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Of Braces and Home Improvement

an orthodontic journal

February to March 2005 
z Tuesday, February 1 

Dammit, it seems that some small gaps are opening up among several top teeth. Fortunately, you can't really see them. But I notice them when I floss and when I look closely. I have an appointment with Dr. Vogt later this week, and it will be interesting to see his reaction to this new development. I do wear my retainer most of every day and all night every night. I think that he may need to make me yet another upper retainer to prevent anything else from shifting. I am willing to postpone the bonding if he can close these new gaps. Deep down, I'm worried that I may need braces again for a short period of time to close them up. He assured me on the last visit that that won't need to happen. However, I would hate to get bonding and then see more gaps afterward. 

Other than that, on the dental front things are OK; relatively uneventful. Still really enjoying being brace-free. Gleefully eating lots and lots of nuts! I still need to make an appointment with that Periodontist regarding my lower gums. I've been so busy with other things that I haven't been able to take the time to make the appointment!

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My shoulder is healing up really nicely. In fact, most days now I tend to forget about the surgery, and it has only been three months! I am very close to attaining 100% mobility, although as I've said in previous journal entries, I have worked very hard at it.  I still do the exercises every day and go to physical therapy twice a week for almost 2 hours each time (that may finally be reduced to one weekly visit soon, yea). I'm sore from doing the weight machines (the muscles aren't used to it), but the results are terrific: barely any pain, I can sleep on my left side again, etc. Soon I hope to truly reap the results of this whole experience. 

My only complaint is that 2-inch scar at the top of my shoulder. It often stings, itches, or hurts, and it's bright pink. It seems to be turning semi-keloid. I need to see my dermatologist and see what can be done about it, if anything. Last time she offered to inject it with cortisone. But at the time, I couldn't stomach the thought...

My complexion is finally back to normal. I am so grateful for those antibiotics. I feel like my face has been to hell and back in the last 8 weeks. It's great to look in the mirror and see "the old me" again. I mean...the former me. Oh hell, you know what I mean...

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You may have noticed last month that the January Braces Poll suddenly disappeared. Turns out, the company that hosts the polling software had a major hardware failure and data was lost. That's really too bad, because that poll had over 600 votes! Next month I plan to re-state the same question. Sorry about that; it's beyond my control!

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I had toyed with the idea of moving this journal to either MySpace.com or hosting it myself with Moveable Type.  Blogger is another venue, but I wouldn't own the files, and if they had a glitch, it would be beyond my control. So I downloaded Moveable Type, but at the moment I don't have time to do all the techie steps needed to properly install it on ArchWired's host (I saw the word PERL and immediately got a splitting headache, LOL). So I'll continue the journal in this format until April, and then I hope to cut over to Moveable Type, where you will be able to comment on the entries like most modern blogs. For an example of a good Moveable Type blog, visit my favorite one, written by none other than former Star Trek actor Wil Wheaton -- it's usually a fun read!

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And speaking of acting, I've been having such a blast in my Scene and Improv acting class! I haven't acted since college and I never did much improv. Let me tell you folks, it ain't as easy as it looks... 


z Friday, February 11 

Dr. Vogt adjusted my retainer to help close up some of those small gaps, but it seems like the bonding will do a majority of the work.  As I wrote in the ArchWired "blog" on MySpace, I had an unpleasant surprise a couple of weeks ago when two soldered-on pieces broke off of my retainer after I had accidentally left it soaking too long. However, Dr. Vogt said that those pieces were just for extra retention and were not really needed. I was afraid that I'd need to endure another upper mold for yet another retainer! Fortunately, everything was OK.

But let that be a warning to you if you have any soldered parts on your retainer. Don't soak it more than a few minutes. In fact, it might be better for you not to soak it at all, just clean it with a toothbrush and a little toothpaste!

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My dermatologist injected the scar from my shoulder surgery with cortisone today. OUCH!!!!!!! But she said that the injection should help flatten it and make it less sensitive. Which it isn't right now; it hurts like hell! 

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This will be the last journal entry for February, because I'm going out of town! We're going to Europe, accompanying my husband on a business trip (the kids have a week off from school later this month). This time we're going to London and Stockholm. Before we get to London, we're spending the first weekend up in The Cotswolds (a very cute area with quaint towns and thatched cottages near where Shakespeare was born). I'm psyched to show The Cotswolds to my kids, and also about seeing Stockholm (this is our first time in Sweden or anywhere in Scandinavia for that matter)! We are bringing lots of WARM clothes!

