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Posted on May 1, 2014 in Dear Diary | 6 comments

Lingual Braces: Four Months In

Hi folks!

So I figured it might be interesting for those of you who are in any way, shape, or form invested in the state of my teeth (so… really just interesting for me, then) to get a little update on how the whole lingual braces thing is going! Fair warning, you’re about to see lots of up-close-and-personal photos of my mug, haha.

For reference’s sake, feel free to click back for a refresher on how I was feeling during Week 1 (hint: it wasn’t good) and Weeks 2 & 3 (MUCH better).


January 28, 2014, the day I got my braces


March 27, 2014

I had my 3rd adjustment last week, and I definitely feel as though I’m seeing a serious difference in my teeth. The right side of my upper teeth in particular seem almost completely straight to me, which is awesome. The slight overlap between my two front teeth is also straightened out, though my left front tooth still protrudes juuuuuust slightly.


Day 1 vs. today! (Whitening will come later, hahaha!)

The left side of my teeth have also improved, but since that was much worse to begin with, it’s still got a bit of a ways to go. The difference between my left canine and the tooth next to it (what I used to UNaffectionately refer to as my shadow tooth, since if the light hit me wrong I sometimes looked toothless ahahahhha) is much diminished, though still not straight.

As for the extreme tongue discomfort that I experienced in the beginning, it’s pretty much a non-issue at this point. I don’t use wax anymore, and it doesn’t hurt at all. At my adjustment last week, they clipped the wire that was extending past my actual brackets, which has been causing a smidge of annoyance because my tongue is getting used to the feeling of the clipped end of the wire now, but it’ll be good in the long run because I was getting food stuck on the wire ALL the time.

Adjustments are still a huge pain — literally — because I pretty much can’t eat anything solid for the two days following, but otherwise I’m definitely getting used to that too. Once the pain subsides, I’ve found that I can eat most things, though I still follow common sense about what to try my luck on. As long as I don’t mind thoroughly brushing my teeth afterwards, I’ve even found I can eat corn on the cob and stuff like that!

Thankfully, my lisp also pretty much disappeared after the first couple of weeks (or, at least, that’s what people tell me). The lisping does seem to get temporarily worse for about a week following my adjustments, strangely. Maybe because my teeth are so sensitive and my whole mouth just feels a little weird? Meh. As long as it is just temporary, I’m cool with it.

So there you go! My four-month update on the lingual braces front. As far as I know, my predicted length of treatment is still less than a year in total, though I haven’t been told if there’s an exact amount of time left or not. Until then, guess I’ll just keep smiling!

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Posted on Feb 20, 2014 in Dear Diary | 4 comments

Lingual Braces: Weeks 2 & 3

So after my initial bitching session post about what having my new lingual braces is like, I feel it’s probably time that I update you on how I’m doing with them now.

Not surprisingly, just a few days after I spent like 1000 words complaining about how much my tongue hurt, my teeth hurt, and how miserable I was, things got much, much better. My tongue did indeed get used to the metal and is no longer hurting. My lisping is like 800% better (in my opinion), and really the only thing that still catches me are my S’s. But I’m definitely getting used to it, and some folks tell me that they can’t really notice… though I don’t really believe them, hahaha.

My teeth also have stopped hurting, some of them just still feel loose — which is admittedly a semi-scary feeling, because even though logically I know that my teeth aren’t going to fall out of my head, I had a dream that they did and now it’s like all I can think about. Also, biting into stuff still isn’t as easy as it used to be, though I can eat most things without too much incident (no gum or caramels or biting into apples still though).) It’s just mostly annoying because stuff gets stuck in there really easily – especially rice and stringy things like cooked onions. Also, sandwiches are still a bit of a challenge… which is super sad because I loooove sandwiches. Womp womp.

But all in all, things have really turned around almost 180*, so I am no longer hating the world and regretting this decision. Huzzah! Since it’s only been a couple of weeks I can’t see any kind of difference yet, but hopefully when I go back to the ortho in a couple of weeks he’ll have an estimate of how long it’ll really take to get my chompers nice and straight — since the only timeline I’ve been given so far is the very specific prediction of “probably less than a year.”

I have my first wire adjustment the second week of March, so I’ll be back to update you again on how things are feeling after that!

