“The Road Goes Ever On and On…”

When we last met, summer had just begun and I was closing in on my one-year anniversary of bracedom.

Today, there is snow on the ground, and spring is lurking nearby (probably behind the Bradford pear at my folks’ house).

I still have braces. My metal mouthwear and I have had several exciting adventures during the past few several almost-year, including (but not limited to):

  • Power chain action
    • Because my teeth developed the Gap of Rohan on more than one occasion
  • Rubberbands everywhere
    • SO. MANY. TINY. RUBBERBANDS. Surprisingly, I lost only one (and found it a few months later…).
  • Wire gone awry
    • The entire bottom wire somehow slid just enough to come out of my farthest-back right molar bracket (the buh-looooood!).
      • Don’t worry; the ortho was able to set up an emergency appointment (thank you, Dr. B!). *whew*
  • O-ring severance
    • Chips will indeed do a number on your rubberbands, yo. (But my love for Kettle-brand crinkle-cut potato chips lives on!)
  • Tooth shaving
    • Sometimes you’ve gotta give a little to get a lot (i.e., give a little bit of tooth to get a lot of movement in the right direction).

I really, really wish that I had been able to keep you all up to date on the latest happenings in Orthodontialand, but it just didn’t happen. The past ten-ish months since my most recent post have been difficult. (I have been able to take only two vacation days during that span: the day after Christmas and the day after New Year’s, if that gives you any idea of the insanity that has been my life outside the blog.)

To compound that craziness, over the past year or so, my life goals and priorities have been shifting, and my compass slowly swung in a different direction than the one toward which I was so dutifully heading. The greatest evidence of this change is that I am quitting my job (don’t worry; my employer already knows😉 ). If you know me, you know that this is a hecka big deal, and not just because of the financial implications.

But all of that is a tale for another day and a different blog.

Returning to [Bracketed Brackets], I have continued to take photos of my braces journey, so I plan on at least having a grand finale of sorts, as well as a few spinoffs.:)

For those of you who have hung around, thanks for continuing with me on this adventure! We’re in the home stretch!

“Young lady, if your teeth get any more perfect, we’re just gonna have to take those braces off!” –Dr. B

Now I’m Back! From Outer Space!

In the holy-cow-nearly-three-months since I last posted, I have, in no particular order:

  • Purchased an abode (!!!)
  • Visited 12 states over a span of two-ish weeks (holla atcha, Onward, Indiana!)
  • Started drinking the CrossFit Kool-Aid (BRING ME YOUR JARS, FOR I CAN OPEN THEM NOW)
  • Cut my hair (twice)
  • Saw a cousin graduate (eyyyyyy, Bulldogs!)
  • Witnessed a dear friend get hitched (“Toast to the bride: a fairytale ending”)
  • Had a miniature adventure on an old joint reserve base with one of my BFFs (we found a bonfire and a four-wheeler and a lawn mower)
  • Worked from my phone more than at the office (O technology, how you doth save my vacation time and PTO)
Adventurers we!

Adventure is out there! Due south, in fact!

Actually, most of that was within the past month-point-five. (I haven’t gotten much sleep, and I’ve been home for only about 24 hours at this point. I don’t sleep in cars, for some reason, and I’ve been banned from eating peanut M&M’s for the foreseeable future.)

Anywho, my braces adventure continues, and, with a little help from InDesign, I hope to have another photo collage ready for your viewing pleasure soon. *fingers crossed* In fact, I have another ortho appointment this week, which will bring with it more pictures (huzzah!).

What have y’all been up to? Any marvelous adventures? Any fantastic frolics? Find any lawn-care machines in wholly unexpected places?

Baby, It’s Collllld Outsiiiiiiiide (and Inside My Mouth)

I went to the rodeo last month. My friend Mackenzie scored a handful of tickets and offered Niko and me the opportunity to go with her and her husband and a couple of our mutual friends.

Uhm, yes, please.

I hadn’t been to a rodeo in… years. Like, a shameful amount of years. Niko hadn’t been to a rodeo in, like, ever. Opportunity knocked, and we gleefully threw open the door and ushered it in. We may have offered it a beverage, too.

This rodeo shindig happened to occur the very same evening that a fierce cold front was blowing in. We did not acquire parking next to the event building and had to travel on foot from a location that, under not-arctic conditions, would have been conducive to a lovely, leisurely walk.

Not so that night. We sprinted across New Siberia as quickly as we could (as a member of our troupe is with child (and it’s not Yours Truly)). During round one, I pretty much kept my lips pursed as I shuffle-jumped with my hands jammed into my hoodie’s kangaroo pocket. Brrr.

