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Of Braces and Home Improvement

now it's a post-orthodontic journal

July to September 2006 
z Saturday, July 1 

Last month, if you remember, I mentioned that my older daughter needed to see to her dentist to have a baby molar extracted. (The loose molar wasn't falling out on its own). Well, it was quite an experience. The office visit began normally. The dentist gave her some "laughing gas" and numbed her cheek, then began giving her a Novocain shot. At some point, she got too much gas and became disoriented and agitated. That was when things got freaky.

First she began shoving the dentist and the dental assistant away, and took the gas mask off her nose. This was very unusual, as she is normally a very compliant and shy kid. Then she began kicking her legs and started screaming that she was dying. Well, that totally freaked me out. I realized that the gas was just making her delusional, but who wants to hear their kid scream, "I'm dying! Oh my God, I'm dying! Help me! Help me!"

Fortunately her dentist is older and very experienced. He and his assistant calmly restrained my daughter, turned down the nitrous oxide mixture and gave her more oxygen. Apparently she had closed her eyes (which can make things worse), so he kept telling her to open her eyes. I sprang to my feet and was right there in her face, telling her that I was there and that everything was OK.

It took a few seconds, but she "came back" from her "bad trip" and tears began streaming down her face. She said it was like the worst nightmare she'd ever had. The dentist was able to quickly extract the molar. Later he told me that in the future, it might be better for her to see an oral surgeon to get sedated. She still has 6 baby molars to go -- and if they are also stubborn, then the only alternative will be extraction. Great.

But I don't want to think about that right now. My daughter promised that she would do a better job wiggling those loose teeth in the future so that they could come out on their own.

When I was a kid, my dentist didn't offer laughing gas. He just had numbing gel and Novocain needles. It wasn't pleasant, but I survived it. And there were no "nightmares" as a result. Only a sore jaw.

My daughter now sleeps with a brighter nightlight -- but hopefully that will soon pass. And I'm trying to purge the memory of my daughter screaming that she is dying.

It's ironic that they call it "laughing gas" when it can scare you and make you cry.

P.S. The Tooth Fairy left her a large bonus for that tooth. :-)


Ah yes, the continuing saga of my home improvement project. Well, I'm happy to report that 90% of the painting and woodworking is done. The new baseboards are in (they look fabulous), and the crown molding is up in the living/dining room (it looks terrific), and various rooms and hallways are painted. My doors were replaced. The stairway banister was stained darker (wow!) And nice new Berber carpet was installed on the stairs. The new recessed lights look great. The paint colors worked out well. My daughter's room turned out really cute, thanks to a small fortune spent at PB Teen (I don't know whether to love or hate that catalog). Hubby's reclining club chair arrived for Father's Day and he was very happy relaxing on the ONE piece of furniture we have in this huge room.

The only thing that remains is the faux finish for the walls of the living/dining room, which is supposed to get done in the next week. Then the rest of my furniture can be delivered and I can get on with my life!


I'm trying to jog again. I hope my left knee cooperates. I loved jogging and reluctantly gave it up last year due to knee pain. My orthopedist said that it was thinning cartilage due to age. OK, I'm 45. I don't want to hear this. I don't want to hear that I can't do something I enjoy because my knees are getting older. I switched to "power walking" but it's not nearly as much fun as jogging. I like the challenge of jogging.

The other day I drove past a new running store. They have a computerized pad that analyzes your gait. The analysis helps the salesman fit you into the correct type of running shoe. For months I've been wondering if my knee problem was partly due to the wrong type of shoe. So I treated myself to a gait analysis. I figured that my running shoes were a couple of years old and I needed new ones anyway, so why not? Turns out, I pronate BIG TIME on my left foot, despite professionally made orthotics.  Bingo. We tried a few different models and each time I got on the treadmill and the salesguy watched me jog. Finally we hit on one model which he said fit correctly and I thought was comfortable. On the treadmill they made me feel really good. My old shoes, apparently, compensated for my pronation too much -- the orthotics correct it to some extent, but the shoe was actually making things worse.

