Friday, December 16, 2016

No More Braces!

Well, it's time for a braces update! Sorry it's kind of long-winded, that's just my way and you should know that by now!

Shortly after my last post, I woke up one morning to find that left molars were making just the slightest bit of contact. I was shocked, to say the least. We continued trying to pull them together until October, when my orthodontist agreed that it was probably as good as it was going to get, and it's getting to be time to take the braces off and just accept imperfect results.

I had another appointment in mid-November and I was so excited and nervous about whether he'd bring up removing the braces. At the very end, he said they were ready to come off any time, so I wanted the next available appointment! They actually had the next day but cautioned me I'd just had an adjustment so it's better to wait. In the end, I waited 13 days and those days dragged so slowly.

I was kind of hoping I would get a specific assistant at my removal appointment because she's always been so nice and supportive. She's been working on me since the very beginning. I remember she told me when I first got started in 2013 that they have some patients that they just know are going to have a really beautiful smile, and I was one of those people and she was looking forward to seeing my results. Fortunately, she was assigned to me for my removal so I was happy about that.

I'd read several blogs, talked to people I knew who had braces, and watched several videos about the removal process so I would be prepared. In the end, I felt like the process wasn't as bad as I'd heard. There were only a few moments of pain and they were over quickly. I had forgotten to take ibuprofen beforehand and I was fine.

When I finally got to look at my naked teeth about an hour after the start of the appointment, my teeth looked HUGE! I had heard other brace faces say that about their own teeth and I was convinced I wouldn't think that. I think it's just the shock of seeing so much unobscured white. Speaking of white, I was also shocked to see I had zero staining from the braces. I had always just assumed I would need to do a round of whitening afterwards because of how much black coffee I drink. I also didn't think I did that great a job of brushing, but the assistants told me I'd taken good care of my teeth. I do have one cavity, where one of the molar bands was.

I spent the rest of the day in Sarnia seeing people I knew and enjoying food! It was very strange eating my first meal sans braces, which I did very soon after leaving the orthodontist. It was just as weird as the first meal with braces, but the opposite feeling of weirdness, if that makes sense. It felt amazing. I love chewing without braces, it's still a novelty to me.

Two weeks later, I picked up my retainer, a purple Hawley (the kind with the wire). I decided to purchase an Essix (invisible tray style) to wear during the day because I have to wear a retainer 24/7 for the first year, and I am sick of having metal on my teeth.

Aside from that fun, I am still battling jaw pain and tightness, which I have been since the surgery. Some days are worse than others. Sometimes my jaw clicks relentlessly while I eat, and sometimes it doesn't at all. I would have to say that as far as TMJ symptoms, it become quite a bit worse since surgery. I probably need to go back to my physiotherapist and start actively working on stretching my jaw more.

So after all this, things aren't perfect. My left side still doesn't make contact other than my canine and my second molar. I think my surgeon should have tilted the left side of my jaw down since I have a slight cant. The right side of my lip lifts up noticeably higher, making the cant look worse. I will post a photo that shows both of these things. I am a little disappointed by these things and I do think I should have gotten a second opinion before I had the braces taken off. I don't regret not getting another opinion, but it will always be a "what if" in my mind.

Overall, I am happy I went through everything and I am happy despite falling short of the expected perfection. I am a little self-conscious of my wonky lip but I honestly doubt most people will ever notice it. Mostly, I'm just glad to be done. So. Freaking. Glad. I just want to get back to a place in life where I'm not thinking about my teeth all the time. At this point, I've spent considerable time thinking about my teeth every single day for three years. One could argue that it's not emotionally healthy to be so focused on something like that for so long.

The very first no-braces selfie I took!

My new friend, Hawley. We'll be going to bed together every night for the rest of my life.

Retainer smile.

Here's where you can see that my lip isn't symmetrical, worsening my slight cant. It wasn't from surgery; it's been like that for years.

Before and after

And here's some of the garbage I went through to get where I am now:

The day I got my RPE installed, but before any treatment had actually begun. RPE = hell. This is THE "before" photo!

Hey Jaime, The Gap called...

Two days post-op from double jaw surgery + sliding genioplasty

Trying really hard to smile two weeks post-op.

Elastics prison.

Now you'll find me staring at my teeth in any reflective surface I can find!

I did two vlogs recently as well. One right before I got my braces off, and one the day after. Here they are:

If you're reading this in the future, feel free to ask my questions about SARPE, braces, and/or jaw surgery. I'd be happy to answer your questions.