The dash back to the vehicle, however, brought a whole new experience to my orthodontia’d mouth. Instead of pursing my lips, as I had on the maiden voyage, I chose to talk. I chose to talk, and I felt my teeth squirming.

Dear readers, it was cold enough to cause my braces hardware to contract and give me the sensation of having my teeth squeezed. It felt sort of like they were trying to zip a zipper that just wasn’t zippin’.

Everything returned to normal once I surrounded myself with air that wasn’t featuring a wind chill index of -200 degrees, but whew, it was a pretty odd feeling. My mouth doesn’t typically experience those kinds of temperatures, so it really took me by surprise. So, if you reside in a locale that has wildly bipolar temperatures, take note and remain calm. Everything will be all right.:)

Now, let’s take a ride in the Several Weeks Back Machine and visit a magical land in which I switched out this set…

Right thurr, right thurr!

This set right here.

…with a new one!

Aside from how nice they are (and the good work they do on my teeth), I love my orthodontist and his team for two other reasons:

  1. They play music I can jam to (quietly, of course… and still-ly).
  2. They always have HGTV on the television in the waiting room.

Niko and I don’t own a TV—well, that’s not 100% true. We own a TV that he got from an old buddy in the service, but we’re not sure whether it works (we’re pretty sure it doesn’t), and we haven’t tested it (will we ever? who knows?). We lack Netflix/Hulu as well, so TV access of any sort is kind of a treat. I lurrrrrrve it.

I’ve really gotten into a routine at the ortho office. I arrive, watch an episode of whatever’s on HGTV (ehrrmuhgerr, DIY!—I arrive at my appointments early #deepandabidinghatredofmorningtraffic), get called back, have removable hardware… removed, brush and floss (I live for flossing without wires!), have Dr. B examine my progress and make recommendations, choose a band color, silently jam to the music on the speaker system while the tech updates my orthodontic hardware, receive my “See Us Again in X Weeks” slip, make an appointment in four to six weeks, and frolic to the vehicle.

Boo yah.

There was a little deviation from that typical schedule during this particular round, though. While the tech was securing the rotation wire around my newest bracket, I heard a metallic *plip!* and the tech ceased twirling the rabbit-ear wires. My one-round-old bracket had just popped off.

Not to worry, though, for a new one soon took its place. In fact, Dr. B himself came over and performed, like, half the work on my braces this time while my tech attended to a grade-school kiddo. So I got to hear his banter with the techs a little better than usual, as well as a few more “Hmmmm”s and “All right”s and “Awesome”s. Based on his commentary, my teeth seem to be progressing very favorably. *fistpump*

When the time came to choose the new colors for my bands, I decided to mix it up a little. I went bold, if you will.

Madame Mix-a-Lot

Mixin’ it uuuuuuuuuup!

As a concession to February, the Month of All Things Pink and Red, my tech and I decided on light pink and red. The thing was, I forgot about the tendency of all bands to become a li’l paler once they’re applied to the brackets, so the light pink ended up looking white.

“OK, self,” I said, “go easy on the tomato sauce and red wine this month” (since I consume so much tomato sauce and red wine?).

Once the initial itchy soreness subsided (by the second day, I believe), this round went very smoothly. I did have a couple of instances in which I ate tomato sauce and sipped on some red wine, but I think the carrot juice I sometimes drink ended up tinting the lighter of the bands more than anything. It wasn’t horrendous, but it was noticeable (to me, anyway, but I see my teeth every day). Definitely something to keep in mind when choosing from the rainbow of band colors (*coughdon’tchoosewhitecough*).

Stay bracey, my friends.

The Rundown

  • What’re your orthodontia accessories? Every single brace (braces?).
  • Band color? Green and darker green. (Spoiler alert!)
  • Any pain today? None! Not even when I press on ’em.
  • What sort, would you say? Now that I’ve lived through several rounds of both the top and bottom braces, I’ve gotta say that the pain has lessened substantially—like whoa. This really surprises me, since my pain threshold is way, way low.
  • Do you miss anything? Right now, caramel. Doubly so because it hasn’t been OK’d on my new eating plan (much backstory exists here).
  • Looking forward to anything? Being able to see my teeth sans hardware again.
  • On the bright side… I love my Waterpik and wish I could take it with me everywhere!

Soap Operas, Makeover Shows, and Spring Fashion

For the braces record: I’m not sure popcorn is worth it. Eating it is like a soap opera for my mouth.

“Oh, popcorn! I know I shouldn’t be eating you, but you are exactly what I want to consume right now! You’re so wonderful, popcorn! And you come in a giant ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ tin! IN THREE IRRESISTABLE FLAVORS! We’ll be safe as long as your jealous little husks don’t realize that there are places into which they can get lodged!”

