I'm not really sure how to begin. A few weeks back I was on twitter mentioning that I had blown my left jaw disc and that I knew it was serious because I couldn't even chew a cupcake (Yes, I measure my life in cupcake eating... doesn't everyone?), and a few minutes later a friend was talking about a charity anthology featuring short stories written by crime fighters. Then people started tweeting title ideas and talking about story themes- I vaguely remember a book cover idea being tossed around the twitters. And before I could catch up on the twitter feed... Feeding Kate was born. Honestly, I thought this was just a lively, fun conversation on twitter and never realized that so many people had stepped up to participate in the project. And I was beyond surprised when Laura Curtis told me the project was actually real.
*To learn more about Feeding Kate and the talented authors behind it click HERE!
Since the campaign started last week some people have been asking how I injured my jaw so I thought I’d share the
story with ya’ll. It’s kind of a comical story… mixed with some drama and a
drunk driver. There’s even a death.
My life... reads like fiction.
It all started in 1994 when I was working at the Burger King located on Newmark
Street in Coos Bay, Oregon. I was a college student- working my way through
school, taking care of my father after heart surgery, and frying up some crispy
fries on the side.
A little embarrassed at my job, I used my hearing impairment to avoid
working the front counter by claiming I couldn't hear the orders properly and
telling the manager it would be in the best interest of the customer if they
had a more "reliable" employee to work with. You know... one that
could hear. They didn't believe me at first, probably figured I was lying. But
a few steady... "What was that?" later... and my butt was firmly
planted in the kitchen. *grins*
FACT: I developed hearing problems in my left ear after a shotgun incident
in my early childhood. In large crowds you’ll often find me turning my head
when I’m being spoken to. It’s usually because people are talking into my bad
ear. But it’s not like I wear a sign with instructions on how to speak to me so
turning my head usually helps to avoid all of those, “I’m sorry. What was
So, where was I? Oh, yeah.
I was tossed into the kitchen and soon became the Queen of the WHOPPER. Hey,
now. Don't laugh at me. My skills were mad, bro. My WHOPPERS were large and juicy,
and always served with the best tomatoes in the batch. My mayonnaise was spread
evenly across the bun, the onions were always the perfect thickness; the lettuce
never wilted. You see, I mastered the art of
WHOPPER making, people. So much so that it landed me the title of Employee of
the Month. My name… forever listed on the wall inside the Burger King on
Newmark Street. *bows graciously to
But I didn’t just master my station. I was a master on the fryer, a master
at food prep, and a master while serving time on the chicken counter. And it was my multitasking, master, madness
skills that got me into trouble. A call for help from the french fry guy during
a rush one night had me dashing to the walk in freezer for some bags of the
good stuff. I stepped in and the fries
came tumbling down… in boxes. Yep, more than one. Seems that *somebody* stacked the boxes above
regulation height and with no advanced warning for the Queen of the WHOPPER…
they tumbled over and I took a heavy box of frozen fries to the left side of my
face. I was done eating by the end of
the night, on a liquid diet by morning, and battling BK’s worker’s compensation
plan by the end of the week.
It was a battle that would last three years.
Not sure why it took so long… I’m sure BK thought I’d drop the claim, but I
didn’t. And of course by the time they approved the surgery I was engaged to be
married. In fact, my wedding was just a few weeks away. So it really wasn’t a
surprise when the company called me and told me that their deadline for my
procedure was a week before the big day. Fearing black eyes and stitches in my
wedding photos, the company graciously allowed me to have the surgery a week
AFTER the wedding. *sigh*
The surgery was a success (thank goodness), and I went on my married little
way perfectly content until… the early morning hours of December 8, 1998 (exactly
one year and a day after surgery) when I was hit by a drunk driver on my way to
work. The impact was so great that it dislodged the newly created discs in my
jaw joints, and after another long fight (this time with our car insurance) I
was scheduled for another jaw procedure. Unfortunately, there were complications
with the second procedure (think missing facial tissue and fracture pins and a
doctor that refuses to see you again)… and from there we have a lawsuit, a dead
attorney, and a third procedure to correct damage and to help restore joint
function so I could eat again. It was another
successful procedure, one that would keep my jaw in working order for over eight
I was sitting with my spouse on a beautiful Saturday afternoon about four
weeks ago preparing for a day of bike shopping when I bit into a very yummy
sandwich and painfully felt my left jaw disc fall apart. There was a horrendous
noise full of cracking and creaking and one pretty sharp, POP! The pain was
pretty intense and I was on soft food by that evening and dreading another
visit with my jaw surgeon by morning. And
that’s the story behind my jaw injury and my need for surgery.
Some people think I’m cursed… I like to think I'm special. =)
Honestly, the last thing on my mind was our insurance coverage. The jaw
procedure I need has been covered at 90% for the last several years. But this
year we changed providers, and with that change came a specific exclusion of
coverage for the procedure. Normally my first concern when reviewing yearly health
benefits is TMJ coverage (jaw joint treatment and surgery). Makes sense, since that’s been the biggest
health annoyance for me for so many years. But, as many of you know, I have
Lupus, and as my Lupus has advanced over the last few months my medical
concerns have shifted. The first thing I researched regarding my coverage this
year were hospital facilities, physicians, and dialysis centers since my Lupus
has moved up on my list of priorities. Learning about the lack of coverage for
my jaw was very disappointing.
Yes, the procedure is on the exclusion list, but to me an exclusion just means I
need to make the insurance carrier work a little harder in denying my
claim. So even with the procedure
specifically excluded as a benefit I still plan to ask for preauthorization for
the surgery. I expect my request to be
denied, and from there I will follow the process to appeal the decision. After
so many denials I’ll be allowed to meet with administrators overseeing the claim,
and I’m hoping that my past history (an acute injury- car accident-
botched procedure by one of their very own preferred providers) and my
sparkling personality will encourage the administrators to reconsider my claim.
Prior obligations and the recovery process (6 – 8 weeks) require some
planning, so I’m currently shooting for November to have the procedure done. In the meantime, I wish to thank all of you for
your love, kindness, and support. I have no words to express my gratitude, and
no way to say thank you and have you know how heartfelt it is. The contributors
to this anthology are all people that I admire and love, and their willingness
to work together on this is truly inspiring. I’m humbled by the
generosity shown by all of you. I’m truly overwhelmed by all of this, and I’m afraid I’ll never truly find the right words to thank you.
So, thank you… so very, very much.