Back to ArchWired Home  |Previous   | Next


Of Braces and Home Improvement

an orthodontic journal

June to July 2005 
z Wednesday, June 1 

The AAO (American Association of Orthodontists) annual trade show and convention was a blast! This four-day show (the 105th convention, believe it or not) was huge, filling up an enormous exhibit hall at Moscone Center in San Francisco. To give you an idea, each row was assigned a number in the hundreds. The rows went from 100 up to 2600! This photo doesn't even begin to show the enormity of the exhibit hall. Anyone and everyone in the field of orthodontics was there. In this photo you can see a large exhibit about Speed Braces on the left. Further back (not in the photo) were huge booths for GAC, Ormco, Align, Masel, Proctor & Gamble, Oral-B, and many other large orthodontic manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors from around the world. In fact, I finally got to meet some of the people I have spoken to on the phone, and it's always nice to put a face to a name and a voice.

As an exhibitor, I was busy, busy, busy! Our booth was constantly swamped with people! I didn't have as much time as I would have liked to attend the talks or leisurely browse the show. The DentaKit/ArchWired booth was shared with Maggie Harris of Harris Orthodontic Labs in Sacramento. Our booth was humble but functional. One table displayed materials for ArchWired and DentaKit, including a slide show for both websites which ran on a flat screen monitor (you can see one of the ArchWired pages on the screen to the left). The other table was devoted to the book I Lost My Retainer, which Maggie sold at the show, along with a really cute mini-book of lost retainer stories. We also had a raffle for a silver iPOD 4G Mini. That was nothing compared to the company that was raffling off a new BMW 3 Series! 

As you can see in the photo, to our right was a booth for a facial imaging company (from Japan). I would have liked to  get to know them, but they didn't speak English! However, candy is the universal language. I offered them some Trader Joe's chocolate-covered peppermint sticks, and they offered me some Japanese caramels. Good thing my braces were off, LOL.

I met orthodontists and orthodontic staff members from all over the US, and around the world -- as far away as Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong, Australia, South America, and Canada. People loved the ArchWired website, and they also appreciated the high-quality components of the DentaKit product line. In addition, many people from various companies came up to the booth and introduced themselves, saying things like, "I found ArchWired on the web and I want you to know what a great website it is! When I saw that you were going to be an exhibitor, I had to come over and say hello!"  Well dear readers, of course that made my day -- but you know I could never have done all this without all of YOU and all of your support and input! You guys are the real lifeblood of this website!

All in all, the show was extremely positive for us, as we spread the word about this website and all the help it has provided to people around the world. In fact, meeting people from so many countries reminded me that ArchWired has a shortcoming -- it is only in English! In the coming months, I hope to get the main pages translated into several languages. I'm also toying with the idea of having a section of the Metal Mouth Board for foreign languages.

I want to take this opportunity to congratulate Ms. Raigda Jena of the Sierra Centre for Dental Wellness in Calgary, Alberta Canada. She was chosen from among hundreds of raffle entrants to win the iPOD mini! Raigda attended the convention along with a bunch of her coworkers. They were fortunate to see San Francisco at its sunny best (it had been raining just days before the convention). Happy listening, Raigda, and thanks for stopping by our booth!


I'm really enjoying my new "finished" teeth. The bonding is working out really well. Now I only occasionally get a shred of food caught between my teeth, so it's quite a relief.  I would definitely recommend the bonding to anyone who was in my position -- done with braces, but still suffering with a few really small gaps. 


I had been so busy preparing for the trade show that several things around the house took a backseat. This past weekend I took some time to catch up. First on my list was our deck. My boxed herb garden had gone wild, the gas grill had never been cleaned at the end of last season because of my shoulder surgery (yuck), and of course the deck furniture needed to be cleaned. Now I can proudly say that house is ready for summer, because I took care of all of that. I just need to plant a few new herbs (basil only lasts one season, darnit). The windchimes are back up, the hummingbird feeder is full, and the cushions are washed. Bring on the summer! Where's my glass of iced tea?


Our home improvement saga will probably continue this summer, when we replace all the carpeting in the downstairs portion of our house (the upstairs doesn't need it). The carpet was here when we moved in more than 10 years ago, and at that point I think it was already at least 10 years old. Now that my kids are mostly out of the barf/pee/spill-on-the-floor stage, it's a good time to do this! Deciding which type of carpet to get is one thing -- moving 5 rooms of furniture to install the carpet is another. I'm NOT looking forward to it. Of course, the carpet company will do the moving. But then we'll have to put all the books back on the shelves, yada yada yada....I'm getting tired just thinking about it. I think we might also re-tile the entryway (make way for the sledgehammers and mounds of dust....). 