I also recommend acquainting yourself with ArchWired which has been an invaluable part of this process for me. Check out the Metal Mouth forum while you're there. You may even run into me on there, I'm still an active poster and probably will be for awhile.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

25+ Months of Braces & 13 Months Post-Op Double Jaw Surgery

I haven't written about my braces stuff in awhile as it's been mostly boring and annoying.

Yes, that's right, I STILL have my braces on! When I originally went for my surgical consultation in 2013, they said I would have to keep the braces for 6-12 months after surgery. I'm now 13 months post-op and will have the braces until at least September at this point.

If I understand my orthodontic appointments, it seems like everything is good to go EXCEPT that my left side still doesn't make contact. We tried with elastics last year from July to November and if there was any movement, it was minimal. We gave up trying when my overjet relapsed and focused on that instead. Now that overjet is fixed, we're trying again to close the left side. I asked my orthodontist if he's ever seen a case where the second attempt at elastics worked after a failed first attempt. He said, "I've never seen it not work the first time." Ugh.

I had an appointment on Tuesday and I was so certain he'd agree that it wasn't improving, and I could tell him to forget about it and just remove the braces. However, he seems to think the bite IS closing a little bit so we're going to continue trying for another 7 weeks.

It was the first time I left an appointment trying not to cry. Sure, it's great that maybe the bite is closing (I disagree that it is) but I've been feeling DONE with this for a long time. At this point, I feel like I'm being dragged unwillingly to the finish line. I just want it to be over. I don't care anymore.

As mentioned, I'm 13 months post-op. I saw my surgeon in February and again in June. As far as he is concerned, everything looks really good. He did recommend I go for physiotherapy to help with my ROM, and I have been going since late April. At the start, I could only open 30-33mm (I forget), but I'm now up to 40mm which is the low end of normal, but it's as far as my physio thinks I can do with my small mouth.

Eating has gotten much easier now that I can open my mouth more. Chewing has also been slowly improving, although I'm not back to 100%. I suspect it'll be a couple of years after the braces come off that it'll really feel strong again. I have had a steak which did hurt my mouth a bit, and carrots are still a no-go.

Swelling is all the way down and stays down now. It really does take a year for it to stop fluctuating. My nose seems bigger now that the swelling is completely down, which sucks. I really enjoyed how small it looked immediately after surgery.

The roof of my mouth behind my front teeth is still numb but I generally don't notice. Occasionally this results in me accidentally spitting food out if I'm eating while socializing. I'm not sure if it's the braces or the numb palate, but I am still kind of a sloppy eater. The only way I've actually noticed my chewing has improved from all of this work is that I can take nice clean bites with my front teeth. That really is an amazing feeling that most people are totally oblivious to.

The front of my chin still has reduced feeling but is verrrrrry slowly improving. I think my upper gums are numb but it's hard to tell. SARPE left me with some nerve weirdness over my right canine and bicuspid.

Overall, I'm annoyed and it's been difficult to keep a positive outlook. It's a big part of why I haven't updated my blog. Just writing this stuff makes me angry. Two of the people I met online who also had double jaw surgery last June still have their braces and even though I think we're all pretty frustrated, it is SO good to know I'm not alone. Whenever I google something like "1 year post-op double jaw surgery," almost everybody has their braces off. If I didn't personally know others going through the same thing, I think I would be in a much worse place mentally.

I did vlogs every month for a year, and here is the latest one:

Friday, June 17, 2016

Things I Like Lately: June 2016 + My Favourite YouTube Videos

I have a braces and jaw surgery post in the works right now, but it's time for another rendition of Things I Like Lately!

Walkerville Honest Lager

Like many a millennial, I enjoy a good craft brew. My taste for dark beers waxes and wanes...right now I'm on a lager kick. The local brewery, Walkerville Brewery, has an excellent lager called Honest Lager. It's refreshing! I do wish they came in regular 355mL cans, though. Sometimes 473mL makes me a little too sleepy to do anything productive after work.

The Hills
Anthony came into Windsor last week and demanded suggested we go to a used video game store. I obliged of course, and discovered they sell used DVDs, too. I got the first three seasons of The Hills for $17. If you didn't know, I am not above liking complete and utter trash. See: my love for fast food and pop music.

