Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Save the Archwired 1!

Did you see that the forum on archwired.com has been locked? Seems that the moderator has been getting so much stick recently from board users that she's had enough and shut it all down. I'm really gutted about this as it played a huge role in my decision to go ahead with braces and surgery. It helped me discover that orthognathic surgery wasn't some weird rare procedure to be feared, and that there are so many people out there going through the same thing. I was just getting into posting, and was planning to make the most of it throughout my entire journey, so to find it now disabled is very sad. Why can't some people just behave? If someone is giving up their time to run a forum like that they shouldn't have to put up with hassles from idiots so I don't blame the poor woman for dumping it, though I hope something can be worked out at some point in the future to get it back up and running. Can anyone suggest another similar forum? I've yet to find one that that matches the quality and content of archwired....

In other brace news, the lead up to Christmas day is proving most interesting as i'm still discovering what, and how, I can eat. My front teeth continue to be hyper sensitive so they're all but useless for the time being, but it hasn't stopped me putting away two roast dinners already. I do have to eat with my mouth open a little when I chew tougher food though to get some leverage from the back teeth, which is a little embarrassing in company or out in public. I've been dealing with this by raising my fingers to my mouth and looking away or down a little whenever I need to chew property. It seems to work and is not too obvious, or was until I was spotted by a colleague at our departmental Christmas lunch last week who hollered across the table "IS THERE SOMETHING WRONG WITH THE FOOD? YOU LOOK LIKE YOU WANT TO SPIT IT OUT!". Thanks, you arse!

Otherwise A has been much amused to see me eating mince pies with a knife and fork (much too sticky to rip apart), and hesitating at the point of biting into a huge turkey and stuffing sandwich, suddenly remembering I cannot eat that way any more - bugger bugger bugger!

Have a peaceful Christmas everyone :)

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Down and Up again

It's been a painful 9 days since I last posted. The ulcers caused by my lower brace rapidly grew to humdinger proportions and triggered off others to develop all over my tongue and mouth (i'm susceptible to them when stressed or under the weather), by Friday the pain was excruciating! Eating was terrible, speaking painful and garbled, and sleeping difficult as I was continually woken up by the throbbing. I spent the weekend doing very little other than applying various ulcer treatments every hour or so and moaning about my terrible misfortunes. By Sunday evening, however the pain finally started to subside and the ulcers began to slowly retreat, beaten back by continual applications of Clorhexidine, Adcortyl in Orabase, TCB, Anbesol and salty mouth washes. Please god don't ever make me go through that again! I always knew that wearing braces meant a certain amount of pain and discomfort, but any more episodes like that and I'll be banging on Dr H's doors begging him to put me out of my misery and take them off, which would really be a disaster. I'm praying it doesn't have to come to that.

So with the ulcers dying away I am once again looking forward to my favourite part of Christmas - EATING! Don't think i'll have to avoid indulging, just take it a bit slower and more carefully, which is probably no bad thing given the masses of stodgy foods on offer. Also sensing that there could be a lot of advantages to be gained out of brace wearing, e.g. "Do you mind if I don't help with the washing up? Eating dinner has given me TERRIBLE tooth pain and I really need to go and lie down" or "I'll have the last of the brandy cream as this pudding will be too firm for me to eat otherwise" and might even try "I'M the one who's suffering around here, so should really get to choose what we watch on telly". May aswell make the most of any sympathy :)

PS - I've put up a few of my pre-brace pictures but am really not happy with the format. Want to put up a gallery so I can show proper before/after shots and progress pics, currently working out the best way of doing this. Watch this space...

Wednesday, 10 December 2008


Well, the honeymoon is definitely over! I've had my lower braces on for 24 hours now and have been in a foul mood throughout. Eating is temporarily off the agenda because of aching teeth, and anything I do tuck into seems to embed itself firmly around the entire lower brace. I've got several pokey wires, and the new brackets are doing an excellent job of rubbing up canker sores along the insides my cheeks. Welcome to the reality of brace-wearing!