I had wanted to replace the carpet two years ago when we did all that other stuff, but Hubby wouldn't get behind the idea (I think he had a case of HISS -- Home Improvement Sticker Shock). Now he realizes how far gone the carpet really it is (it is actually disintegrating on a few spots; how embarrassing!) Nevertheless, I am REALLY REALLY REALLY looking forward to new carpet. No matter how often (or how well) you clean carpet that old, it never looks very good. And I know my kids will be able to repeat the following mantra in their sleep: "No, you can't eat it in there, you must eat it in the kitchen!" 

In preparation for this, for the past several seeks I have been getting rid of a lot of stuff we don't need anymore. It's just less stuff to put back on the shelves. I donated a ton of books, videos, and young child software to my daughter's school and to the local thrift store. Not to mention outgrown clothing. It feels so good to get rid of stuff you don't need! Of course I saved certain things that have sentimental value -- but the rest -- outta here!


My older daughter had a tooth pulled a couple of weeks ago -- a baby molar that wasn't falling out. She is getting her final set of adult molars, and although the new tooth was beneath it, the old tooth wouldn't budge. She was in some pain, and we were hoping that the tooth would fall out, but instead it just cracked and stayed in place. My daughter was understandably nervous about getting the baby tooth pulled, but her dentist (a pediatric dentist) did a great job. She never even felt the Novocain needle!

Meanwhile, my younger daughter is thrilled that her cross bite is gone and her new teeth are growing in straighter (she had the biggest toothless grin you can imagine, but she hated it, the poor kid). She's overjoyed that her front teeth have grown in enough that she can bite into an apple again. And of course, Mom is all for the kids eating those healthy snacks...

And to add to our family dental saga, my husband is having trouble with food getting caught between a new crown and the molar next to it. He's going to the dentist to see what can be done -- maybe some bonding similar to mine would help him. It's so funny: he told me that he has trouble between meals keeping that spot free of debris, and asked if I had a product that could help him. Well DUH, of course I do! I think he's new convert to the Pick-a-Dent Lover's Club. It helps to have a wife "in the business"! ;-)

We're just up to our eyeballs in teeth in my family, LOL! 

Friday, July 1 

What a crazy month June was. Between all the end-of-year stuff at my kids' schools, running my business, and having several health problems, the month just really got away from me.

My health problems aren't anything serious, but they are annoying and inconvenient, all the same. I won't go into a lot of details, but suffice to say that a woman my age (44) often begins to have various hormonal issues. So that's what I'm dealing with. And along the way, an unpleasant surprise, when I discover that my thyroid is acting up after years of cooperating. So I've been on a medication rollercoaster and going to see this doctor and that doctor, and haven't felt so good in the past couple of weeks. And after all the hoops I jumped through with my skin, it's breaking out again, which makes me want to scream! Hopefully adjustments in my medication will get it all back in line. No doubt, the thyroid problems caused the hormonal problems -- it's all a very "chicken-and-egg" sort of thing. My husband playfully says I'm like a finely tuned Swiss watch -- it doesn't take much to throw me off kilter. You men are so lucky that you don't have to deal with this sort of stuff.

However, added to all this unpleasantness, I managed to hurt my back again. It's all my own fault -- I should have listened to my body more closely when things started to ache -- but I was busy and just pushed through several chores -- then a few days later I was practically having spasms. Dammit, dammit, dammit. I've been taking truckloads of anti-inflammatories to calm down the irritation, and laying down and resting a lot. Fortunately, my doc says that I didn't do anything to the discs, it's just muscular and things are a bit out of alignment. Who knows, maybe all the other health problems predisposed me to this injury. Anyway, that kickboxing class, of course, is put on hold indefinitely. Maybe I'll start that up again in the Fall or later this summer when I'm stronger.

So now folks, I'm back in Physical Therapy, this time for my back. I swear, I'm just beside myself about this. My kids are in camp and I had wanted to do so many things that do NOT involve spending hours in Physical Therapy. But it's necessary, and hopefully it will be the last time in a LONG TIME that I'll be back in that place (no reflection on my therapist, who is a rare jewel). I know all the exercises, so hopefully once we get things back in alignment, I'll just be able to do them at home.

