple weeks ago. I still can’t quite wrap my head around it. 

I’ve known I needed them for years. I was in the midst of treatment for TMJ when I got diagnosed with lung cancer and my TMJ doc dropped me like a hot potato, figuring I was a goner. It was hard to disagree, so I gave up on the treatment. It seemed most practical to just limp along with my ancient nightguard until I was buried with it. How could I think of investing the time and money into correcting such a problem when I might only have months to live? 

I couldn’t. For many years, facing my mortality in 3 month scan increments had a way of training me not to invest too much into anything that I couldn’t reap the rewards from in 12 weeks or less. Fabulous travel on the nearer term? – fantastic! Art classes that I could take over a period of several months? – maybe. Braces that cost thousands, take a year+ and benefit me and only me? – absolutely not. 

The average person makes so many investments to benefit their future selves. Education. Seeing the dentist. Buying a car. But when staring down a terminal illness, the calculus shifts dramatically. Yet somehow, as the months and years of relative stability have ticked by for me, they’ve also chipped away at my reticence to invest in myself, to believe I’m still worth investing in. 

I’ve gotten to do some amazing things post diagnosis, but I think perhaps the boldest thing I have done may also be amongst the most mundane: Braces. Who knew they could be so incredibly life affirming? 


*Update #28: I was a little concerned I’d tempted the fates, getting the braces. This was the first round of scans I’ve done with my Invisalign trays in (bonus: they’re CT and MRI compatible!). I’m happy to report that my scans last week show continued stability.