My Naked Teeth! 21 months from start to finish!!

And that much anticipated day arrived. I sat in the dental chair smiling for the very last time wearing braces. My daughter came to photograph this event, and my husband thought I was at a routine appointment. I planned to surprise him with my de-braced face! It was much like opening a present. Taking off layers to get to the gift underneath all of the wrappings.  Layer 1 required removal of the chain, ties, and arch wire.  Layer 2... bring on the pliers. The crunching and snapping of the porcelain brackets, removing them one by one. As I  ran my tongue across the surface of my teeth, it felt bumpy from the chunks of glue, but for the first time I had a glimpse of my naked teeth without braces. Layer 3 bring on the sander. One tooth at a time was sanded and polished to a smooth perfection. This was the worst part. The friction from the sander with the cold air blowing caused pain on some teeth, but I have survived worse..Seriously,  followed with a polish, it was time. I made my way to the sink to rinse my mouth and look into the mirror for the first time, with a strait jaw, and teeth stacked in a perfect row.

Paraphernalia, that once held together, a sawed and broken jaw, and straitened my teeth.

And the moment that I saw the gift, unwrapped for the first time.

It was overwhelming, I really look so different than I ever imagined.  21 months later, I am transformed. I have been to hell, disfigured, sawed apart, screwed together, numb, swollen, banded shut, liquid diet, and now that is all behind me. I am stronger than I thought, and have truly come out on the other side, so grateful that I journeyed down this road! 

The only obstacle to overcome now, is the infamous retainer. I have a lovely lisp, that I hope to perfect with pracith. I with you all a merry christhmath and hope that thoon i will thspeak without a lisp. Even with this problem, I still am grateful to be on this end of it all, and can remove it to eat and have a conversation minus the lisp.
Cheers to all!! 

The eve of my summit!!

The Eve of my summit! Fitting that if falls on the winter solstice, the darkest day of the year. With clear skies, in the forecast, I reach my summit on a day when the light grows each day as we welcome a new year, and new adventures!

"Though this universe I own I possess not a thing, for I cannot know the unknown if to the known I cling."

A quote shared with me by Linda Thatcher.   She was a pivotal role model and mother figure in my teenage years.  She opened her home and her heart to a lost and wayward young girl, and bestowed upon me many life lessons that helped me to navigate my own journey, (which was not located on any map!) I honor you sweet matriarch. The pebble of love that you gave me, has caused a ripple effect touching many lives. It has changed the future in ways you could never imagine. I love you, and honor the strong foundation that you have helped to cement under many lovely feet!

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

~ Rumi ~

I opened my blog with this tried and true favorite.  Every time I read it, it has a new meaning.  My jaw surgery journey has come with many undesirable guests. I have opened my door to each pain and sorrow, discomfort and fear.  I have searched for the deeper meanings, as I have journeyed into the unknown.  Today is the eve of this journeys end. I am full of wonder-lust as I anticipate my appointment tomorrow.  There is a stirring of anxiety in my belly, as I wait for the removal of my braces. 

Today is the last day of gnarled food wrapped around brackets. The last day of mouth ulcers from pointy and poky brackets and wires. The last day that my upper lip will get caught on a bracket when I try to speak. Today is the last day!  There is really never a "last" day though. It's rather the summit of this hike.  As I reach that summit, I will breathe in all of the joy and beauty that it offers, burning into my soul the great success, that the sorrows have given. Then, I will continue. The journey never really ends. It only continues, taking us on new adventures. What will this girl with a new jaw, and strait teeth do next?  I can't wait to find out! I will speak my truth and share my stories. That is something that is my souls calling. Where will it take me? Stay tuned....

So.... I wait. The final countdown is only hours away. (big sigh...) 

Tears of joy, a story coming full circle..

(Tears of joy and overwhelming emotion...)

