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Of Braces and Home Improvement

an orthodontic journal

August to September 2003
z Friday, August 1 

Things have been pretty quiet regarding my braces. No poking wires, no brackets popping off. I had an adjustment recently and Dr. Vogt put the power chains back onto the molars. He agreed that my lower gaps are very stubborn, but he was confident that the spaces would close up. And yes, the braces will stay on until the gaps are closed. 

Dr. Vogt didn't futz with the arch wires this time, so the adjustment was relatively pain-free; within 3 days I was eating regular food again.

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On the home improvement scene, I have been a busy bee. I painted the entire hallway, the entryway, and various doors and doorways inside my house. Now, except for a couple of very small touch-ups, I'm done with the painting for a long time. 

Here are a few photos of my finished kitchen. As you may recall, we had new countertops (Dupont Zodiac in Astral Pearl), new backsplash (antiqued limestone with custom-color highlight tiles), refaced cabinets (in maple), a new Pergo-type floor, new vertical blinds, new valance, new decorations, brought in a gas line and a new gas stove, an Advantium Halogen Light oven, and a little bookcase for my cookbooks. The plates on the wall are La Toscana design by artist Pamela Gidding, the art print in the middle of them is by artist Chiu Tak Hak, and the accessories were purchased at Bed Bath and Beyond and are pattern Sonoma.

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As you might notice, I added a bunch of new pages to the site this month and put the News block into sections to make it easier to read. I hope you enjoy the new features!

The Braces Poll had interesting results last month. As I had suspected, most people find their orthodontist through word of mouth (how's that for a pun?!) This month's poll was inspired by readers who complain about their brackets popping off. I'm curious to see how common this is. Perhaps it's more common than we think...


z Friday, August 8 

I got another cleaning the other day. Very uneventful. As usual, the hygienist used a metal pick and the Cavitron. She said that I had a very light build-up of plaque and no problems. Phew!

Food has been getting stuck in a couple of specific areas lately. These are areas on top where the gaps haven't completely closed. Although I go around all the teeth with my rubber-tipped pick, rinse a lot, and brush with the Sonicare, food invariably stays lodged in these areas. The only way to get out the food particles is to floss. It always surprises me how much gunk hides in these gaps, even when I'd swear that my teeth are perfectly clean. So nowadays, I'm flossing those particular teeth after every meal to ensure that nothing is stuck up there.

Speaking of gaps, it may be wishful thinking, but I think my stubborn bottom gap has closed just a tiny bit more. Go baby, go!!!

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We're off on our summer family vacation next week to the beautiful island of Aruba -- chosen mainly because that's where our frequent flier miles can take us! Someone on the forum commented that our family takes "a lot of holidays." I suppose we do. We love to travel, and that trip to Europe a few months ago was the chance of a lifetime for our kids (it was partly a business trip for my husband). This one is purely pleasure. I plan to do nothing but enjoy the sun, sand, and water for a week and indulge in my favorite beach activity, which is snorkeling!

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I thought I'd give you guys a scoop on DentaKit. I'm planning to branch out the product line to include a DentaKit for people with bridge work. If you have any thoughts on what you'd like to see in such a kit, please drop me a line.

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I'd like to welcome Dr. Richard DePaul, Jr., DDS, to our website. Dr. DePaul hails from Ohio and specializes in a treatment that straightens teeth with braces in about six months. Dr. DePaul has written an essay on his six month braces technique which will be included in ArchWired next month. He frequently drops into our Metal Mouth Forum to answer questions under the moniker "drrick."  His website is: http://www.sixmonthbraces.com/

If there are other dental professionals (dentists or hygienists) who are interested in contributing to ArchWired, please contact me. Your input is always welcomed.


z Friday, August 22 

Aruba was not fun, relaxing, or the least bit enjoyable, at least for me, because I got very sick. My family, at least, salvaged a bit of beach and pool time and got to snorkel. I, on the other hand, spent most of the week cooped up in the hotel room with a fever, watching mindless TV, and wishing I was home.