I was amazed that the correct shoe did not result in any knee pain. I actually felt comfortable on the treadmill. I was ecstatic. Maybe I can jog again! I bought the shoes and went over to my local park to get them dirty. Wow, so far so good. I'm doing a "walk/jog" program. Nothing very ambitious. Literally it's baby steps. My knee feels OK. I'm taking it very slowly and keeping my fingers crossed -- and my knee well iced.

Tuesday, August 1 

What a stressful month July was! Between all the home improvement stuff and trying to get away for a family vacation, I felt like I was going to have a stroke! Seriously, I can't remember the last time my stress level was so high. Note to self: don't let yourself get so stressed out anymore, because it's really really bad for your health (read on....)

The faux finish was supposed to be put on our living room walls in late June, but it got pushed back one week because the painter had other commitments. I was not happy about it, but there was nothing I could do. This totally messed up my schedule, because I had planned to have some "semi-down time" between home improvement stuff and "getting ready for vacation" stuff. Plus, I wanted my furniture to be delivered BEFORE we went away, and this delay made it very difficult to accomplish that task.

It all got done, but it was really hard. The walls were barely dry when the furniture came.

And then there were all the details for vacation to deal with. You see, I was not only packing the family for one vacation, but TWO, simultaneously. Believe me, I didn't want things to be this way. I try to make things very logical and organized. But many times, life just won't bend to your desires.

Because of prior commitments and work obligations on my husband's part, we couldn't leave for vacation as early in the week as we had wanted. And then, because of crappy flight schedules, we couldn't come back as early as we had wanted. And in the middle of it all, there was painting and furniture delivery happening in my house an entire week later than I had planned. Not to mention, running my business and taking care of this website!

We had tickets to go to Florida starting on July 13th, returning July 23rd (Sunday). Then first thing Monday morning, July 24th, my kids were going to sleep-away camp for 2 weeks. So I had to pack them for BOTH things at the same time. I wound up buying a lot of extra socks and underwear for them just so that I could throw it in the camp boxes and leave them there for when we got home. Not to mention all the other stuff I had to buy (water bottles, extra sleeping bags, mess kit supplies, etc). There was a HUGE checklist and certain requirements (girls cannot wear spaghetti straps or tank tops or flip-flops) -- which ruled out 90% of the clothing my kids had in their drawers! Argh!!!

The icing on the cake was the food situation. My kids have a few food allergies, and I had been working with the camp to ensure that they would not be exposed to those allergens. Which meant shipping a bunch of food products up to camp, too. Which meant that as soon as I  got home from Florida, I had to go to the grocery store to buy a bunch of stuff for them!

So here is what mid-to-late July was like for me. Take a deep breath and read on:

July 5th: My reflux is acting up again, probably from stress. I'd been handling it with some generic Zantac and Tums, but it wasn't enough. So I decide to go back on Aciphex for 6 weeks to help clear up the reflux. Seemed harmless enough -- I'd taken it a few months ago and it worked like a charm with no problems. (You will read later how this backfired on me...)

July 6-10: The faux finish is put on the living room walls.

July 11th and 12th: My cleaning lady comes early in the morning (I'm so lucky to have a cleaning lady a couple of times per month!!!)Furniture is delivered to my house and I have to finish packing everyone for vacation and get the business ready to be away.

July 13th, early morning: We leave for Florida. The airplanes are very cold. Which wasn't good for me, because....

July 14th: I wake up with a flare-up of Raynaud's syndrome on my left second toe (this is where it seems to always crop up). Fortunately it isn't too bad and I'm only limping for 2 days. Despite this, we are able to take the kids to Disneyworld and Sea World and have a pretty good time, weathering all the heat and crowds. I still don't understand this Raynaud's thing, or what exactly sets it off. But I'm seeing a really good new endocrinologist in early August who I'm sure will help unravel the mystery.

July 18th: It's very hot. Spent the morning at the pool with the kids, relaxing and swimming. Went to Sea World in the late afternoon to see the legendary Shamu show. Around 8 p.m., we're walking around Sea World and my leg and waistline begin to itch. I take a shower back at the hotel room and put some hydrocortisone cream on the itches, figuring that it's just a heat rash or something.

July 19th: The itching has spread and is now a bonafide rash all over my trunk. I put Benedryl cream on it but it doesn't help. I put Calamine lotion on it, but that doesn't really help either. Finally I take some oatmeal baths, but again no change. I take 2 Benedryl tablets and go to sleep, figuring that the Benedryl will knock it out.