You may remember, we accompanied my husband to London/Dublin/Paris on business two years ago (see the journal from May 2003). This time we plan to visit other London attractions we missed the first time, such as the Millennium Wheel, Westminster Abbey, the Museum of London, and maybe the Tate Museum of Modern Art. I'd love to swing by the Globe Theater again, too. The Shakespearean theater up at Stratford-Upon-Avon is presenting Julius Caesar, and wow, I would really love to see that -- but apparently it is already sold out. Send some "day-of performance ticket release" vibes my way, will ya?!

I sure do wish the dollar wasn't so weak. In England we're really going to take a beating. I don't think we're going to buy anything aside from meals and a few small knickknacks. The kids want to go to Harrods and I'm happy to oblige, but it will strictly be window shopping, with each British Pound costing us $1.87! Yikes!

I am looking forward to eating some good curry in London. And now that my braces are off, I don't have to worry about my ligs turning yellow!

It will be a challenge to wear my retainer the requisite number of hours while I'm traveling. I don't want to keep taking it in and out of my mouth. I'll just have to see how it goes. 

I might be able to get an internet connection a few times while I'm abroad. If possible, I'll send greetings from Europe to Metal Mouth Forum and/or the MySpace blog. Skor!


z Monday, March 7 

Wow, it sure is great to be back home in semi-sunny California. London and Stockholm were both very cold. Although we brought plenty of the right clothing and outerwear, it was still difficult to deal with the weather, because we just weren't used to walking around in that sort of cold and wind. Yeah, it gets cold in Northern California, but not like that! In Stockholm it snowed almost every day. And it even flurried in London! 

Hubby was working most of this time (except weekends), so it was me and the two kids. And we lived to tell the tale. But let me tell you, two weeks abroad without the support of a spouse 80% of the time was more family togetherness than I'd bargained for. I think it will be a while before we accompany him on any other business trips. Needless to say, I am happy to be back in my quiet home office in front of my own computer.

We began our trip in the Cotswolds, about 2 hours north of London. This is a charming area filled with stone houses, thatch-roofed cottages, and more "quaint" in one geographic area than one person can shake a stick at. If the Cotswolds and Vermont had a contest, I wonder which would win, LOL? They had just banned the traditional fox hunt in England and the people of the Cotswolds were not happy about that. We saw many on horseback illegally having their fun, anyway. That really drove home a few of the cultural differences.

Of course we toured Shakespeare's birthplace at Stratford-upon-Avon and I was overjoyed to get one of the last remaining tickets for the Royal Shakespeare Company's fabulous production of Julius Caeser! We also visited the Rollright Stones (no, not Mick Jagger's new band). This is an ancient stone circle, similar to Stonehenge, but on a much smaller scale. The kids were fascinated.

In London I placated the kids by shelling out a small fortune for Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum. Now I know for a fact that John Travolta is pretty darned tall, and that Penelope Cruz and I are the same height (unfortunately, I'm not a size zero, so alas we could never swap jeans). When I say a "small fortune," I mean it:  double price, because of the lousy exchange rate. So a simple dinner that cost 30 Pounds translated to $60. Ouch. 

We balanced the silly tourist attractions with the classic ones: a visit to Westminster Abbey, and a ride on the London Eye. Oh yes, and we did get to have some great curry at Bombay Brasserie.  But sadly I never got over to the Tate or to the Victoria and Albert Museums. Perhaps next time.

We visited Harrods, where I made an amazing discovery: The Hot Chocolate Bar. This is a small restaurant where you can get a couple dozen different types of hot chocolate and various chocolate desserts. And I don't mean that awful powered mix, either. This is made fresh from melted chocolate. Oh be still my ultra-caffeinated heart! The kids and I REALLY enjoyed that part of our trip.  In fact, we loved it so much, we insisted that Hubby meet us there after work one day. So we went twice! The chocolate you see in this cup is as thick as hot pudding. I get a buzz just thinking about it. Although I can't take home any cups of hot chocolate, I shouted "Oh My God!" as I discovered an outlet for Paris' Maison du Chocolat in Harrods' food court. Two large chocolate bars and a bag of truffles later, I had my bounty. Which Hubby and I will eat judiciously over the next six months, lest I get big as a house.

Stockholm was a really interesting old European city, but entirely frozen. I would love to go back there in the summer, when everything really is green and all the ferries are running. We schlepped around via the Tunnelbana (underground) to various museums and sights. We learned a lot about the Vikings. 