I guess my near-ideal introduction to braces left me somewhat off guard. The last few weeks have been so easy with no pain or sensitivity to deal with that I was really starting to think this brace-wearing lark was a breeze. Added to this the fact that the upper brace filled out my upper jaw a little and detracted from my underbite, I was definitely feeling good. Now the metal lowers have gone on i'm finding out why so much complaining goes on :(

Attaching the brace itself went fairly smoothly. My lower teeth are far more crooked than my uppers so there was some struggling to get the wire in place, and they kept instructing me to lie still - not easy when it feels like someone's pushing their fingers down your thoat! Afterwards I asked Dr H what kind of changes I should expect to see, he told me that first the teeth need to be pulled upright and then he can begin moving them around. I think my teeth look pretty upright already but he assured me i'll be seeing changes by christmas, should be interesting to see what happens. He also said something about fitting the 'steel' wires later on, not sure what that means but it sounds painful! This makes me suspect that i'm wearing some sort of intro wires right now, maybe to break me in gently and gauge how much discomfort I can stand before they wheel out the big guns!

So now i'm back to square one in terms of flossing,waxing, learning to speak and the whole shenanigans. When I put my night wax on I look like i'm wearing A's rugby mouth guard! Better not forget one morning and go to work like that...

(will post all my pictures this weekend, promise!)

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

The silent treatment

Reached day 8 of my upper brace experience, and overall things have gone well! The initial tooth soreness faded very quickly, to the extent that I was able to go out to dinner the very next night. I did however manage to swallow one of the back brackets whilst scoffing a roast potato, but it wasn't attached to the archwire so not a big deal. Apart from figuring out what's good to eat with this thing on, life has returned to normal rather quickly. I can only hope the rest of my experience is as positive!

However I faced bigger issues at the weekend as I unveiled my brace to the family for the first time. Ma has been opposed to me going through with this from the start, and I managed to keep her from seeing my teeth all through Sunday lunch. When we were alone in the car later I decided it was time to fess up. I took a deep breath and said "There's something about me you havn't noticed". A pause. "Your brace is on?"she asked "I need to have a look at this" and pulled over to the side of the road to have a good look, asking a few questions about the cost, pain etc etc. I commented that my boss has said it looked rather dainty, she said nothing.

A little later we were looking through some photographs I had taken on my camera and came across the closeup shots i'd taken of my teeth the night before my brace went on. Encouraged by how things went in the car earlier, I started talking about how pleased I was to have started this process and how I was looking forward to the my new bite. But before I got any further she shook her head and snapped "No, I don't want to see these or talk about this!". Oh. We changed the subject and the atmosphere quickly returned to normal, but upstairs later on I did find myself getting really upset by her reaction. Refusing to discuss things like this is even worse than shouting as there's no possibility of putting my of the story, and it makes the journey i'm on so much more difficult emotionally. I'm just going to have to keep quiet about the whole subject until she's come to terms with it a bit more, this could be a long time knowing my mother...

Enough of the gloom and doom, now i've got used to the brace it's time I took it out to meet people. Sizzle is desperate to go for cocktails so she can have a good nose, and i'm sure that reactions will be forthcoming after a few beers. Countdown is also beginning for the bottom all metal brace on December 9th!

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

First brace experiences

The brace is now on, and I can report that so far it's all good :)

Yesterday morning was pretty tense, I'd barely slept the night before because of the anxiety, so I headed out feeling exhausted as well as full of sudden doubt about what I was about to do. The appointment itself started in the usual whirl of cleaning, suction and scraping, but before I knew it they were lowering the mould and I got my first chance to feel what the brace was like - the only way I can describe it is like finding a couple of London buses suddenly parked up along my teeth, they felt so bulky! The archwire went on next and Dr H started to talk through all the cleaning and maintenence, but by this point all I wanted was a mirror! My first thoughts on seeing my reflection was' hmmmm not too bad!'

As I got to work the realisation that I'd actually gone through with it suddenly hit, and I sat shellshocked at my desk staring into space for the next few hours. Reactions though, were good. No one noticed the brace (or my slighly impared speech) and were impressed by how unimposing it was. My first lesson in how to eat also came along quickly as I took a bite into my usual afternoon biscuit and felt a stab of pain shoot up my front teeth - so that's why they told me to eat soft food.

I was convinced I wouldn't sleep the night with this new contraption glued to my teeth, and fussing around with little brushes and wax seemed to take an age, but when my head hit the pillow I was out like a light. This morning the brace is already feeling quite normal and despite careful eating habits i'm already beginning to forget it's there.