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Posted on Feb 3, 2014 in Dear Diary | 17 comments

Lingual Braces: Week 1

Since today marks the 7th day of the self-imposed torture that is lingual braces, I figured it would be fitting to give you guys an update. Knowledge being power and all that. Beware: an uncomfortable number of uncomfortable-looking selfies is about to follow.

Procedure: The actual process of getting the brackets attached was very straight forward. No drilling, no grinding, just my mouth being propped open (more comfortable than it looks, actually!) while a dental prodded around in there to clean and prepare my teeth for bonding, and then the orthodontist coming in to attach each individual bracket (I have 8 total) and insert the wire. There was some gel stuff that tasted horrible, and some UV light wand stuff, but it wasn’t painful or even that uncomfortable. It was fast, too — I think the total amount of time I spent at the orthodontist’s was 1 hour and 15 minutes, and that included talking to the orthodontist for a while and getting new photos and x-rays taken of my teeth.

Aesthetics: As you can see from the photo above, in which I’m rocking my colors for the big game — the Puppy Bowl, of course — my braces are virtually undetectable. In fact, the only way you’d be able to see them is if you were looking up at an angle, into my mouth.

Or if I was eating a hand-mirror.

In fact, you’re more likely to see the fillings in my back molars than you are to see my braces. Which is great, because obviously the aesthetic factor is the entire reason I chose this method of tooth straightening… and is pretty much the only good thing about them so far, because unfortunately it’s all downhill from here.

Speaking: Speaking is a total bitch. There, I said it. I knew that I would likely have some kind of lisp or impeded speech when the braces were inserted, but I didn’t think it would be as bad as it is. In fact, when I first got the braces put in, my lisp really wasn’t that bad, but it worsened by about 500% the next day. I think this is because my tongue got irritated after the first day, swelling up slightly, getting cut up, and it just hasn’t gone back to normal yet. So my lisp is exacerbated by the fact, in addition to the metal brackets taking up space behind my teeth, my tongue feels bigger and my mouth feels simultaneously dry AND producing more saliva than normal.

Every article I’ve read, video I’ve watched, and forum I’ve browsed says that speaking will get better, and my lisp will let up as I get used to the braces, but right now I have to admit that it feels like that will never happen. I’m super self-conscious about how I sound, and it sucks, especially when you talk as frequently and emphatically as I do.

Pain: Immediately after the braces went on, I felt a little pressure on my teeth but I wouldn’t say it hurt. In fact, the entire first day I was basking in my clearly superior pain tolerance and how easy this was going to be. Of course, I ended up eating my words (since I can’t eat much else) the very next morning, because as soon as I woke up my gums (and head) were throbbing. The pain of my actual teeth moving, however, is fairly manageable because ibuprofen works pretty well against it. You know what ibuprofen doesn’t work too well against though? Tongue pain.

Ugh, the tongue pain. For some reason it did not occur to me in the slightest that my tongue would get irritated — actually, I think pissed off is a more accurate term — from having all this metal imposed into its space. I thought about the tooth pain — pain I’ve experienced before from my teenage battle with braces — and knew I’d be able to handle that, but I never considered the tongue part. IT HURTS. My tongue basically has cuts all down the sides from where it rubs up against the write that is poking out from the last brackets. It doesn’t actually hurt on the tip of my tongue, where it touches the brackets on my front teeth, but hot damn, the side/back of my tongue is KILLING me. And to make matters worse, I’ve developed a canker sore/tongue ulcer/hot white spot of DEATH on the underside of my tongue, which hurts so much that touching it actually makes me cry. It hurt so much Saturday night that I could barely sleep (I picked up some Orajel to numb it, but unfortunately that stuff only works for like, 10 minutes at a time. And it tastes awful and it makes my throat feel weird and numb when I swallow it.)

So unfortunately, there isn’t much I can do except pray that, just like how I got blisters on my fingers when I taught myself how to play the guitar, eventually my tongue will develop some kind of callus or otherwise adapt. And pray that it will happen SOON. I have wax that I can put over the wires and brackets to help a little bit (you can kind of see it in the mirror pic above), but a lot of damage was already done by the time I started using it, so even with the wax it still hurts when anything comes in contact with the raw part of my tongue… which it does every time I swallow, or speak, or chew, or do anything really. This is the primary reason why it’s been a torturous experience thus far.