ON 12/12/11 I went to The ortho for my standard 2 week follow up. The power chain brought together the remaining gaps. He studied my bite, and then leaned back in his chair arms crossed, and proceeded to tell me that my little red turkey timer had popped out. "Your Done!" I was very confused and said "What ever do you mean?" In more detail, he described that the arch width was perfect, the midline, dead center. The seating of the teeth from left to right, perfect. He told me that unless I prefer to hang on to  the braces for security, "lets get these things off!" He told me that there is a final settling of the teeth that will occur once the braces are off.  He said that I could be "DE-BANDED" for Christmas!!  As I type that sentence, the pressure behind my eyes cause a flood of tears fogging up my screen. "Are you sure??" I asked. "Yes!" he then said to his assistant, lets make her molds for a retainer and schedule her for a de-banding."  I burst into tears as I lay on that chair.  This came as the most unexpected news. I had planned on  more archwire tweaking, power chain pulling, anything but a de-banding date. It occured to me in that moment, that I am at the end of my journey and the light at the end of the tunnel is within reach. All I need to do now is click my ruby slippers together and I will be home. It feel like a cosmic event, perhaps there is magic on 12/12/11!

In reflection, I feel like the infant who is now growing up and needs to "let go" of the security blanket or pacifier. I have come to rely on these braces to hold together and secure my bite. Letting go of them brings up a little bit of fear. I over hear the Orthodontist telling the younger patients that they need to start wearing their rubber bands, scolding them for not sticking to the plan. I have been the opposite. I find my self "sneaking" the rubber bands on as security. They feel like they hold my bite together. To imagine that I no longer need to carry in my purse, a baggie of "Sealion" or "Eleaphant" elastics, feels like a there is a huge space being created for something "new" to come in. One thing i know for sure, is that I won't miss the entanglement of food that hitchhikes behind the wires. No more swishing of water to free the food. No more accidental sprays of water across the table. I will get to invite "Grace" to breakfast, lunch and dinner.

I had imagined all along that I would wake up Christmas morning, free of braces, enjoying my new smile and corrected bite. I readjusted that hope 2 weeks ago when it looked like more time would be needed. So you can imagine how excited and overjoyed I am to realize that my dream will come true! I have received lavish gifts in Christmas's past but this year will mark my grandest gift of all. Surviving a double jaw surgery journey, and looking in the mirror to see the ultimate pay-off.  As I step into the new year, I will do so in complete alignment. I will enter with my physical, mental and spiritual all lined up ready to take on whatever beauty can be found. This process has taught me so many deeper lessons. I have learned how to  surrender, be patient, allow service, become dependent, stronger than I imagined, full of courage, hope, love, prayer, stunning friends and family. I can do hard things, and in the middle of the dark, can still find my light and shine it ever so brightly!!

I have come full circle. Today marks my third and final countdown. The first was counting down the days to get braces. Then counting down the days for surgery. And now, counting down the days to reach my light that has been there all along. To summit my mountain, and smile so big and bright! 9 days and counting. Will this be the longest 9 days or the shortest 9 days? I will soon find out!

One of the greatest gifts has been this blog, and the friends I have met along the way. I have found so much healing in just mind dumping all of my thoughts and feelings as I have journeyed along this very long path. I have the deepest gratitude for the technology that allows this lovely format!  And all of my dear cyber friends who have been so supportive.

Stay tuned... De-banding day countdown starts now.......

 The Last Smiles with my Braced Face. 

Happy Holidays from a real jaw breaker!!

What a busy few weeks. We spent our Thanksgiving holiday at the Hotel Del on Coronado Island this year. I have to say that it was one of my favorite holidays to date.  We were seated right next to the window with a full ocean view. I was so full of gratitude in that moment, realizing how blessed our life is.  Now, all I want for Christmas is a de-braced face... (not happening.)  My orthodontist thinks that it's close. The right side is not coming together the way it should.  This entire process of braces, jaw surgery and recovery, has taught this very impatient "quick start" (as my husband calls me) to take deep breaths when I think I can't stand it one more minute. I admit that there have been days when I feel like braces in my mouth will be a permanent condition. But just like being pregnant, the baby is always, born, and the braces always come off.  So I wait.....and  wait...... trying to avoid tangled broccoli, spinach and other foods to take up residency in the brackets and make their grand entrance with every smile. By the way, I am a "teller." If you are with me and you have food in your teeth or stuff hanging from your face, I will tell you. I "tell" because so many times, I have left a conversation, and looked in a mirror. Only to find in horror, a straggler wedged between my braces. I say just "Tell." It is  so much better that way!

I saw my Oral Surgeon yesterday. He is hilarious. He asked me to smile, and said "Beautiful teeth and smile!, who did that for you?" He is always so proud of his work.  Having a great surgeon is so critical. I feel very lucky to have found Dr. Egbert. The universe aligned on my behalf and I can see that "Zoom whitening chair" in my very near future.