The kids from The Hills are the same age as I am, so it's fun to look back on fashion of 2005-2006. It's a lot uglier than I remember it. It's also slightly disturbing that all their underaged drinking isn't acknowledged at all. I think the most enjoyable thing is realizing how far we've all come from being 20 year olds. I'm not a rich kid from southern California, but I -- like a lot of these celebs -- am now settled with a good job and a wedding ring.

Hair Straightening Brush
I keep seeing ads for StraightFix on my Facebook feed lately. It looked interesting and there were MANY positive reviews for it. They were asking $70USD for one, which is apparently "50% off" although I could find no proof they've ever actually sold one for $140. Fortunately I'm not a sucker, and I checked Amazon before committing myself to $70USD ($90CAD).

As it turns out, the brush StraightFix sells is some sort of generic brush that is rebranded and sold by several different companies. I found the exact same brush for as low as $12USD. I decided to spend a bit more and go with a reputable Amazon store, and got one for $20USD ($25CAD) with Prime shipping. Score.

I've tried it out a few times and it works really well! If you're used to using a flat iron, I would describe the brush as doing about 90% of the work in about 5 minutes. It's good enough that you can go from wild, unstyled hair to something presentable in 5 minutes. It won't be perfect, but it'll be decent.

Video of Deer Screaming
I'm over it now, but I think I've watched this 1000 times earlier this month. I never knew deer screamed like this, and it's hysterical. I love how nonchalant the deer looks about screaming bloody murder.

1980s-1990s Nostalgia
Since turning 30 last month, I've been on this nostalgia kick. I love looking at lists of 1990s toys. The greatest thrill comes from seeing something you completely forgot about. This list brings back quite a few memories. This Old Toy is also a great reference for Fisher Price toys spanning 1931-2000. Retro Junk also has some really fun articles about various 1980s-1990s toys, food, TV shows, and more.

It was hard to decide on a photo for this one, but I went with my main obsession as a 3-5 year old kid: good old Alf.

This photo of my brother and I accurately depicts being a child in 1990. Oh, there I am in his hand-me-downs again!

SimCity SNES
Going along with my 1990s nostalgia and the visit to the used video game store, I got it in my head that I needed to beat SimCity SNES once and for all. I tried and tried as a kid on an actual SNES, but also never came close as an adult with the Wii's virtual console. This time, I wisened up and read some guides on how to beat the game, which is to achieve a population of 500,000+.

On Wednesday, after trying for 3 or 4 days and at least as many attempts, I finally did and man, did it feel good. My 12 year old self would be proud.

P.S. If you're looking for other videos I have been obsessed with at one time or another, look no further:

Cracks me up every time.

Every election time, I am reminded of this excellent parody.

I always loved this even in the 90s, but I watched it a lot when I found out I was going to be an aunt, too. :)

Probably my #1 favourite.

This is real, and you probably should turn the volume down if there are children present...

This one is too good not to watch.

Anthony and I still quote this, nearly 6 years on.

My favourite commercial.


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Things I Like Lately: March 2016

It's been a few months since I did one of these so here we go!!

Major Lazer
Electronica is definitely my music genre of choice, and has been since I was a kid. Since I decided to end my Sirius XM subscription, I now have to scour the iTunes charts to find new music.

Major Lazer came up as the #1 electronica album back in December and I was all over it. I think I like the second album better than the first, but there are some good tunes on the first one. I like to listen to Major Lazer when I drive to hockey as it gets me pumped up.

Grimes' new album Art Angels was also the #1 on iTunes' electronica charts a few weeks after I got into Major Lazer. I had heard of Grimes but knew nothing about her. The album was a good transition from Melanie Martinez who also does dark, sombre electronic pop. Well, I must have listened exclusively to Art Angels for 2 or 3 weeks straight. When I get really into an album, I end up getting obsessed with one song at a time. I went through each song on Art Angels and obsessively listened to each one for a day or two, before my brain would get obsessed with another song.

Fuller House
I grew up watching Full House like so many others so I'd been excited about the Fuller House return. I haven't finished the whole season yet but I plan to this week. Truthfully, the show is pretty awful, but it's entertaining enough and a nice trip down memory lane.

This is a Netflix show which only has one season out. I watched all of it pretty quickly. It's kind of like Fuller House in that it's not very good, but it's entertaining and watchable. The characters are pretty detestable which is part of the concept of the show, but I found the two main characters' personalities kind of inconsistent and poorly written. They were missing that "awful but loveable" quality like Al Bundy, Walter White, or the cast of Seinfeld. It made it hard to really dig the show or characters, but I will probably watch season 2 when and if it comes out.