And then the corn husk is all like, “Rennie! I’ve discovered the non-space between your back two molars! We’ll be together forever now that I’m wedged between tooth and metal!”

The sound of synthesizer violins fills the room as my eyes well up with tears and I dash to the bathroom to bust out all my food-dislodging tools (God bless you, Waterpik).

Someone keeps bringing bagels to work, though, and that sordid love affair continues. I can’t resist them—although I’ve found that I have much less patience than I used to for bagels with any kind of transferable topping (e.g., cinnamon sugar). This is probably due to my inability to simply bite into the bagel, which forces me to tear it into slightly-less-than-bite-sized chunks with my bare hands (rawr?), leaving said hands and any other surface within three square feet open to sugary assault.

And now for something completely different: the captured-in-a-photo version of my teeth’s continuing journey to bracetastic completion! I present to you the following:

  • Top row: end of second round and beginning of third round
  • Middle row: end of third round and beginning of fourth round
  • Bottom row: end of fourth round and beginning of fifth round

Sidenote: You would be correct in noting that I should be on my sixth round (if you’re keeping track (but pleeeeeease, for the love of sugar cookies, tell me you have better things to do than calculate my braces adjustment periods!)). The sticking point is that I haven’t transferred those pictures from my camera to my computer yet.

All the single braces, all the single braces!

Just like those fancy makeover shows, except that you don’t have to wait 45 minutes for the big reveal.

PROTIP: If you click on the image, it’ll show up on its own in this window.

Crazy, huh?! My teeth are a-movin’ and a-not-really-shakin’! I’m not even halfway through my orthodontia odyssey and such progress has been made.

And check out that gap in my teeth on the bottom row. Pretty gnarly. They achieved that by threading a tiny, tiny spring onto my wire.

We got spring fever, spring feverrrrherrrherrrrrr! We know how to do it!

Because nothing says Halloween and Thanksgiving quite like orange bands on one’s dental hardware.

I took that picture right after I exited Dr. B’s office. By the end of the day, most of the gap you see had developed (please refer to the collage’s bottom left picture). In the span of one workday, the shocking power of a tiny piece of coiled metal had forced two of my teeth apart. Mindblowing. Who came up with this stuff?

The tiny spring and I became fast friends. I have a habit of pushing on my teeth with my tongue (braces or no), so this spring and my tongue became BFFs. Much mindless spinning occurred. It was great.

What wasn’t so great about my friend the li’l spring was the fact that, if my mouth happened to fall open while I slept, my inner lip would adhere to that sucker like Bubblicious to a first-grader’s pigtails. Not the most exciting thing to wake up to (especially when waking up before the sun crawls over the horizon), but I lived. So just be warned about the nighttime treachery you may have to endure if springs are a part of your orthodontic experience.

  • Milestone of note: My right-side crossbite has been corrected! (And there was much rejoicing!)
  • Uncertainty of note: I’m still not sure if I’ll eventually be prescribed rubberbands. Every so often, I consider inquiring after my rubberbandy future, but I end up deciding to let it remain a mystery. I’m along for the ride. It’s been fun so far.

Annnnnnnnnd that’s the view from here! Thanks for watching reading! Stay tuned for scenes from our next episode!

If You Give a Girl a Second to Write a Blog Post…

Do you remember that old Laura Numeroff book, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie? And how one thing led to another and everything snowballed and it was like, “Ahhh, mouse! Such chaos from such a simple request!”?

That’s kinda been my life.

If you give a Rennie a work task,
Many other work tasks will tag along!

If many other work tasks tag along,
Non-work activities and commitments will want to come with too.

And so forth. (Note to self: Re-read mouse-and-cookie book.)

This has led to many things, but chief among them as far as this blog is concerned is (1) a distinct lack of posts about my ongoing orthodontic experience and (2) no time (or patience, really) to learn how to bend Photoshop to my will for animation purposes.

Translation: There will be rather a few before-and-after-and-before-and-after pictures in my next formal post (i.e., my next blog post that isn’t an apology for not posting). You’ll practically get to watch my hair grow and get shorter and grow some more over the course of a few seconds (I think I had a haircut somewhere in there, but I’m about to take meat scissors to my bangs again and make poor pie-cut bang decisions).

Many thanks to those of you who have taken the time to visit this little attic corner of the interwebs in my absence! I hope to be less like a terrible pen pal in the new year (2014 bittylution? <– “bittylution” gleefully lifted from the one-and-only Roo).

In the meantime, know that my bottom teeth are sore… again. I thought I was going to escape it this time, since they didn’t really seem to make any huge changes to my hardware this morning, but I was deceived. Deceived by the simplicity.

But you know what they say: No pain, no all-liquid diet for several days.