5 Things Nobody Tells You About Getting Punched in the Face

My story is as simple as it is stupid: I was sitting on a park bench when a nicely dressed, chubby boy of about 13 popped in front of me and asked if I had the time. Hey, sure. I'm all for helping out a youngster who strives for punctuality. But as soon as I looked down at my phone, he grabbed for it. I didn't really comprehend what was happening and, because I am a big moron, didn't let go of it right away. So to separate me from this crappy 2-year-old gadget, he promptly punched me square in the face.

The shit show that followed made me realize that movies are actually just sacks filled with lies about what it's like to get punched. Had Road House been any reflection of reality, the entire cast would have been dead or slurring their lines through wires and bloody tooth nubs 15 minutes into the picture.

Here's the punching reality I got instead ...

#5. You May Not Just Shake It Off and Walk Away

Nicholas Piccillo/iStock/Getty Images

How much damage could a little fat kid do? Turns out plenty. Since I didn't get knocked out, I assumed I'd just spring back like Adam Sandler after his Bob Barker beating. And if there was some swelling, well, perhaps I'd tease the local raccoons with a raw sirloin comically draped across my mouth. Because I'm a jerk to woodland creatures that way.

A quick check in the bathroom mirror disabused me of the notion that I was going to be Happy Gilmore. It looked like Predator had stopped over at my place to take a whiz. My lower jaw was hanging in two different directions and most of my lower teeth looked like they were gone.

20th Century Fox
Unfortunately, getting punched in the face does not give you powers of invisibility.

This was not a waggle-daggle your head and get back to regular business scenario. This was 911 stuff. I no longer had a phone, so the nice lady next door won the blood-spitting-smashed-face-neighbor surprise doorbell lottery.

After 18 hours in the ER, I got good news -- all my teeth were intact (well, for now -- more about that later) -- and bad news -- my lower jaw and left cheek were "interestingly" fractured. My mouth was going to be wired shut. FOR 10 WEEKS.

Anita Serwacki
"The things we did last summer, I'll remember all winter long ..." (actual X-ray!)

As it turns out, I was pretty fortunate I didn't get killed. All the ridiculous "knock-out game" hysteria aside, one solid punch can easily be fatal.

While not common, a mandibular fracture (fancy talk for broken jaw that makes you sound like a violated insect) can lead to a lacerated facial artery. "The whole inside of your mouth and throat would have filled with blood," my oral surgeon creep-cheerfully informed me. But normally when people do die after getting socked in the jaw, it's because they're standing up, then take a spill and crack their skull open on something. Same goes for being walloped in the nose (despite the myths, you're not in danger of having bone shards lodged in your brain from a nose punch). So, for once, sitting on my ass did me a solid.

#4. There Are Real Dangers to Having Your Jaw Wired

Anita Serwacki

There are no real hi-tech alternatives to having your jaw wired shut. It's a multi-hour process that involves what looks like an American Horror Story tool kit and coils of industrial metal that are wound through your teeth and twisted off at the ends like barbed wire.

Primary Surgery
"At this point, the patient may begin screaming in agony. This is normal."

Hospitals don't tend to carry "So We Just Sealed Up Your Mouth Like Some Kind of Goddamn Horror Movie. Now What?" pamphlets. In fact, they don't really give you any information at all on how to go on being a living human being. Luckily (at least for me, not for them) I have a few friends who have had their jaws wired up for significant spells, so I was given some advice.

Your mouth will taste like corpse, because all the blood that gushed about after you got punched in the face is still tucked into the crevices, just stinking it up in there under a thick layer of plaque build-up. And in the midst of that cauldron of gross, you're crammed full of barbed wire that is constantly slicing open the insides of your cheeks. You can't really brush your teeth, so the best chance you have at not developing scores of new cavities and nasty infections (which could even lead to having parts of your jaw removed!) is to blast a Waterpik filled with the strongest mouthwash you can tolerate, then cram tons of orthodontic wax in there.

Keith Brofsky/Stockbyte/Getty Images
And, at least once a week, jam a sandblaster in there to clean up anything you might have missed.

What if you start to choke or puke? Good question! You will need to get those wires off in a hurry, so you will not die in a manner your family will be reluctant to print in an obituary. A small, sharp pair of jewelry wire-cutting scissors should remain on you at all times like a talisman.

And while not technically dangerous, there's one last thing you don't expect. A complex set of muscles in your upper jaw do not get used at all when your mouth is wired. These muscles will take this opportunity to become lazy and useless. The atrophy will cause your face to slide down your bones till you begin to resemble some kind of jowly Dick Tracy villain.

Touchstone Pictures
If I ever see that fat kid again, he's going under a freaking bus.

#3. You Will Want to Punch Soup in the Figurative Face

Howard Shooter/Dorling Kindersley RF/Getty Images

There are sadder words than "all liquid diet" -- like, "everyone you love was mauled by bears" -- but not when contemplating what you'll be sucking through straws for two and a half months. "Liquid" doesn't exactly have a broad spectrum, either.

During my first week I kept staring at a Shepherd's pie in my freezer because I WAS SO FUCKING HUNGRY. Then I thought, "Screw it." I was going to figure out a way to eat it. I heated the pie up and pureed it with a whole bunch of broth. It looked like a pile of dog vomit, but I had never wanted to eat something so badly in my life. Well ... too bad. No matter how hard I tried, the goo just mucked up on the front of that tooth fortress like sewer sludge. I worked on it for two hours before broken-heartedly tossing it in the garbage and then setting the entire world on fire in my mind.

Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Sadly, the only things that are going to keep you alive are: gross-ass nutrition drinks, protein powder, fancy juices, and pureed soups. A blender stick will be your goddamn frenemy.

Everyone says, "Oh, but at least you'll lose weight!" And you do. But not nearly what you'd imagine and/or hope. After not seeing me for two months, many of my friends thought I'd be some kind of walking skeleton. But I just looked like I'd maybe had the flu for a week. Why? BECAUSE I WAS ALWAYS FUCKING HUNGRY. You can easily be sucking down 3,000 calories a day while not otherwise physically moving your body because you're too exhausted from various vitamin and mineral deficiencies. And it's not like you're ever going to say to yourself, "Well, maybe I shouldn't have that seventh bowl of soup ..."

Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images
"Hey, Brain, shut the fuck up. I can still poison you with alcohol."

Don't think you're going to go on any steakhouse gluttony tour right after you get that metal mess out of your mouth, either. Those lazy muscles that made you look like Lip Manlis? They also won't let you chew actual food for at least two or three weeks after you regain mouth freedom. Chunks of $70 porterhouse would just tumble back onto your plate, saliva-damp and unmasticated.

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