Thursday, 3 December 2009
…with their voices soft as thunder”.
I am starting to experience pre-surgery nerves. During the day I am Miss Positive - totally happy, envisaging a perfect result, a smiling surgeon and a happy ending. Once I lie down to sleep however, my thoughts invariably turn in a darker direction, imagining things going wrong, suffering complications or terrible results, and I can’t seem to stop them.
All the surgery veterans out there would probably say that this is inevitable and not to dwell on the negative, but this new Crohn’s diagnosis has rather knocked my confidence for six. Now i’m having to refocus on my goal and work extra hard to banish those 3am terrors from my mind. It’s probably a good idea to stop reading any negative surgery stories, as they seem to crop up from time to time on archwired.com and terrify the life out of me. Best stick to the blogs of those who have gone before me and have had good results, as nothing is more inspiring that someone at the end of the process saying that all the stress and anguish is worth it. I’ve also started studying meditation techniques which will hopefully help in the build up to the Big Day.
Positive thinking, happy thoughts….
Tuesday, 24 November 2009
Things got better when Dr H. announced that he would indeed be taking moulds this session. At last! I’ve been promised a surgery date indication at my next adjustment once he’s played around with the teeth, but was a little disheartened to hear him telling his assistant not to worry if the moulds aren’t perfect as ‘they’re not surgical moulds yet’. Bugger! Here was me hoping i’d get the green light next time for surgery, but I guess this confirms that I won’t have to worry about eating my Christmas lunch through a syringe.
In other news, mum has started asking about the surgery date more and more! I think it’s a sign that she’s finally accepted that’s it’s going ahead rather than is happy about it so i'm still going keep quiet around her. I’m pretty sure the end result will speak for itself, and to all the naysayers i'm really looking forward to saying “I told you so!”
Next adjustment and (hopefully) big surgery date decision on Dec 17.
Wednesday, 4 November 2009
Speaking of the big day, I have my next adjustment on 12th November and i'm hoping for some further indication of a surgery month. Given I havn't yet had my moulds taken or elastics fitted I think I can safely assume December is out, so i'm going to keep my fingers crossed for early Jan.
Also hoping I can meet with Mr T. again soon, it's been over a year since i've seen him so it would be good to go over the plans again.
Teeth-wise all is pretty boring, the second molars are now tilting upright but everything else is the same. I can't see what else there is to do in there, but hey what would I know about the dark arts of orthodontistry?!
PS - Attention All the Better to Bite you with Kate! Hope you're out there and doing well, really miss reading your blog!
Monday, 21 September 2009
As you may recall from my previous posts, I was going through an incredibly stressful time at work and was struggling to deal with it emotionally. Well, this anxiety had a heavy price to pay as I became very ill and landed myself in hospital. To cut a long story short I ended up spending 10 nights there and came out with a diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease! This was devastating news and has taken me quite some time to come to terms with it, but now I’m on the road to recovery and am once again able to turn my attention back to my favourite subject :)
“So what’s this got to do with your teeth?” I hear you ask. Well, for a start I found out that Crohn’s causes mouth ulcers, which explains why i've been suffering from the pesky devils these past few years and why all my previous dentists' attempts at cures have failed (SLS free toothpaste, special mouthwashes, dietary changes, you name it I tried it), so anyone else out there who is suffering inexplicable canker sores may want to get themselves checked out. Also, my first concerns on hearing the diagnosis were the implications for my jaw surgery; what if Mr T. won’t operate because of it?! Surely I won’t have to give up after coming all this way?! With these alarming thoughts in mind I rushed along on Monday to my appointment with Dr H. and hesitantly broke the news. Luckily it’s nothing to worry about, Dr H assured me he’s had several patients with Crohn’s who have gone through with surgery and all have been ok. PHEW!!!
As for my progress update here’s the latest: Dr H extended my lower archwire so it now connects up to the 2nd molars on each side which are still tilted slightly downwards. My rotated lateral incisor has rotated back in to place nicely in the last 2 months and now only slightly overlaps the teeth on either side – this was the tooth that Dr H was planning to shave down, but the overlap is so small I’m not sure he’ll even bother. No sign of the dreaded elastics yet but with my teeth being more or less in place I’m sure they’re not far away.
