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Bite the Bullet

I recently realized that I use a lot of idioms in my everyday speech. These cliche phrases create a visual representation of something that is too complex to describe. An idiom is a neat bundle that the listener can unpack using their own subjective interpretation.

The phrase ‘bite the bullet’ has underlying meaning to people, but most of us don’t know where it came from.

The meaning: To make yourself do something difficult or unpleasant that you have been avoiding doing.

The origin: During the American Civil War there were no painkillers for wounded soldiers in need of surgery. Army doctors gave patients a bullet to bite on to distract them from the pain. Patients could either choose to die or ‘bite the bullet’ and face the extremely painful operation.

A year ago, I had to bite the bullet figuratively and today I have to bite the bullet literally.

In January 2019, I finally made a decision to have an operation that I was avoiding for as long as I can remember. The surgery was a total joint replacement of my Temporomandibular Joints. I only avoided the surgery because of the horror stories I heard from other patients and because of my past experience with a failed implant.

Unless you are a surgical TMJ patient, there is no way to understand the lack of oversight and accountability by doctors, dentists, insurance, companies, medical device manufacturers and government agencies with respect to this complex joint. But, any single patient who has been operated on will agree that this area of the body fell through the cracks when Grey’s Anatomy was written.

So after dozens of surgeries on my jaw joints, I was given no other option. A metal joint was my only chance, and I BIT THE BULLET. In my case, biting the bullet meant coming to terms with the fact that my life would be littered with revision surgery and replacement parts. I wasn’t a certified ore-owned BMW- I was the cat that you see up on blocks at the mechanic. You know the one. All of the door panels are different colors. Only two wheels have hubcabs, and the steering wheel is covered in pleather because the plastic underneath is cracked.

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