As December is coming to an end, I wish all of you a beautiful holiday season. And wish a new year full of abundance, joy and healing!!

Spot of Grace

Each person is born with an unencumbered spot, free of expectation and regret, free of ambition and embarrassment, free of fear and worry; an umbilical spot of grace where we were each first touched by God. It is this spot of grace that issues peace.

~Mark Nepo~


You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have!

(Grandfather Rock Makeleah Falls Kaui)

Be strong my friends!

Me 'n' my jaw on a journey!

Nearly a month has passed, and I feel as though I have lived a lifetime. John and I celebrated our 14 year anniversary in Kauai. Our friends from the UK joined us for the following 3 weeks as we journeyed from the island to San Diego and then on to our home town where we spent a week in the mountains where fall colors are just stunning. Kauai was just what the Dr. ordered. There is a rhythm to that island that can not be resisted. It's one of the few places where time slows down, and peace calms the nerves.  Along with stunning views, we explored the island by helicopter. Tears could not be held back as we entered the center of the island, the wettest place on earth. The sheer magnitude of the falls and the stunning beauty took my breath away. And then we explored the jungle on foot as we hiked Makalea falls. This was an adventure hike with an element of danger. Rock hopping through rivers, and negotiating our way through the bamboo forest, and entanglement of trees, proved to be a favorite! I felt like jungle Jane. Covered in mud, and mozzie bites, I have never been more content with an experience!

As for my jaw... I just saw the Ortho last week. He has taken me off all rubber bands for now. He is widening my lower jaw to get the right side to seat together better. It looks and feels close now. He asked me if Im so sick of the the braces. On one hand, YES of course. They impair my speech, and are uncomfortable. Who loves having a food trap attached to their mouth? And at my age..... but on the other hand, they are somewhat of a security. They hold my teeth together, and there is a tiny fear of things shifting once the vice grip is released.  I will celebrate my de-banding day and hope it is very soon!

Helicopter tour of the island. 

Stunning views! 

 Makalea falls hike.

 Bamboo forest. So beautiful.
Danny our guide, prepared this organic raw desert for us. We picked the berries 
along the way.

The entire landscape of the forest is lined with these flowers!

awapuhi kuahiwi or ginger flower. This is the flower that made Paul Mitchell a millionare.
this flower was used by the natives as a shampoo. When you squeeze the bulb, a fragrant shampoo like gel is released. we all washed our hair in the falls!

This is the sacred water spring. Considered the most pure water source. We filled our water bottles with this crystal clear water and this was the ending point of our hike.

These mountains are in my back yard. Fall is my favorite time of year. 

Always extra exciting when there is a moose sighting.  Cheers for now. Sending health and healing to all of my jaw surgery friends!!

Big things come in small packages!!

Given the vicissitudes of life, I can happily report that my small millimeter slant is now looking very strait! Its very stunning how a such a small little rubber band in a triangle configuration can manipulate not only the teeth but the arch as well and in only 2 weeks. Perhaps that is why there is a photo of an elephant on the front of my rubber band zippie bag. It has the power and force of something much larger than its humble smallness. There is still tweaking to do but I much prefer "tweaking" to "tinkering." Tweaking sounds like there is an end in sight but tinkering sounds like a project that may never end.
As miserable and painful as this rubber band wearing is, I have to say that it provides a bit of a security blanket. I am now only to wear the triangle at night. I will give it a try and hope that everything holds! Thank you Dr. J you are a brilliant artist and architect of the teeth. It requires your sharp eye and stellar focus to put such beautiful smiles on the faces of so many. What a gift a smile is not only to its wearer, but to all who benefit from seeing it beaming in their direction!!

Thought for the day..
Observe the wonders as they occur around you. Don't claim them. Feel the artistry moving through, and be silent. (Rumi)

When times are tough....."I get by with a little help from my freinds! ~beatles~"

"Cant" needs to be replaced with "CAN" 4 months post Op

cant 1  (knt)
1. Angular deviation from a vertical or horizontal plane or surface; an inclination or slope.
2. A slanted or oblique surface.

