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Of Braces and Home Improvement

an orthodontic journal

October to November 2002
z Tuesday, October 1

I hope you like the fall colors of the site this month. Please visit the special Halloween humor page. Hopefully, the link on that page will work properly, and all the graphics will show up! The animation link might take a while to load if you don't have a fast connection. I would have placed the animation directly on the site, but I think Angelfire would have a cow if I tried to do that.

Anyway, you may have noticed that I haven't mentioned "work" in a while. That's because there just isn't any. The bottom has fallen out of the technical writing field. High-tech companies are cutting back, and documentation (which is usually viewed as "not crucial" anyway) is the first thing to go. The money has evaporated. It used to be quite lucrative -- jeez, you could name your (high) rate if you had the skills -- but since the dot-com bust, things have changed drastically. I've seen my hourly rate get cut more than half. After a lot of soul-searching, I decided that it wasn't worth it. Will it ever be as good as it was? Well, many jobs in the technical industry are leaving and not coming back. So no, I don't think it will ever be the way it was in the mid-to-late 90s. Maybe that's not such a bad thing. I mean, honestly, did YOU buy "Flooz?" You know, some venture capital company put MILLIONS into that stupid idea. Alas, the glory days of Silicon Valley...not to mention our stock market accounts (yours as well as mine, I'm sure...)

So I'm taking stock in myself and starting a little business that has nothing to do with technology. In time I'll tell you more about it. Let's just say that I have an interesting idea, and I think it might work. And if it doesn't work, well at least I gave it a shot. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. At the moment, I'm busy doing a lot of research and trying to lay the groundwork for everything. It really is intense. At some point, when I come up for air, I plan to continue painting some of the rooms inside the house. But unfortunately, there are only 24 hours in a day, even with caffeine...

I have nothing ground-breaking to say about my teeth, other than a little pain I experienced last week. Out of the blue, the upper left quadrant began aching. Since the uppers have chains, I assume the ache was due to something moving. It only lasted a day or two, and then disappeared. It didn't hurt bad enough for pain reliever. It was just a dull ache. Like I've said before, I don't mind these aches and pains, because it means that things are happening.

By the way, I want to apologize for the oldest Forum entries being deleted. It's not me doing it, it's the Bravenet system. I had no idea that I wouldn't be able to archive the posts. I wrote to Bravenet, but they haven't given me the courtesy of a reply. So when I move the site to a new host, I might change the Forum host as well.


z Wednesday, October 9

Happy Posthumous Birthday to John Lennon. 

I had an incident happen last week that still has me cringing.

As I have remarked lately, my front teeth are now touching -- something they never did before. In a moment of pure hunger, I quickly dove into a tuna sandwich on whole wheat last weekend, and SCREEECH! My teeth scraped against each other! It was like fingernails on a blackboard! I couldn't chew for about a minute -- I just sat there, squinting my eyes, waiting for "that awful feeling" to subside. Uugh!

This only seems to happen when I forget about my braces and try to bite into something like "old times" with my front teeth. So far, it has happened twice. The first time was when I bit into a cookie about a month ago. At the time, I thought it happened because I had bitten some weird way. Now, I know that it happened because my teeth are aligned differently than ever before. I HOPE TO GOD that the "final" alignment will eliminate this problem! If it never happens again, it will  be fine with me!

I've been busy as anything with the business I'm starting, the kids, and trying to stay on top of all the mundane but necessary housework. I also have begun re-designing this site (off-line, of course). If the design works out, it will be really nice.

I was supposed to get an adjustment this week, but delayed it. I'm going to dinner with some friends, and would like to enjoy my food. Dr. Vogt removed the chains from my lower teeth last time, and I expect he'll put them back on during the next adjustment. Which undoubtedly will mean pain and discomfort for several days. It's the first time I've postponed an adjustment since getting my braces on.