We have decided to put off getting new carpet because it would just be too stressful, so maybe that will happen sometime in the future. Somehow the thought of schlepping drawers and cartons of stuff around the house doesn't appeal to me right now.

And, as if things could get any more Erma-Bombeckian, our 10-year-old refrigerator started acting strange. The ice maker (inside the freezer) wouldn't stop making ice, then when I (thought I had) turned it off, it somehow leaked a quarter-inch of water all over the freezer. I had to throw out a bunch of stuff that had been sitting in cold water, defrosting for a day or two unbeknownst to me. What a mess. So I'm waiting for my back to feel better so I can go shopping for a new refrigerator. And THIS one won't have an ice maker inside (what a pain in the butt that thing has been -- I've never liked it). I think we'll get the side-by-side kind with the ice maker in the door.

Well anyway, there is a carrot at the end of the stick for me. My family and I are going on vacation to Hawaii in a few weeks. I'm being very careful so my vacation isn't screwed up by any additional back pain. Boy am I looking forward to Hawaii! I'm NOT taking a computer with me -- I am completely unplugging. I hope it doesn't sound weird saying this myself, but -- I deserve a total vacation! Hubby will have his Treo, so unless there is an emergency, I'll be totally tuned out. Aloha!

Wednesday, July 27 

Well folks, my back is still not better. It has been quite a rollercoaster ride of pain and discomfort all these weeks. Much to my disappointment, I was even in pain in Hawaii (on and off, despite taking maximum RX NSAIDs and icing/heating/taking it easy). I still had a nice time in Hawaii -- it just wasn't the "total relaxation great time" I had hoped to have.

Every time I think it's getting better, it starts hurting again -- for seemingly no reason --  and I'm back to square one. I must say, I've never experienced this before. I've hurt my back many times in the past, and usually some physical therapy, avoiding certain positions or activities, or doing certain exercises cures it in a number of weeks. Gradually it gets better and better until the pain is gone. But now it has been more than 7 weeks since the back pain began, and I'm only a little bit better.

Before I went to Hawaii I got an MRI of my spine. I wasn't surprised to find out that I have a moderate herniation of a disc (I think it's somewhere around L2 or L3). My orthopedist suggested that I get a cortisone shot. Actually, a series of them -- probably 3 shots, done several weeks apart, at the hospital. It's an outpatient procedure. The first one is scheduled for early next week.

I've had cortisone shots in my shoulder. And I've had epidural anesthesia (twice for childbirth and once for foot surgery). But I've never had a cortisone injection in my spine. Quite frankly, it kinda scares the shit out of me. I know the risks are slim (and my doctor is very skilled -- he will do this with the aid of a fluoroscope), but still...there's always that "what if..." in the back of your mind when you go in for something like this.

Nevertheless, here's what's pushing me to say "yes." Before going to Hawaii my back seemed to be getting better. I was really careful on the flight (I stood almost the entire time and didn't carry a thing). But despite that, I woke up the next morning in pain. It took 3 days for me to be able to sit without pain. Then it got better. And then out of the blue it got worse again. Then I got home and it was bearable. Then it got worse. Today it's better. Who knows how I'll feel tomorrow! I'm ready to get off this rollercoaster, and if cortisone shots will calm down the nerve, then I have to try them. Obviously nothing else is working very well. Sometimes the physical therapy exercises help me...and sometimes they seem to hurt me. It's very confusing.

I see my summer slipping away. All the things I had wanted to do are on hold. I'm quite inactive and feel bad about that, because I'm used to being in shape and doing things -- I hate just lying around. Sometimes when I'm driving down the street taking my kids to camp, I see people on their bicycles or playing tennis and it takes all my composure not to break down and start crying....because I want to ride my bike but I'm afraid it will make me hurt worse. And playing tennis is out of the question.

I won't lie to you, folks, this pain and limitation is really getting to me. So maybe it's worth the tiny risks to get these cortisone shots. From what I have read, it's not a "total cure," but it will probably calm down the nerves enough to allow me to exercise and strengthen the muscles, etc. And that alone might be enough to make this problem history.

If you've had a cortisone shot in your back and want to share your story with me, I'd be delighted to read it. So far most of what I've researched is fairly positive.

Well anyway, with all this in mind, please understand that ArchWired won't be updated very promptly for August. I will probably only do a minimum of things necessary for the site until I feel better.

Back to ArchWired Home  | Previous Journal Entry | Next Journal Entry

About This Site  | Disclaimer | Copyrights