'I knew it was bent but didn't replace it (or carry a spare) now it's really bent and I'm screwed (and out of pocket)'
I can remember the day I 'slightly bent' mine - actually, couldn't even see any bend - steering wheel was slightly off but Jeep still drove OK - didn't think any more of it.
Nearly 2 years later I was stuck on the beach as per the pic in my previous post with a tie-rod that was pretzled not even doing anything extreme.
Did heaps of wheeling in the meantime but it finally caught up with me at a very inopportune moment and ended up costing me hundreds to get out of there..
I believe I would not have had the tie-rod bend so badly (or at all) if I'd addressed the problem earlier (when I first noticed the steering wheel was off-center).