I also asked about our original timeline for a December ‘ready’ date and he announced that he’d take moulds at our next appt in 6 weeks and would give me an answer once he’d looked at them. I’ve still got my fingers crossed for a Dec/Jan surgery date so will be keeping up the pressure to finish me off quickly. The thought of finally getting my teeth fixed was something that kept me going through the dark times in hospital, so it can’t come soon enough!
Wednesday, 8 July 2009
Now that I’m way past the 6 month mark I’m tentatively starting to feel like a brace ‘veteran’! Newbie posts on Archwired.com make me come over all sentimental about my initial days in braces, and I’ve got the fine art of under-archwire floss threading down to a tee. So in the spirit of my newly developed wisdom I’ve decided to revisit my old assumptions about how life in braces would be, for the benefit of any of those reading this who are about to set off on their own journey. Here are the top 4 assumptions I made just before I was fitted up:
That I would always HATE my brace. – FALSE
OK, so it’s hardly my most flattering feature, but my feelings of loathing towards it dissipated surprisingly quickly once I was fitted up, and it wasn’t long before the hardware was blending into my features so seamlessly that I felt I’d had it on for years. I still sigh in disappointment over my increasing underbite and will bite through wood to get away from a camera pointed in my direction, but when I look in the mirror I no longer see myself plus hideously disfiguring metalware, I just see me.
That living with a brace would be a big deal – FALSE
Anticipation turned out to be far worse than reality. After so long fretting over other people’s stares, gossip, reactions etc it came as quite a surprise that most people really didn’t give a monkeys. I guess this proves that it’s easy to get emotionally tied up in what seems like such a huge change to us, but in reality other people are too concerned with their own day to day lives to care about our life-dramas. Had I known this before I wouldn’t have spent 6 months hesitating before taking the plunge…
The pain would be terrible – TRUE and FALSE
An inevitable part of the process really. Everyone has their own pain threshold and there have been a few low points along the way. But on balance I don’t think the painful periods I’ve gone through outweigh the achievement of getting halfway toward surgery. Would I be happy going through the same thing for another 6 months? Definitely - no pain no gain as they say!
That i’d get bored talking/reading about teeth and orthognathic surgery – definitely FALSE
Surely, I thought, after a couple of months I’d become bored of the entire subject – BUT NO! Even after all this time i’m endlessly fascinated by it, and like nothing more than to talk and read about peoples experiences who are going through the same thing. Can’t seem to remember what I did with all that time before my brace came along, hope I don’t miss it too much when it’s gone :)
Wednesday, 10 June 2009
So I should be out celebrating all the good things going on right now, but committing myself to this process is now having serious consequences on my life. The company I work for has been heavily hit by redundancies recently, and now I’ve had to choose between taking severance or accepting a demotion in order to carry on here. If things were otherwise I would probably accept the payout, but I really can’t afford my orthodontics and surgery without a regular paycheck coming in. Jobs are thin on the ground right now, and even if I do eventually come across a good one my surgery could possibly be a matter of weeks away by then. Can’t see how any firm would be willing to take on an employee who’s looking for a month’s paid sick leave so soon when there are dozens of candidates for the job, so I’ve reluctantly taken the decision to accept the demotion. I can’t begin to express what a blow this is. Plan to get out of this situation quick sharp once I’m through surgery, but the thought of those months stretching out ahead of me between now and then is really hard to bear. Still, I said at the start I’d do whatever it takes to get this done, and it seems fate plans to test my resolve to the limit. Rest assured though, the moment I come round from the anaesthetic I’ll be reaching for my CV and pen…
Friday, 15 May 2009
Regarding my weekend away , there’s no good news on the mother front sadly: she only brought up the subject of my braces twice, first to comment that they must be difficult to keep clean, and then to remark that my teeth looked ‘rather stained’. Hardly the words of someone coming round to an idea. I just can’t understand why she won’t get over her reservations about surgery and start supporting me properly now that everything is set in stone! What’s worse is that i’m now feeling reluctant to go back home to recover post op, even though it’s by far the best place to be. Ironically she’d hit the roof if I said I wasn’t staying with her afterwards, but being looked after by someone who can barely disguise their disapproval doesn’t sound like much fun to me. Ho hum, guess i’ll see how things unfold in the next few months.