July 20th: We leave Orlando and head to the Sarasota area, where we had planned to spend a few days at the beach (I mean, how many theme parks can you take?!) The rash has now spread to more than 50% of my body, including my scalp and face. Obviously the Benedryl tablets didn't help. Panicked, I call my dermatologist, who tells me I might be having an allergic reaction to the Aciphex. I call my pulmonologist (who prescribed it) and my allergist and they all agree and tell me that I probably need to take Prednisone because the Benedryl didn't control the problem. Of course by now I've stopped taking the Aciphex. We see a local doctor, who concurs and prescribes Prednisone. I'm scared, because aside from cortisone injections into my shoulder a few years ago, I've never taken a steroid.  She put me on a 6-day course of pills, where you start out with 6 pills and every day you take one less until they're gone.

July 21st: The Prednisone agreed with me, thankfully. It took a full day for the rash to noticeably begin clearing up. I'm pissed off, because we're staying at a nice tennis resort on the beach and I wanted to play tennis and get some time in the sun at the beach. But I take what I can get! That afternoon I feel good enough to go into town and do some shopping (I figured that I deserve a treat after what I'd been through) and found some great sales. Bought a few shirts and some pretty stretch bracelets. Had a huge scoop of ice cream in a waffle cone with chocolate coating. I figured I deserved that, too. That evening, I DID get to play tennis with my husband. It was my first time playing on a clay court. That was a lot of fun. It's great to play tennis again.

July 22nd: Went to the beach early in the morning and then again late in the afternoon. Stayed out of the sun, but did enjoy the water. Took my older daughter shopping in the early evening. Played tennis again with my husband and kids that night. By now the rash is 99% gone. I wish I had another few days of illness-free vacation, but c'est la vie.

July 23rd: We blearily leave Sarasota early in the early morning to drive to Tampa for our flight home. Thankfully, there were no flight delays. Arriving home in the late afternoon, I drop everything and run to the grocery store to get food for my kids' camp. Label all the food with their names. Then begin packing their suitcases and duffle bags, dealing with a huge checklist. Our area is having an awful heat wave, and despite air-conditioning in our house, it's damned hot.  By 7 p.m. I'm cranky and exhausted and yelling at everybody. Not exactly the best way to send your kids off to camp.

July 24th: We successfully get the kids off to their sleep-away camp. By mid-afternoon, I'm soaking in the hot tub and feel a huge weight lift off my shoulders. The suitcases and house are a total wreck from all the unpacking/re-packing we had to do for the kids. But I don't really care.

July 26th: I finish the Prednisone treatment and cross my fingers that the rash doesn't return (so far, so good). My reflux has been mild. Not sure what to do next about that, because often if you're allergic to one PPI drug you're allergic to all of them. I'm still not sure what set off the rash. Was it being on Aciphex and also being in the sun? Was it my auto-immune problems? I just want the damned reflux to go away. It HAD gone away until I took Augmentin again for a sinus infection a couple of months ago. I will NEVER take Augmentin again, I don't care WHAT my doctor says. I don't know what it is about that antibiotic, but it keeps making my LPR reflux worse. I have read, on the Heartburn Help forum, that other people have had the same experience with Augmentin.

So that's where I stand. Finally I got the suitcase/laundry/unpacking stuff under control. A few more pieces of furniture (for the TV room) were delivered yesterday. It's nice to have some quiet time in the house with the kids at camp. This was their first experience with sleep-away camp, so that was also rather stressful for everyone (all the anticipation surrounding that).

A few days later, I was able to dig out all of my china pieces (many of them packed away in the garage for years) and put them into my beautiful new china cabinet (the first one I've ever owned). Some of these glass and silver pieces (many were wedding gifts) have never seen the light of day. Now they are finally displayed in my home the way they should be. THAT is very nice, after all these years!

My husband was able to go AWOL from work for a day so we could spend some time together in San Francisco. We had a couple of great meals and even went dancing to a very fun "goth" club -- and were relieved not to be the oldest people there, LOL! Staying out till 2:30 a.m. dancing to the likes of Nine Inch Nails and Siouxsie -- now THAT is fun! We never get a chance to go away together (just the two of us) so it was really a treat!