And we visited the famed Absolut Ice Bar at the Nordic Sea Hotel! Yes, it is a bar housed in a "meat locker" and is made entirely of ice: the bar, the barstools, the tables, and even the drinking glasses! We really lucked out: we had no idea that you needed a reservation. Fortunately, shortly after we showed up, someone cancelled, so the four of us went in. Your $20 per adult ($10 per kid) entrance fee includes one drink (choose from among about a dozen offered) featuring, of course, Absolut vodka. Obviously the kids had juice. You wear your coat inside, but they place a silver poncho on you for added warmth (and cache'). In the photo I look large because I'm wearing like 5 layers of clothing, including a bulky down coat. Everything is very pastel and silver, like the first Star Trek film. It was really cold in there, but a lot of fun! If you're not getting to Stockholm anytime soon, take heart: a new Ice Bar just opened somewhere in Milan, Italy. Why don't they have one in Vegas? Sheesh, they'd make a fortune! Maybe they could install an ice slot machine inside!

Well, after two weeks, I really was ready to come home. I love to travel and see new places, but without Hubby's support it was quite difficult, even though the kids aren't so small anymore. Now they're old enough to fight and get moody and give me tons of guilt (she rolls her eyes).  

Regarding the retainer: OK, I made an earnest effort to wear it during the day at first, but it just wasn't working out. We were here and there and all over the place, and I was afraid I'd lose it. So I just wore it at night. It was OK; nothing shifted, no horror stories to report. 

I'm looking forward to finishing everything with the new fillings and bonding during the next couple of months. Today I plan to call my dentist and make the appointments. I'm not going to worry about Spring Break -- because, believe me, we plan to be HOME!

And so my friends, I offer you a toast. A choice of one of four drinks in ice glasses. Cheers!


z Thursday, March 24 

Been under the weather lately. I caught a little cold on the tail end of that European trip, and it turned into a sinus infection. Now I'm on antibiotics and starting to feel better.

Today I finally got my butt over to the periodontist. I'd been putting it off (mainly because I was so busy with physical therapy on my shoulder).

The news is good -- and bad. The reason I went to the periodontist is gum recession on my two lower front teeth. This was a result of stress on the gums when I first got my braces on (the extractions prevented further recession). I have about 2mm of recession on each of those two teeth. Yes, I will need a gum graft -- that is the bad news.

The  good news is: I won't need a graft done immediately. The doc wants to keep an eye on it and see me in 6 months. Chances are, I'll need the graft done sometime in the next couple of years. We talked extensively about how the graft is done, what is involved, and how long it takes to heal and then look good. He explained that the graft would not be able to totally restore the gum up to its original line. Technically, that would be impossible. But the gum line would look better than it does now, and more importantly the extra tissue from the graft would help protect the roots of those two teeth.

I'll be honest: I'm not looking forward to this procedure. At least I won't have to be knocked out for it (it's done under local anesthetic). I am relieved, however, that I won't need it done right away. After that shoulder surgery a few months ago, I just can't go through another "surgery-recovery" phase for anything right now -- it would just be too much.

Speaking of my shoulder, I'm finally done with the formal physical therapy! Yea! Now I'm just doing exercises at home. In fact, I'm doing a lot of exercising at home -- lots of aerobics, a Pilates DVD, a little jogging, weight training again on our Bowflex, and I intend to try out some kickboxing! My goal is to lose 10 lbs and get back in shape. I'm making good on some of my New Years Resolutions by eating a very healthy diet including more fruits, veggies, and water, and limiting the sweets and junk carbs. Hey, after all that chocolate in London -- well, if you're gonna play, you're gonna pay, right?

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My younger daughter got her expander taken off earlier this week! She only had to wear it three months. Her cross bite is resolved. While we were at Dr. Vogt's office for her appointment, they did final molds on my teeth. I was really pleased to learn that the upper molar gap has closed. That's one less place I'll need bonding. I still have a few small gaps between the lower molars. Next month I see my regular dentist, who will replace those amalgam molar fillings with composite material and close up the lower gaps that way. Then in May, I will go back and get a little bonding done on a couple of the upper teeth. And then I'll be done, done, done! (I hope!)

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I've been busy re-designing the home page of ArchWired. The new home page will make its debut on April 1st (no, that's not an April Fools joke). The first page has become too cluttered and I have intended to clean it up for many months now. I think you'll like the lighter new look, and I promise it will still be easy to navigate.

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Aside from all this, I've been writing up a storm. Lots of new poetry. I'm attending a writing seminar in early April, too. And I'm gearing up for my second acting class -- which is really just a continuation of the first one. I've been reading Uta Hagen's Respect for Acting. And since I enjoyed Julius Caeser in England so much last month, I've been renting many of the Shakespeare plays on DVD through Netflix. Next up on my agenda: Hamlet starring Patrick Stewart! "To engage or not to engage: that is the question, number one!" Good thing Easter is coming, because I'm reverting to my natural state: a big ham.

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