Hey, have you checked out the Humor page? Nobody has told me what they think of that animation link. Which leads me to believe that either it's not working correctly, or my sense of humor is too bizarre for my audience. I'll admit, I like very bizarre things. The stranger, the better. So, guys and gals out there in cyberspace -- tell me if it's too over the top for you! Personally, I walk around singing, "Baby-ba-ba-baby-Baby Ruth, Baby Ruth" at various times of the day. The music and sampling in that animation are really great. Kinda reminds me of Devo on Beck. 

Sorry that I haven't written much in the past few weeks. Things will pick up!


z Tuesday, October 15

Another adjustment, and more pain! As I guessed, Dr. Vogt put the elastic chains back on the bottom teeth. But he also put a heavier arch wire down there. Between everything, it's really painful today! Even after three Ibuprofens, it still hurts! I've been treating myself to lots of ice cream and have been drinking my Atkins shake for breakfast, because I can't even chew a waffle. Yogurt for lunch. Uugh, I can't wait to eat solid food again! I know that the pain will pass in a few days, but in the mean time, it makes me very cranky!

On a brighter note, Dr. Vogt said that the gap in my top teeth has closed by one third. I had originally thought that the gap would be closed by December, but I think it is going to take a bit longer than that. The bottom teeth will take longer, especially since they didn't have any chains last month. Nevertheless, he was very pleased with the progress of my teeth in general. 

I was going to try a different color this time. I asked for the teal. But after they put on the teal chains, I looked in the mirror and couldn't stand it! I looked like a silly kid. The teal was just too bright. So I changed back to light blue. I suppose I'll just stay with the light blue from now on. 

It's a good thing that I stayed in the general area of Dr. Vogt's office the morning of my adjustment. I had lunch at a local hamburger joint, and afterwards, one of the wires began poking my cheek. So, back to the 'ol chair for a clip. I had learned my lesson about THAT a few months ago. If a wire begins poking you, get it clipped ASAP. Otherwise, it will begin to feel like barbed wire.

Recently, I received a very nice email from a husband and wife who got braces together! The wife, named Chris, wrote a really interesting story, which I am going to add as a separate page in the next day or two. Thank you, Chris, for taking the time to write! 

I've been busy lately cleaning up my house. If you have kids, you know how fast clutter can accumulate. Well, I'm hosting a Brownie meeting at my house tomorrow evening. I'm not trying to be Martha Stewart, but I like my house to have a certain level of cleanliness when people come over -- especially people who have never been to my house before. So the past few days, I've been dusting, sorting, consolidating, vacuuming, and mopping. Such a glamorous life I lead! But it has its hidden benefits -- my birthday is soon, and I get to enjoy a clean house. I even got the kids to clean up their rooms (a minor miracle -- FAO Schwartz has nothing on my house....). Nothing like a little Mommy Birthday guilt to get them motivated! Heh heh heh!


z Friday, October 25

Uugh, I think I'm coming down with something. Either that, or my thyroid is out of whack again (I have hypothyroidism which acts up sometimes -- particularly when I get sick with a cold or whatever). Well, my throat is a little sore. Last night I was sitting with my older daughter at about 8:30 p.m., watching a really cool documentary about planets narrated by Patrick Stewart. I nodded off and slept like that until almost midnight! Hubby put the kids to bed; I was out of it! I got up, brushed my teeth and stuff, fell into bed, and slept all night until the alarm woke me up at 7:30 a.m.  10 hours of sleep, total!

Then this morning, can you believe, I was STILL tired and feeling kinda dizzy? After breakfast, I crawled back into bed for an hour. After lunch, I got out and did some light errands. But after picking the kids up from school, I felt really exhausted again. I slept on the couch for 3 more hours, from 4 until almost 7! Thankfully my kids took pity on me and left me alone and were really quiet. Hubby had come home early from a meeting, so he held down the fort while I dozed. I have such a nice family! I haven't felt this tired since I had Strep two years ago. (I had it for 3 straight months, it was awful!) Hopefully this will pass soon and I'll get my energy back again! I PRAY that is isn't strep!