Things started out fine. I spent the first two days relaxing at the beach and the pool with my family. I made a list of all the fun things we were going to do in the coming days. But at the end of the second day, I started to feel sick. Sure enough, I had a fever. The fever came out of the blue. It was literally -- one minute I was fine, the next minute I was sick! Immediately I assumed that I was just dehydrated and started drinking more water and juice. This made me feel a speck better for a while, but then things only got worse. 

The next day, the fever got higher and I had horrible body aches. I noticed that my chest felt heavy, and soon I began coughing. Before I knew it, I had what seemed to be a bronchial infection. I usually get asthma after a cough and use a variety of asthma inhalers. Unfortunately, all my inhalers were at home -- because who expected to get sick with a lung infection on vacation to a tropical island?!  At this point, my "vacation" felt more like my nightmare. Sometimes I closed my eyes and prayed that when I opened them, I'd be home in bed, the entire scenario just a bad dream.

Two days after getting sick, we went to see a doctor, who said I had a bronchial infection and prescribed antibiotics. At first it seemed that things were getting better. My fever seemed to be going away and I felt more energetic. The next day, my husband asked if I wanted to do a bit of shopping, since I couldn't spend any time at the beach or in the sun. Two hours of leisurely shopping (mainly in air-conditioned stores), and I was done for. I returned home with a fever of 102 and felt like I'd been run over by a truck. My glands were getting swollen and my ears hurt. By this point, it was clear that I'd better stay in bed, period, if I wanted to get over this -- and be able to fly home. I gave up on the idea of going to the beach, snorkeling, or doing anything other than laying around. The fever, although lower than before, persisted. This really worried me. Usually after a few days of antibiotics, a fever will go away. But this one was sticking around.

The day before our flight, I saw another doctor to examine my ears and ensure that it was OK to fly.

Finally it was time to go home. The trip was pure hell. Because of the East Coast blackouts, the airlines were packed and we didn't have a prayer of getting a better (or more direct) flight. Our flights were somewhat messy because they were on frequent flier miles, and you usually don't have a very good choice with that. My husband had hoped that we'd be able to get a better flight, but no luck -- everything was oversold. We flew from Aruba to Atlanta, then Atlanta to Salt Lake City, and then home to San Francisco. Our journey began at 5 a.m. Eastern time and ended at midnight West Coast time. Hours and hours of recycled airplane air, trudging around freezing airports, and me with a fever of 101, a violent cough, and absolutely no appetite. I coaxed myself along with hot tea and honey, cough drops, gulps of bottled water, and loads of Ibuprofen. When I got home, I felt like kissing the ground. Home had never felt so good. I immediately ran to the medicine cabinet for my asthma inhalers.

The next day I went to see my doctor. After examining me and getting a chest x-ray, he diagnosed me with pneumonia in my left lower lung. He gave me an antibiotic shot, prescribed some very strong (different) antibiotic pills, and some very strong cough medicine with codeine. I also had my inhalers to help calm down my lungs.

So here I am, at the end the week, still coughing, but the fever is gone. My lungs feel very strange and I'm so tired it's unbelievable. All I've done this week is rest and see the doctor. The suitcases, still fully packed, are scattered on the living room floor, where they were tossed the moment we returned home. My husband has had to pick up all the slack, get the kids to and from camp, etc. This weekend I hope that my husband will be able to start washing some of those clothes, because I sure don't have the energy. 

Next week, there is no camp and the kids will be home (school starts the first week of Sept). I had planned to take them to the movies, museums, play dates with friends, and other fun stuff. I have already told them that IF I feel better by the END of next week, I'll take them to see Freaky Friday -- and don't expect any more from me at all. My doctor made it clear that I need to get as much rest as possible.

I've never had pneumonia before, and I sure hope I never get it again. How did this happen to me? I really don't know. I felt absolutely fine before we left on this trip. In fact, I had gone jogging the afternoon before our flight! My older daughter had a slight cough and ear infection a week before we went on this trip, and she had been on antibiotics. She never developed anything more serious and she recovered fully. Perhaps I picked up her germs and my body wasn't able to fight them off very well. Or perhaps I caught this on the airplane. I really don't know. I just want to get better. After it's all cleared up, my doctor suggested I get a pneumonia shot (which is good for 5 years).