Eating: Well, I suppose you could see this as a good thing or a bad thing, because, yes, eating has definitely changed for me. The first couple of days, biting down was quite painful — in fact, anything touching my teeth pretty much sucked. So I could eat soft, easily-swallowable stuff (soups, stew, applesauce, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, mussels, etc.) and *kind of* chew it (since I don’t have brackets on my back teeth), but biting into anything with my front teeth was (and still kind of is) out of the question. Mostly I found myself “chewing” with my tongue — by pushing the soft stuff up onto the roof of my mouth with my tongue. Unfortunately, this caused more irritation to my tongue because it meant even more contact with the pokey wires.

As my teeth themselves don’t hurt quite as much now, I’ve found I can bite things a little more easily — though, of course, I then risk getting food stuck in my braces. I’ve successfully eaten pasta, a muffin, a chicken wing, and even like two bites of a burger before I just decided to fork-and-knife it. Chewing with my back teeth isn’t too bad, except for the aforementioned tongue-rubbing… I guess I don’t really need to go on. The basic point is we use our tongue for everything, and having it be all busted up is awful in many ways. I also eat INCREDIBLY slowly, which I guess is the good part, because I get full more easily and am obviously (as evidenced by my calorie counts from last week) eating a lot less. I guess it’s also good/bad that I’m brushing my teeth 8329429489 times a day now (after every single meal, snack, non-water beverage, and sometimes just because my teeth/tongue feel nasty) so I should have the cleanest and whitest teeth in the world by the time this is over.

Other thoughts: As you already know, I decided to only get braces on my top teeth, feeling that my top teeth are what bothered me because they are so visible, and thinking there wasn’t too much wrong with my bottom teeth. HOWEVER, my orthodontist felt quite differently. He was, in fact, very clear to point out all the ways that my bite sucks, my teeth as a whole are jacked, and warned me several times about how fixing my top teeth would do nothing to align my bite or fix all the things that are wrong with my teeth. (Judgy much?) So, unfortunately, that consultation only served to highlight how le terrible my bottom teeth are, when I didn’t really have a problem with them before.

Of course, aside from the whole aesthetic thing, there’s also the fact that opting to only work on my top teeth is much, MUCH less expensive than an entire mouthful of braces. Alas, though, all this time spent looking at my mouth and teeth is making me SO aware of my bottom teeth crowding and my bite… I dunno. I may look at getting them fixed at some point in the future as well. It’s not really helping that for some reason, on days 5 + 6 my bottom teeth started hurting a little bit too — even though there’s no braces on them! I wonder if it’s like, teeth sympathy pain, or if it’s because my bite as a whole is being shifted ever so slightly. I’ve heard it’s pretty popular for people to get traditional braces on the bottom since they aren’t so readily visible, but I’m unsure. Guess that’s a bridge I’ll cross if/when I come to it.

At this point in time, I’d be lying if I said it’s been worth it. This experience has been way more painful than I anticipated, I think I sound awful when I speak, and while I can already tell it’s working (my teeth aren’t straight yet or anything, of course, but one has already moved enough so that one of my bottom teeth doesn’t touch one of the brackets anymore when I clench my teeth, which it did when they were first applied), I’m just generally miserable. I know I did this to myself, so I really shouldn’t complain, but believe me when I say that you would be complaining too. The thought has already occurred to me more than once to just throw in the towel and call it quits, although the fact that I probably wouldn’t get my $1,000 down payment back is a big influencing factor in attempting to stick it out.

After all, it’s only been a week, and they all say it gets better, so it has to, right? RIGHT?!

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Posted on Jan 30, 2014 in Dear Diary | 15 comments

Investing in Me

I have never been what most would call “frugal.” I am not thrifty, I am not a couponer, I am not a price-comparison shopper, I am not a budgeter. I am, to the endless annoyance and bewilderment of my far more financially responsible sister, one of those people that just buys stuff.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to be tacky or insensitive or bragging about my privilege or anything like that, I’m just being honest. I recognize that I’m very fortunate to be in a position where I can buy most of the stuff that I want without having to plan for it — and, of course, I’m not talking about impulse-buying $1000 handbags or giant plasma screens or any huge ticket items like that. I’m just talking about things like the sushi dog plushie I ordered off of Etsy, or my Stitch Fix (and BirchBox… and Julep…) subscription, or the two pairs of Seychelles shoes that I purchased off Amazon last night.