Well, on the tooth front, things are fine. My teeth stopped hurting about 5 days after my adjustment, and now I can eat steak again, or whatever I want. No pain at all. I did have one more incident of that tooth-scraping-nails-on-a-blackboard thing a few days ago. Really unpleasant. I hate that!

Maybe it's just my imagination, but my teeth FEEL straighter than before my adjustment. Is that possible?

If you check the forum, you'll see that reader Gary wrote a really nice review of SuperFloss versus Glide Floss Threader. It got me thinking that I'd like to add a page where you guys can write your own reviews/opinions of orthodontic products. For example, I had come to the same conclusion about SuperFloss as Gary had. I'm sure we each have our own favorite products, or perhaps are looking for products. Dental companies are always coming out with new stuff. Personally, I think that we adults with braces are an overlooked market.

Speaking of the Forum, there seem to be more pop-ups than ever on Bravenet. It is so darned annoying! I promise that in my next incarnation of this site, the forum will NOT have ads! So bear with it for now...

I have been so busy that I hadn't picked up my guitar in a while. For whatever reason, I decided that I wanted to play Willie Nelson's "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain." Hubby has an MP3 of it on our computer. I looked it up online, but the chord notation was wrong, wrong, wrong. So I had to figure it out myself (it's in the key of E in case you were wondering). I figured out all the chords and even the nifty little solo (for the most part). I did all this on Rob's steel string acoustic. My fingertips were downright shredded after 2 hours (if you don't play guitar regularly, the calluses disappear and you must build them up again). Uugh. But it was very satisfying to sit down and play that song along with the MP3 track and sound almost exactly like Willy. Almost. Close enough!

My new thing will be to learn some Django Reinhart and those interesting triad chords. Something I don't currently know, so I have a new goal. There are some great resources for Django stuff on the web. If you like that type of music, you MUST see the film "The Sweet and Lowdown" with Sean Penn. It is a really great film! When do I have time to do all this stuff? I don't. But I try. A little here, a little there. It's amazing what you can accomplish in an hour if you put your mind to it.


z Friday, November 9

I have so much to tell you. First of all, my teeth are fine. One of my molars was aching last week, but it stopped after a couple of days. Obviously, something was moving. The gaps are noticeably smaller. It's taking a lot longer to close them than I'd expected, but it's coming along. Soon I have another adjustment -- more pain to look forward to. I can't believe that it has been almost a year since I had the braces put on!

I have spent the past week glued to my computer. If you've been reading this journal, you know that I had an idea for a business. Well, now I'm ready to tell you about it. My business actually has to do with braces! A few months ago, I was talking with a couple of friends who have kids in braces, and they wanted to put together an orthodontic travel kit like mine. That got the wheels in motion. From a tiny idea, a product arose. I have been doing tons of research on dental products, and the result is a kit that I'm going to sell to people. I call it DentaKit (simple, straight-forward name). 

This took a lot of careful planning and research, and a really good spreadsheet. I ordered product samples from all types of dental companies. Some products looked great in the package but then didn't pass muster. Others impressed me. I put the best that I found into the kit. 

As you know, I'm not a whiz webmaster (although I've come a long way this year). A friend who has a jewelry business on the web told me about Yahoo Stores. That's how I created my retail site. My experience as a technical writer really came into play as I designed the look of the pages. And my past experience in marketing and corporate communications certainly helped in the copy writing. 

At the moment, the site isn't set up to take orders. That will happen later this month. It's still "under construction" until then. I am set up to ship to the USA and to Canada, but as soon as I get ahold of Fed Ex, I will try to set up complete international shipping. Click HERE to be taken to www.dentakit.com and see my new product line!

So, my idea is out there on the web, and I have a room full of DentaKits in my house! Will they sell? Well I sure hope so, but only time will tell. Anyway, I will NOT push my product on this site. I'll have a link or two to it, but I don't want to push it in your face. That's not my intention. This site will continue to be as it always has been -- a place for people to connect and get information. 