{notice the distance in the lower canine on your right side in comparison to the distance on your left.}

So Im sporting a "cant" on my lower jaw. Its small, millimeters, but in my mind it may as well be an incline only compared to Mt. Everest. 2 weeks ago, my OD mentioned that we will have to "tinker" with my teeth. The very word "Tinker" sent my heart into my gut. My limbic brain kicked into fight or flight, and I had moments of temporary insanity. 2 days ago, I saw him again, and shared  my concern about the black diamond ski slope in my mouth. I asked him if I needed to see my surgeon and have him adjust it. His chuckle and slight shaking of his head provided temporary comfort and he said "NO." I realize that I must look like a crazed woman with OCD, but I dare any one to have a saw taken to the skull bones, screws and plates left as remnants holding it all together, and the months of nerve repair and healing, to come out on the other side and shrug their shoulders when it appears to have been placed back on crooked! Now I understand that in correcting an asymmetry exact perfection  may present a challenge, but in my case, the right side of my teeth, are still not making the kind of contact one would expect after this surgery. The whole point was to align my bite so that my teeth would touch and I could chew my food like a real human, and not be on a pureed and liquid diet at a premature age. 
Solution?... Yes there appears to be one. He installed a surgical hook on my first bottom molar, and has me wearing a tiny but thick triangle rubber band. This configuration puts me on a time machine at full throttle going back in time, ohh say four months. It clenches my teeth totally shut. My words are spoken through the bondage of a tooth prison. Suffering from a cold and stuffy nose, my breathing is compromised as I suck air through the windscreen of clamped down teeth. And as far as pain goes.. can you say OUCH!! This process is pulling the bottom teeth up from the roots. The good news is that after only 2 days, Im already noticing a difference, and he chained my upper teeth which is bringing back together the "billy bob" spaces. I am a woman who has come to expect miracles every day. I have total faith in my Ortho. He has been creating beautiful smiles for years, and I have total faith in his ability to help me achieve an end result that will make us both happy. I am determined to hold out for hope and know that very soon, I will be sporting a smile as strait as a balance beam! And just for the record, I dislike the word "Cant" even when its definition is describing a slope. I say lets call a slope a slope or a slant, and discard this word "Cant" I do not believe in "Cant" only "CAN!" There is always a way to transform the shadow into light and so going forward I will refer to my lower jaw as an angle, tilt, slope, or slant. But I have a feeling that by the next time I post, there will be no need for any of these adjectives! 

"I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. 
Some come from ahead and some come from behind. 
But I've bought a big bat. I'm all ready you see. 
Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!" ~Dr. Seuss

3 squared...3 months 3 weeks 3 days post op..

3 months 3 weeks and 3 days post op... Some days it feels like a lifetime ago, others just yesterday. My life is definitely back to normal. The healing now is just annoying, and seems slow. It's surprising to me how new strange sensations will appear from nowhere. It seems as though my teeth are waking up. If I chew anything with texture or crunch, a nerve sensation goes from my teeth to my lips and chin. Certain teeth trigger specific nerves in my face. Its annoying enough that I find myself favoring the softer foods again. Like with any discomfort, I don't want to complain to loudly, realizing that it is progressive healing and I need to be full of gratitude.  Along this process of healing, Ive noticed that the teeth on the left side seat together beautifully and the teeth on the right side not so much. I noticed last weekend, that my my bottom jaw was moving to the right (its old position) just a bit maybe a millimeter at most. Totally freaked out I made an emergency appointment with the OD to have him assess this misalignment. I know he must find me crazy, but a millimeter may as well be a mile when you have had a saw dismember your face. He said it was hardly noticeable, but Im not satisfied with that lower jaw being anything but in perfect alignment with the top. So he put me back in rubber bands to secure the bite again. In addition to the slight shift, I mentioned my concern that the right side is not seating like the left. He said that I have a slight cant and he can bring it all together, just be patient.  The word cant sends a shutter down my spine as I know that a couple of fellow jaw surgery friends are dealing with this demon and its not nice. He assured me that in my case, it's quite normal for it to be ever so slightly "off" because in trying to correct an asymmetry that existed prior, you often end with a tiny one in the end. He was confident that the braces will fix it, and all will be well in the end. I believe him, but I will say that there is an expectation for perfection when you undergo such a procedure as this one. Its such a dramatic surgery and time commitment that anything but perfection tends to wreak havoc on the mental state of mind. 

So I turn to inspiration to feel better and Audrey Hepburn was just what this girl needed...

I believe in Pink
I believe that laughing, 
is the best calorie burner.
I believe in kissing, kissing alot!
I believe in being STRONG, 
when everything seems to be going wrong.
I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls!
I believe that tomorrow is another day,
and I believe in MIRACLES!!