So, yes, I am very fortunate to be in a place right now where, between my full-time job, my book sales, my blog income, and various other projects (like the occasional photo gig or shooting weddings with Ben), I do have a bit of disposable income. And while it has been important for me to have that buffer, not so that I can shower myself with gifts but so I can afford things like Daxter’s most recent trip to the emergency vet, I’ve recently (or, rather, finally) come to the conclusion that my money could most definitely be better well-spent.

I’m not much of an investor. I mean, I have my 401(k), and I have a Roth IRA set up, and now that I work for Yelp I have some stock option stuff that I still don’t fully understand, but I’ve never devoted too much of my time to figuring out where to invest my money. Most of my extra money ends up going into my savings account, and I’ve always been fine with the 0.004% dividend or whatever I get from that every month, haha. And while, as I get older, I’m sure that being financially-savvy and investing my money wisely will become more of a priority for me, at this specific time in my life, there’s really only one thing that I think I need to concentrate my investments in: myself.

The past year has included a lot of awesome stuff in the life department. I landed a true dream job, I wrote a book that, at least according to the Amazon reviews thus far, isn’t terrible, I’m in a great relationship, I have an awesome family that I am obnoxiously close to, fabulous friends… life’s pretty good. So, unlike the first time I started on this health and weight loss journey, when a lot of those other things were pretty much at their lowest, I’m in a pretty amazing place. Which is why concentrating on my weight loss, concentrating on breaking those terrible habits, instituting some good ones, and generally finding that balance I so desperately crave, is finally a priority again.

I’ve always been a big talker. I talk a lot about all the things I want to be do, the experiences I want to have, and the ways I want to improve myself, but I’ve never been particularly great at follow-through. Like, I want to go hot air ballooning and I want to visit Japan outside of Narida airport and I want to finally eat at Toki Underground, but I never make plans to actually do any of those things. And so, beyond what I’m doing to improve my health and lose weight, I’m in a place where I also want to do all the other things for myself I always talked about doing. And so, for once, I am.

Which is why I finally bit the bullet, and decided to get LASIK back in October.

Untitled –> Untitled

And is also why two days ago I got lingual braces.

Untitled

You’re welcome for that extremely flattering shot of the inside of my mouth.

I actually had braces back when I was 12/13, but once I got to college stopped wearing my retainer (sorry mom and dad!) and, well, you know how it goes. And while my teeth are not in the worst condition, my top teeth have always bothered me. Some people may be quick to say that I don’t “need” braces, and while that’s technically true because it’s not like my teeth don’t work, it’s something I’ve been wanting to fix for a very long time:

EYEphone Outtake

Ignoring the rest of the bizarre photo (don’t ask), this is a good example showing the off-kilterness of my teeth. So I got lingual (behind the teeth) braces, just on top. My bottom teeth are also kind of messed up, but the orthodontist wanted me to get a tooth extracted and all sorts of craziness, plus you can’t even see them when I smile and I totally admit that this is primarily a vanity thing soooooo… yeah. And my teeth hurt crazy bad and my tongue is super pissed at me for putting metal all up in my mouth, but on the bright side, eating is extremely difficult right now so this should be awesome for my diet. #silverlining

But here’s where my original point about money comes full-circle — finally! — because obviously when you’re talking about stuff like metal brackets in your mouth and laser eye surgery, you’re not talking nickels and dimes. You’re talking thousands and thousands of dollars. But, as I said before, it’s not like I had really been spending most of my money on particularly significant things (Daxter emergencies aside, of course). And this kind of stuff? It is significant, at least to me. Because it is spending money ON me.

Getting LASIK is already the BEST money I could have possibly spent on myself. I know I owe you a thorough post about what getting LASIK was like, but for now I’ll just say that it was totally, completely, 100% worth it. If you’re feeling impatient, you can check out my Yelp review of The Eye Center for a more detailed look at the actual process, but I promise I will update you all here soon.

And there it is! As my sister pointed out when I was speaking with her, I got my LASIK in 2013, and I’m doing my braces in 2014, so let’s start taking bets now on what ridiculously expensive thing I do for myself in 2015, eh? Personally, I’m gunning for a week-long trip back to Harry Potter World (the Diagon Alley expansion opens this summer!!!) or… something else. 😉

In what ways have you invested/are you investing in yourself? It doesn’t have to be monetarily, that’s just the direction I took this post in. Could be money, could be time, could be effort… After all, the things I’m doing to improve my eating habits, exercise habits (kind of…), and overall health are big investments in myself as well!

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