I had a meeting with my boss earlier on and asked her afterwards if she'd noticed the brace. She said she hadn't and commented that it looked 'rather dainty'. Now that I was not expecting! She made my day :)

Still, I have bigger challenges ahead. On Sunday I visit my mother who's just arrived back from a long holiday. She doesn't know I've been braced and was still hoping I'd change my mind about the whole thing before she left so she's NOT going to be happy. If i'm lucky all i'll get is a dismayed look with a 'well as long as you know what you're doing' type remark. If she freaks out however I won't hear the end of it all afternoon. Fingers crossed it's the former!

Monday, 17 November 2008

No Turning Back

Dr H will be fitting my upper brace tomorrow at 9.30am, and I will be irrevocably set on the path towards surgery and a new jawline. I'm VERY nervous. What if I hate it? What if I can't bear the sight of myself in the mirror and panic? I had always imagined (hoped) that my brace would look weirdly cool in an unconventional sort of way, but now i'm worried that it will just look wierd. Still, it's not enough to put me off going through with the whole thing, as every time I have these doubts I just take a good look in the mirror - I hate my jawline and teeth now so imagine how they'll look in 5, 10, even 2o years! A glance at my family tells me how much more prominent this chin becomes with age. By then it will be too late to take action, and i'll be stuck knowing I had the chance to make the change all those years ago but didn't take it. Cue lifelong regret and frustration. So however much I freak out, NOT doing this would be a far scarier choice.

The last few days have been interesting. I havn't been able to resist the urge to examine my teeth at every opportunity - in the toilets, passing shop windows, even in the mirrored lifts at work (which has been somewhat embarassing when people have walked in and i've not noticed). It's like i'm taking a last look at the old me before the transformation starts to take place. Is it true that as your appearance changes your whole person changes also? I can't see myself walking out of Dr H's office in 18/24 months time without being changed by the process, but what those changes will be i've no idea.

Despite thinking of almost nothing else recently I have actually managed to keep my big brace news from a few of my colleages. Tomorrow morning when I breeze in to work with a cheery 'Hi guys' I wonder who'll notice and what they'll say?

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Ready or not...

Things are moving quickly! Had my final moulds taken yesterday morning and casually enquired when the brace would be ready, thinking it would be in December sometime. Dr H's response was 'oh, I think we'll pop on the top set on the 18th'. Hold on...that's only 12 days away. OMG panic, didn't realise it would be so soon! He'll put the lower set on three weeks later, and i'm rather pleased to be having a few weeks to get used it, hopefully it means i'll have adjusted to the feeling a bit more when the bottom set go on. Dr H also told me that he still hasn't decided how exactly he'll move the teeth, or whether he'll need to extract a front tooth or not. Watching him fiddle around with my casts however, as though struggling with a particularly troublesome rubix cube, makes me think it's inevitable.

Anyway, i'd now better get moving with my final preparations. I need some decent photos of my teeth and jaw as they are now, as well as stockpiling floss, interdental brushes, paracetamol and all the other dental paraphernalia that seems to go with brace wearing. Also planning to celebrate the start of this journey with a final blowout of stringy, sticky brace-hating foods next weekend. I'm definitely going to include melted cheeses on crusty bread and caramel cake on the menu. Apparently red wine and curry are also out as they have a tendancy to stain ceramic brackets. Better get stuck to those while I can :)

Thursday, 30 October 2008

On The Threshold

So here I am! After months of researching surgeons, speaking to dentists, reading blogs and general soul searching i've finally said yes to the big decision and chosen to go ahead with surgery. It wasn't the easy option mind you, choosing to spend the best part of two years in braces and having part of my head broken off and reattached half way through isn't for the faint hearted, so I'm writing this blog to record the impact it will have on my life.

Along with accounts of all the work as it progresses, i'll also be reflecting the reactions I get, the situations I encounter and the overall experience of combining this orthognathic journey with life in London as a 30 year old professional.

I kept my plans a secret for a long time whilst resesarching the whole process, and now having 'gone public' the reactions i've had have been mixed. Whilst A. merely nodded and said it sounded good - as though i'd just offered to nip out to pick up the paper - my colleagues were all very interested. My mother's scowl, on the other hand, told me all I need to know about her thoughts on the matter, and for the time being when we talk the subject is closed.

She'd better start getting used to it though, i'm off to get my final moulds taken next week!
(PS - Will put up some pics asap)