The weekend also brought up other unwelcome developments, I was browsing the photos from the party we attended and noticed that my underbite now looks worse than ever! The downward-chin-tilt trick that used to shrink my chin now exposes acres of space between my top and bottom arches when I smile, and my jaw juts out alarmingly despite my efforts to pull it back for photos. This, combined with the braces themselves turning my teeth into sludgy grey looking stumps, makes close up shots truly hideous. I hate them! There’s only really one thing to do - BAN photos of myself taken closer that 3 feet away. This could prove tricky given all the summer events I’m planning to attend, particularly at Royal Ascot next month. I’ll just have to wear an enormous hat which I can tilt towards any prying cameras that get too close!
Next adjustment is on 8th June. Dr H. was making threatening noises about hooks last time, so i’d better get the pain killers ready…
Tuesday, 28 April 2009
This was the question going around in my mind whilst on the way to Dr H’s yesterday, as despite being 5 months and several visits into the journey i’m STILL feeling hugely anxious on adjustment day, and tend to spend the preceding 24 hours coping with butterflies and jelly legs! I really need to start getting a grip of these nerves or heaven knows how I’ll react once surgery appears on the horizon, but for the moment I’m still taking a deep breath at the practice door and pushing my hands deep into my pockets, so that when I walk in no-one notices them shaking.
Needless to say I had nothing to worry about. Dr H. and the team put a new ugly wire of a higher number on the top (with a great deal of pushing and shoving I might add-my brackets never open or close without a fight) and swapped out the spring thingy on the bottom for one that was stronger. I’ve not really noticed any tooth movement going on since last time, including around the spring, but apparently there has actually been progress. Now we’ve only got a few more gaps to open and are waiting for the upper arch to completely straighten before things can move on. I also had a much needed clean to remove staining and build up – which is still causing me a lot of grief between visits, but Dr H. wasn’t able to find a cause for the bleeding and sensitivity that I’ve experienced recently, and speculated that increased pressure on the lower molars may be the cause (they are really the only teeth that meet up with the upper set), I was relieved to hear it wasn’t something more serious.
For the next visit Dr H’s assistant told me that I’d be getting a steel wire on top, along with a set of hooks. Hooks? Ouch! As an ulcer-prone individual that word sends a chill down my spine! I asked the purpose of these new torture devices and was told they would “hold elastics and close gaps”. Hold on – havn’t we been working on opening gaps all this time? The purpose of all this is rather lost on me – I can only conclude that my ortho truly does work in mysterious ways!
Still, I have bigger things to worry about: in two weeks I’ll be accompanying my mother to a 60th birthday in a city some distance from London, which will mean the two of us making the long journey together. I’ve deliberately stayed out of her way since she gave me so much grief about having surgery, but I’m hoping a few hours alone in the car will help clear the air. Not planning to bring up the subject directly but am hoping it will crop up whilst chatting. Surely she can’t ignore it for much longer?
Tuesday, 14 April 2009
The newest developments I have to report are extreme sensitivity whilst brushing around my molars and bleeding gums. Not sure what I’ve done to deserve this latest round of punishment as my dental regime is pretty good, but for some reason most brushing sessions in the past few weeks have led to varying amounts of blood on my toothbrush. I’ve managed to calm things down by re-introducing interdental brushes to my routine which seem to have done the trick, but it’s bumped my evening bathroom time back up to almost half an hour! Once i’ve got through the mouthwash, ordinary brush, pick-shaped brush, floss (the biggest time killer), interdental brushes, wax and mouth ulcer gel i’m lucky if I’m done in 20 minutes. What makes it worse is that A. gives his teeth a quick two minute scrub and is straight off to bed, and his teeth are as happy as Larry! It’ll be interesting to hear what Dr. H makes of it when I see him in two weeks. Does every other brace-wearer spend hours in the bathroom like this or am I setting some sort of new world record?
