‘Surviving crash changed my outlook on life’
You can find Rosheena Shamsid Deen's jaw wrapped in gauze, in a plastic bag she keeps in her closet. Her purpose-built replacement is made entirely of metal, crafted after a near-fatal accident last year.
She keeps the original as a reminder not to take life for granted.
“I'd been going all day,” she said. “I went to work as a waitress at 6am at the Hamilton Princess. I did a double shift, then went to Harbour Nights, and then went out. And, yes, I did drink that day. But I was just exhausted.”
The 20-year-old fell asleep while riding her cycle through Devil's Hole in Hamilton Parish on July 23.
She fractured the upper roof of her mouth and broke several ribs. Emergency workers had to search the scene to find her missing jaw.
“Apparently I had a tooth in my throat when emergency workers got to me,” she said. “They said if I had been fully cognisant I might have swallowed it and choked to death.”
The entire experience was, naturally, very unnerving.
“What tripped me up the most afterwards was that I would have died and never knew that I died,” Ms Deen said.
“I woke up three days later. I was in a medically induced coma so they could repair my jaw.” She spent three weeks at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital. Her jaw was entirely rebuilt and wired shut.
“It gave me a lot of time to think,” she said.
“Two weeks after the accident I told my mother I wanted to go back to [Bermuda College] and finish. I had one year left.” She was released from hospital on August 12 and started school on August 30.
The wire in her mouth was not removed until November and it took five months for the facial swelling to go down.
“At first I was a recluse and really didn't talk to anyone,” she said. “But I did eventually come back to myself.” She now sees the accident as a wake-up call.
“I'd been asking myself is there really any point to doing art in college,” she said. “Sometimes I didn't hand in assignments on time; at work, I was sometimes late.”
Today she is determined to do her best and become a creative director in the fashion industry.
“I am really into fashion,” she said. “I have done some modelling. The first show I was in was CedarBridge's fashion show when I was 15.
“The next year I was in the Evolution fashion show. Modelling was a hobby though, and right after the accident, with my face so swollen, I doubted I'd ever do it again.”
She got back on the runway again for the Bermuda College Trashion Show this month, modelling a tinfoil dress of her own design. She said: “In previous years I always had something to do during the Trashion Show.
“But this year, the night before the event, I was staying late to finish up some work. Another student was finishing up her entry for the show. She said it was the next night. My professor asked me why I wasn't entering.”
Ms Deen realised this was her last chance before she graduated. The tinfoil dress was something she had sculptured for an art class.
“It took me three months to make into a sculpture,” she said. “It wasn't difficult to make it into a wearable dress. I just put it over my head and folded myself into it. ”
When she took to the stage, it felt like a homecoming.
Given the eleventh-hour nature of her entry, she was thrilled to win the crowd-pleaser award at the show.
“Knowing what I had been through, it did feel very satisfying to win that award,” she said.
She experienced another success when four of her digital art prints were included in the Bermuda College show, on now at the Bermuda Society of Arts.
“The accident definitely changed my outlook on life,” she said.
“I've learnt to be less complacent. This year, I have exceeded expectations.
“I have worked hard to finish all my assignments. I am now getting top grades. I'm trying to be as professional as possible at work. Before, I don't think I always did my best.”
Ms Deen would eventually like to go abroad to study graphic design, but for the moment is concentrating on getting her life back in order.
She graduates this month with an associate degree in art and design, and is hoping to find an internship in her field.