And speaking of THIS site, did you notice that the ads are gone? I finally forked over some money to Angelfire to take the ads away. I may eventually re-design this site and I might move it off Angelfire (as I had been planning) but for now, paying to remove the ads was the most convenient option. Think of it as an early Holiday gift from me to you! Personally, if I NEVER see the ad for "World's Largest Casino" ever again in my life, it will just fine with me!

Somebody on the Forum said that they saw a picture of Tom Cruise with metal uppers and lowers. Just a few months ago, he had ceramic uppers. This is very curious. Now I'm more determined than ever to interview him. Maybe if I do my best Barbara Walters imitation, his publicist will patch me through to him. Seriously, I'm going to try again. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?!


z Tuesday, November 19

Another adjustment recently, and more aches and pains. 

A weird (and rather stupid/embarrassing) thing happened to me last week. I had eaten a meal that contained shredded chicken. A couple of days later, one of my molars on top began to ache. At first I thought it was just pain from movement. Then I realized that the pain was coming from between the teeth. I used a dental pick to see if anything was stuck between the two molars. Sure enough, a big hunk of shredded chicken came out. Shame on me for not flossing more regularly. I was very surprised! Nothing has ever gotten stuck like that between those teeth. So I tried the pick on the other top molars (on the other side of my mouth). And sure enough -- same thing. 

I came to the conclusion that my molars have moved from the chains, and now there is more space between them than before. I'm not used to anything getting stuck between THOSE teeth because the contacts had been so tight before. So now, I make sure to floss more regularly and use a dental pick between those teeth after every meal to ensure that nothing remains stuck.

I told my plight to Dr. Vogt, and he decided to put the chains all the way to the last molar. I hadn't noticed before, but I guess the chains stopped on the first molar. Now they are on all the teeth. Hence the pain I'm in. Time to break out the Ibuprofen.

My kids went for their semi-annual dental checkup last weekend. No cavities in either kid -- I owe that partly to my Gummy-Bear ban. But my oldest daughter still has a thumb-sucking habit which we must now break. Her permanent front top teeth are coming down, and now's the time when damage could be done. Do you know how hard it is to get a kid to stop a finger sucking habit? Poor kid. Maybe I've been too good of an example for her. She said, "Mommy, if I need braces it will be no big deal!" I replied with, "Honey, it can really be a pain, and you don't want them if you don't really need them!" Kids can be so funny. Despite the finger-sucking, she might need braces one day anyway. We'll know for sure in the next year. My younger daughter still hasn't lost any of her baby teeth, much to her dismay.

I've been doing a lot of work preparing my other site, Dentakit.com, to take orders. I think it will be all set up by the end of this week. All major credit cards will be accepted. Working on that site (and this one) has been very frustrating recently, because my ISP (AT&T cable modem) has been very spotty. One minute it's working, next minute it's out. It's no use calling them, because they're a bunch of parrots reading scripted troubleshooting guides. So we just have to wait and wait until the cable modem is back up in an hour or two. This has been going on for the past two weeks. We're thinking of switching to DSL. It has taken all my self-control not to throw the cable modem box out the window! Before AT&T took over, the service was great. They bailed out the other bankrupt ISP, Excite(at)Home, last year. Almost immediately the service went to hell and hasn't improved much. That's what happens when the mega-corporations run things, I guess.

I read an interesting thing on the forum last week. A reader remarked that his teeth were hurting, but after 2 glasses of wine, they were numb. Well, there's a benefit from being an adult in braces, don't you think? Maybe we could start a new product line: "Lynn's Teeth Coolers" (in white, red, and blush). How about a mixed drink? A "Bloody Gumline" (no, that's too gross). Hmmm...  A "MarTEETHni"? A "Slow Grin Fizz"? OK, I'd better quit while I'm ahead.


 

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