Monday, December 04, 2006

Lock Down

Mike may finally get his Christmas wish this year. No, not trading me in for Scarlett Johansson. No, he may just get some long-hoped-for peace and quiet. From me, anyway.

See, over the weekend, somewhere between taking the kids to the Museum of Natural History and the tree in Rockefeller Center on Saturday, and Christmas shopping on Sunday, I came down with lockjaw.

Before you worry that I contracted tetanus by brushing up against a rusty barbed wire fence while chasing a pheasant for Sunday dinner (as I often do), that's not how this happened. I have a bite problem called TMJ dysfunction. And I'm not supposed to chew gum, eat bagels or snack on pumpkin seeds. But c'mon. Who really listens to a doctor anymore? That's so yesterday.

I have an occasional bagel. Pumpkin seeds, not so much. But I like chewing gum. Normally, I chew gum in lieu of snacking. Or if I'm thirsty and don't have a water bottle on me. Or if I need to concentrate for work. Or, and this is a biggie, if I've eaten a head of raw garlic for breakfast. I enjoy it with coffee. Or with a glass of wine (Orbit Wintermint with a glass of white wine. Now there's a sparkling taste sensation for ya). I suppose it's like a cigarette habit, only less disgusting so long as I don't spit the gum into my palm before giving a handshake.

Anyway, I woke up Saturday and my jaw was locked on the right side.

Even though it took me 45 minutes to eat a bowl of cereal, I thought, "No prob. We'll just go to the city as planned and it'll fix itself." People go to school for a long time to achieve that kind of medical insight. Cut to us eating lunch at the museum and there's me with a strawberry yogurt, trying to macerate the heretofore unnoticed chewy berries, without moving my mouth.

We continued on to the special gold exhibit, and an Imax movie about cowboys, which kept Ryan entertained enough that he stopped trying to talk to me for half an hour, giving my tired jaw a break. Then we took the C train down to see the Christmas tree. We were met with a massive amount of humanity, and I was grateful we all escaped without a cracked rib incident.

By then, everyone was getting hungry so we walked to John's Pizza in Times Square. Never does a thin-crust slice seem so monumental as when you can't open your mouth. Who knew?

I went to bed thinking I just needed a good night's sleep and my jaw would fix itself. It was a sad hope that I was clinging to. Because Sunday came and both sides of my jaw had become stuck. As of right now, I can only open my mouth about a half-inch.

And if I had any sense, I'd hang on to this condition until after the holiday calorie explosion.

Catherine Schetting Salfino

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