In August we will be visiting my parents, but I plan to make that a much more low-key experience. No work going on in the house, no extra excitement, no new medications started, and hopefully no stupid health problems. I try so hard to be healthy and in-shape, but it seems like one thing or another keeps happening. At least my back isn't hurting! Last summer, you may remember, I had a major problem with my back. So every time I go jogging or cycling or play tennis, I feel very grateful that I'm able to do these things without pain. I'm especially enjoying tennis these days, and am thinking of taking lessons to improve my skills.

So, the moral of the story for the month of July is:

1. Remember that stress is hard on your body, especially if you have an auto-immune condition (I have Hashimoto's Thyroiditis). Try to make your life less complicated if possible. (ha ha ha!)

2. Don't start medications (even ones you've taken previously) before you go on a trip.  EVER. You just never know when you may become allergic to something or have a bad reaction.


OK, I'm going to spend some time in the hammock with my husband, not thinking about or doing ANYTHING.

Oh yeah, P.S. -- The new furniture looks GREAT! It's nice to have real chairs and sofas to sit on after months of empty rooms!

Friday, September 1 

I was really surprised by the results of last month's Braces Poll, which asked the question "How hard was your decision to get braces?" Almost 1400 people responded, and of that sample, 44% said that they agonized over the decision or were very worried about it, while 31% said it wasn't a big deal or was a very easy decision. So, it seems that people are either biting their nails about taking the plunge, or breezing right into it. A small number (17%) said that they were only somewhat worried about it. The final 5% belongs to people who did not make the decision themselves (mainly minors whose parents made the decision for them). OK, doing the math, that adds up to only 97%. I'm scratching my head over where the polling software hid the other 3%. Must be the ghost in the machine....


Well, summer has come and gone -- the kids have been in school three days already. They should outlaw school starting before Labor Day. It's just not right. School should start in September, not in August! I suppose that the school board has a good, logical reason for this, but for those of us accustomed to the Jerry Lewis Telethon being the marker for summer ending, it just doesn't seem right.

After last month's health adventures (that sudden allergic reaction), things have thankfully quieted down. Although I did make a discovery recently. The rash of "sinus headaches" I sometimes inexplicably get are not sinus headaches at all, but migraine headaches! That sheds a whole new light on things, and I'm looking forward to being able to control them. I found a great website,, which explains a lot of stuff that my doctor talked to me about. I'm passing the information along, because many of us women suffer from migraines, especially around "that time of month." I guess mine aren't as bad as some people's -- which is why I thought they were only sinus headaches. Now I understand why decongestants sometimes failed to relieve "the pressure."


The recent ban on toothpaste has kept things hopping for As you may know, our store carries pre-pasted toothbrushes (powdered toothpaste is in the bristles). Understandably, this item is now very much in demand with people who need to travel on airplanes. It has kept us extremely busy, but we're up for the challenge! Nobody knows how long the TSA ban on liquids, gels, and pastes will last. All I can say is, if you need pre-pasted toothbrushes and you can't get them from your dentist or find them in a local store, has plenty of them -- both the premium Readybrush and the basic type.

Speaking of the TSA ban, we did a bit of traveling in August and this really surprised me: My daughter was thirsty when we got to the gate to board our flight. So I bought a bottle of water from an airport store. After purchasing the water, they made us remove the cap and give it to the salesperson! I thought that was a bit extreme. Thankfully we didn't spill it all over ourselves getting it back to the gate!


My older daughter lost yet another baby molar the old-fashioned way: she wiggled it until it finally came out. What a relief. I'm not sure how many more she has to go, but if we can totally avoid a trip to the oral surgeon to remove the others, it will be terrific.


I still have some minor furniture to buy for my house (coffee table, end tables, some lamps, and some artwork), but for now I've run out of steam. I'm taking a short break. I just can't think about it anymore. If I can have all that stuff in place by the end of the year -- or even the Spring --  I'll consider it an accomplishment.


On a personal note, my husband and I are celebrating 20 years of marriage this month. You know you're getting older when you look at your wedding photo and the first thing that you think is: "Wow, look at us.....we look like....young kids!"

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