I feel like wearing a t-shirt that says: 

My family went to Aruba 

and all I got was this lousy lung infection


z Friday, August 29 

I can't believe that it has been almost 3 weeks and I'm still not better. But I'm getting there slowly. I'm starting on my third antibiotic (4th if you count the shot the doctor gave me a while back). 

First I was on Augmentin in Aruba. I had taken Augmentin when I had Strep Throat a few years ago and it worked really well. But I guess it wasn't the right drug for pneumonia, because after 5 days of taking it, I still had a fever and felt like crap. 

At home, my own doctor gave me a shot of something and then started me on Avelox, a quinilone antibiotic. I was very hesitant to take it, because I had read that there can be severe side effects from the quinilones (Cipro, Levoquin, Tequin, etc). Sure enough, after 7 days on the drug, I started to feel strange. My legs hurt and felt like they were filled with lead. If you go to the Yahoo Groups forum for Quinilones, what you read about this drug would make your hair stand on end. People have wound up with permanent disabilities from these drugs. Fortunately, my doctor is very open-minded and took me off the Avelox. After a few days, the leg pain went away (thank God!!)

Now, I'm starting another antibiotic, Zithromax (which I've taken before with no problems). My lungs are much better, but I'm still coughing and it's evident that I'm not out of the woods yet. The doctor wants to ensure that all the bacteria is killed, and I agree. My energy is beginning to return. But on the doctor's advice, I am taking it VERY easy. I haven't been doing much of anything -- sweeping the kitchen floor is a big deal.

My kids have been home this week (school starts next week). Fortunately, some friends have taken the kids out for me every couple of days (to the park, etc), so at least they're getting out of the house and seeing some of their friends and doing things. Today, I do feel well enough to take them to the movies (sitting in a movie theater is about my speed right now).

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Knowing all this, I want to tell you that I won't be doing a site update for a few weeks. I hope you understand that it takes at least 4 hours of work (sometimes upwards to 8 hours) for me to update stuff on ArchWired, and at the moment I just don't have it in me, especially with school starting next week (which is always a big adjustment).

I do plan to hold the Orthodontic Haiku contest and put new material on the site later this month (maybe around the middle of the month). This includes an essay by Dr. Rick on his 6-month braces technique, plus some new photos in the photo gallery.

I wholeheartedly apologize to you, my dear readers, for this inconvenience. But considering how sick I've been, I need to put my health first, my family second, and anything else next. I hope you understand.

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I do have one positive thing to add. The gaps between my lower teeth have closed up a bit. Maybe having a fever for so long super-activated the arch wire, who knows. But that one stubborn gap is definitely smaller! Yea!


z Friday, September 12  

Well it's been a while, but things are beginning to return to normal. I'm happy to be able to finally do a site update! Lots of you have submitted items for the Photo Gallery and I'm glad to get them up on the site this month. 

We have lots of new stuff, so check out the main page, and be sure to enter the Braces Haiku Contest!

I know a lot of you have been complaining about Metal Mouth Forum. I'm in touch with Voy (again...sigh) about this. I promise that I'll do what I can to remedy the situation, even if it means moving the forum to a faster site, or hosting a forum myself -- although that is a bit involved and I'm not sure if I have the time to do that at the moment. In the mean time, please bear with it. I won't let this go on much longer before I pull the plug on Voy. I like their "no pop-ups" policy, but enough is enough...

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I was a little late in getting my adjustment this month, because I didn't want my teeth to hurt when I was coughing and feeling crummy. And it's a good thing I waited, because sure enough, Dr. Vogt tweaked my arch wire, added a couple of tie wires, and gave me new elastics! I was on a soft food diet again for about 5 days. In fact, I didn't wear the new elastics for about a week, because I just didn't feel like doing it yet.

I had my adjustment in the middle of the week, and by Sunday night a wire was poking me. Monday morning, I was back in Dr. Vogt's office for a clipping. Those pesky extraction gaps are finally beginning to close, and there is actually an end in sight. There's a new picture on my Photos page if you want to see my new elastics.

I asked Dr. Vogt how long he thinks my treatment will continue. He said maybe 8 or 9 more months. My attitude is, "Whatever..." If it takes another year, so be it. I've come this far and I can wait a bit longer if it means having a better result.


 

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