Happened to find out the other day that a certain St Appolonia is the Patron Saint of dentistry and tooth related problems. Wonder if she does braces and orthognathic surgery too? Might be a good time to offer up a few prayers as I could do with a bit of divine relief right now…
Friday, 6 March 2009
This time the adjustment lasted 50 minutes. Dr H announced it was time to increase the pressure on the top and brought out a strange looking rectangular wire for me. He also wanted to open out a gap in the lower set to bring back the tooth he rotated into alignment, fitting a spring device accross the teeth either side of it. Not sure why this is going on as I thought this was the tooth that was to be extracted or shaved down to ease crowding, but hey, he's the boss! He told me to come back in 8 weeks, by which time we should be making "good progress". Oooh, does that mean we can start involving Mr T in things? I really hope so!
But back to the square wire that's now fixed on top. At first sight I was NOT happy, it looks much thicker and more noticeable than my previous ones. It's also painful, and I spent the rest of the day trying to figure out if my throbbing head was down to the new wire or the hangover (I suspect a mix of both). A few days in and the rubbing has kicked in so i'm getting through a lot of wax, but i've chilled out a lot over the appearance as I doubt anyone other than myself can see much of a difference. Needless to say i've learnt my lesson about not going on massive benders just before appointments...
Wednesday, 18 February 2009
I shall be treating myself to a few glasses of champers this weekend, as today is the 3 month anniversary of my top brace fitting! I'm thrilled that i've reached this point with NO REGRETS about the whole thing, and if anything I'm now even more confident in my decision to go ahead with surgery and braces.
Wednesday, 4 February 2009
I've also got some great news regarding my mum - she actually asked after my brace!!! Back when I was first told her I was going through with surgery she got so upset that I havn't dared bring it up again, and ever since then it's been treated like some shameful family secret, not to be mentioned or spoken about. But the other day whilst chatting on the phone she comes out with "er..so how are things going..with the brace?". I was stunned into silence for a few moments before stammering "fine, fine!". Then a little while later she was talking about her holiday plans for the end of the year and said "i'll make sure I don't book anything until we know your operation date". Wow! Is she finally coming round to the idea? I hope so! I'm not going to say anything further until she brings it up again, and i'm sure she's still prefer that i'd caught leprosy than chosen surgery. But at least it's a step in the right direction!
So the next big date on the calendar is 2nd March for my second adjustment. I guess i'm through the 'first phase' of this process now that all the initial fittings and first adjustment nerves are out of the way, I suppose adjustments will become more routine with less excitement all round. But i'll still be biting my lip at each appointment, resisting the urge to ask about my surgery date - 6 months sounds a respectable amount of time to wait before I can bring it up so i've got until June. But each time i'm in the chair between now and then making small talk about the weather all i'll be thinking is "How's my progress? Am I moving quicker than you expected? HOW LONG DO I HAVE LEFT?"
Wednesday, 21 January 2009
Friday, 9 January 2009
One aspect, however, which is definitely NOT amusing me is my new appearance in photographs. I've been browsing through various shots of me taken over the christmas period and can't help noticing that my brace does not take a good photo. Not sure whether it's due to camera's inability to pick up the detail of a brace, but every picture taken of me from more than about half a meter away shows the inside of my mouth as a murky grey/brown smear, as though i'm suffering from some dreadful teeth-rotting disease! Even worse is when the flash catches one of the brackets and creates a twinkle, it just looks terrible. I have started to practice my mouth-closed smiles, but at the moment this just makes me look constipated. I think i'll stick to ducking behind other people from now on.
I also enountered a situation over christmas that reminded me not to get too complacent about eating out in braces. It was the 27th December and A. and I decided to check out the sales at a new shopping centre that has just opened in West London. Needless to say it was bedlam, and after several hours in the shops we were both starving. We looked around for food places, but they all seemed to be either packed out or had huge queues outside. We trawled up and down looking for anywhere that had space and finally squeezed into a french cafe, only then to realise that they served hard, crusty filled baguettes! I was so hungry I had a go cutting one up with a knife and fork (much to the amusement of the waiters) and when that didn't work, resorted to scraping out the filling with a fork and eating it that way. Hardly enjoyable, or diginified, so i'll remember to think ahead and take an emergency banana out with me in case I get caught out again :)
So it's only 10 days now until the dreaded 'First Adjustment'. Seems that some other ortho-bloggers have found this more painful than the initial fitting, so i'll keep some painkillers to hand, just in case. I also have a few questions for Dr. H which i'll report on in my next post, i'm tempted to ask about timescale until my surgery but it's probably a bit soon!