All of the good moments from season 1 are in this trailer, BTW.

Korean Dramas on Netflix
I was home in Sarnia one weekend in February. I was coming down with a cold and buzzing from beer, and somehow I started watching a Korean drama on Netflix. I watched 5 hours' worth in one sitting. I don't know a lot about k-dramas but the episodes are longer than North American shows, but there are fewer of them. They're somewhere in between a mini-series and a full season of a show. I don't know if they're all romantic dramas like the one I watched (the trailer is below), but it was basically like watching a 16-hour-long Nicholas Sparks movie. I was fuckin' hooked, yo.

This one is called "This is My Love" on Netflix, although it goes by various names.

New Royal Family Photos
Last time I did one of these updates, there were new photos of Charlotte. I started this entry the night before more photos were released which is kind of a funny coincidence. I love seeing new photos of George and Charlotte.

I don't even care how nerdy it is that I love the royal family.

National Joint Council Relocation Directive
The NJC RD is the policy that governs federal employee moves. This one is mainly a joke but I threw it in because dun dun dun...I am FINALLY moving to Windsor. It's been a long four years waiting for this to happen and it still sort of feels like I'm dreaming!

In case you're wondering, I will live in Windsor for a year while my US visa (green card) application is in the works. We submitted the paperwork in December, so presumably I will have the visa in hand sometime in early 2017. After that, I will move to Ann Arbor and begin commuting to Windsor. I have no plans to find a job in Michigan.

Come visit me in Windsor! I will finally be able to host guests as I won't be living with a parent anymore! I have a pull-out couch and can make a mean omelet!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

8 Months Post-op Double Jaw Surgery & Sliding Genioplasty

It's been three months since I made an update about my jaw, so I figured I would write a new post.

I've been keeping up with my vlogs on YouTube every month because it's easier to make a video than it is to type up an entry, take photos, and then upload said photos. So check out my channel here.

The inside of my mouth feels completely normal now. The nerves in my palate right behind my front teeth might be damaged, but I can't really tell. I don't know how sensitive it was before the surgeries or if that part of the palate is just dull for everyone. For instance, if I rub a finger along that spot, I don't really feel it. But I'm sure I would feel it if I was poked with something sharp.

It continues to go up and down. I looked really swollen in my 7-month post-op video and I have no idea why. I don't notice the fluctuations unless I've made a video or taken a photo and compare it to old ones.

This continues to improve slowly. Still can't chew raw veggies. I tried to bite into a slice of grilled carrot in January and it made me sore for a few days. If something is difficult to cut with a butter knife, chances are, I will struggle to chew it. But I don't feel too restricted anymore...the only things I consciously avoid are raw vegetables, steak, and crispy bacon.

Ortho Appt:
I had an orthodontist appointment last week. To my dismay, I am back in class II triangle elastics because my overbite has relapsed again. I've been extremely frustrated for months because it seems I've gotten no closer to getting my braces off. My ortho and I had a good conversation about it, and he actually admitted that I am not progressing properly. He is "puzzled" about why my bite won't close on the left, and why my class II keeps relapsing. I also still have limited ROM in my jaw; I can't open as far as I should be able to, nor can I move my jaw forward or side to side.

Two days after my appointment, I got a call from the surgeon's receptionist saying he wanted to see me, "ASAP." Ugh. I am going on Monday to get another x-ray. I hope I get some answers as to why things aren't going well. I've relaxed now but for a few days I was petrified I was going to need another surgery.

I do have some good news that sounds like bad news. In December, my TPA wire started bothering me all of a sudden one day. I called the ortho's office and they had me come in immediately. The right side of the wire was embedded in the tissue so my ortho removed it and said it can stay out unless necessary. I was thrilled. It still feels weird to have my tongue rest in my palate completely. I am still super aware of my palate all the time but it's getting better. I no longer have a lisp when saying K sounds which is great. I will admit that now that it's out, I realize it really wasn't that obtrusive.


Not sure why the quality of this photo is so bad, sorry.

Swelling pretty much gone.

I love how I look from the side now, big improvement.

And in case you forget what I looked like pre-surgery:

I still have some lip incompetence.

Open bite.

Latest Video:

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