Archive for February, 2011

Less talk; same amount of dental misery

February 17, 2011

So.

I had this moment of revelation during my Christmas vacation in Texas. I was riding in the car with my sister, expounding on some minute detail of the misery I was enduring due to my braces, grateful beyond words for the chance to truly just whine to my hearts’ content, secure in the knowledge that my own flesh and blood would never get sick of my laments, would not stop loving me or even roll their eyes, because, you know — FAMILY.

But at length I glanced over and something in my extremely tactful sister’s face suddenly broke through my self-absorption. It wasn’t that she showed any disapproval or weariness or even lack of sympathy. But I somehow knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was taking unfair advantage of her love. Its effect on me was immediate: “Enough,” I told myself.

I am not a New Year’s resolution maker. But that very day, I vowed privately to talk less about my braces in 2011 than I did in 2010.

It has been remarkably easy to do. My secret has been to not bring it up myself; to wait for others to ask.

Guess what? Almost no one asks. Beloved friends and family apparently are able to live their lives and sleep soundly at night without daily updates of my dental travails.

Shocking as you may find this, it has its upside, which is that I am More Pleasant To Be Around. I mention this so that if you live nearby, and have been avoiding me during this unsavory episode of my life, you may now be assured the coast is clear. Feel free to call me for lunch, get togethers, etc. The danger is past.

I am able to proclaim this new and improved attitude with confidence because even time in my orthodontist’s chair today has not dampened my spirits. When I can bounce back this quickly, I know I’ve turned a corner. This morning, my former heavy-duty wires gave way to a new set of heavy duties, and I was shown how to use rubber bands for the first time. Yes. Apparently the metal bands have shifted my teeth enough that now it is time to begin moving my jaw. Which the rubber bands can purportedly do. (Don’t ask me how this happens; frankly, it seems impossible.)

So far there’s not much pain, though I was warned that headaches for a few days are common while the jaw adjusts to the new pressure. I don’t get regular headaches, I get migraines, so this isn’t good news. But I remain obstinately cheery. Perhaps because overall, my migraines are still VASTLY lower in number during the last 3 months than at any other time in the past 15 years. And I believe that part of my relief (not all) is due to the easing of pressure on my lower jaw, which the braces have facilitated.

That improvement is one big reason why it’s easier this year to refrain from mentioning my dental misery. Because truthfully, after more than 6 months in braces, I’m still aghast at how pervasive the discomfort in my mouth is, how chronic my problems with talking and eating. But when asked how I’m adjusting, “I hate them,” is enough. I leave it at that and don’t embellish.

(Nevertheless, grateful shout-out to Mom for pressing for details last week, even after I explained to her that I was trying to avoid the subject. “But I’m asking,” she said. Sweeeet! Ten minutes of guilt-free peevishness immediately followed.)

In other news, book progress has been slow this week, though I had a marvelous interview with a teen on Saturday. She was articulate, mature and loving; I was enchanted. The encounter reminded me that I’m beyond fortunate to be working on a book that engages my passion and imagination so completely.

Next time: More on the book, less on the braces. (Broke my own rule, didn’t I? Because you didn’t ask.)

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90s – done!

February 10, 2011

My book plan for 2011, which I shared here recently, is to write one chapter a month, each one highlighting a decade in the life of women and exploring what influences they most commonly cite as affecting their sexual desire during that period.

Uh oh. Long sentence. I promise not to write such long sentences in the book.

Anyway … I’m happy to say I’m on track.

Well, sort of. Kind of.

I know, I know. You’re thinking I’m lame … but it’s the teenagers’ fault, I swear!

Allow me to explain. After two fascinating teen interviews last month, none of the other young ladies would return calls or texts so that I could schedule face-to-face meetings or even phoners. So I revisited the surveys and pulled out additional candidates, solicited my doctor partner for their phone numbers and then diligently tried contacting the new ones. Also to no avail.

With the month ticking away, and my self-imposed deadline approaching, I made a command decision to switch over to my 90-year-old respondents and see if that went faster.

Voila! You will perhaps not be surprised to learn that women of this advanced age group — if not actually awaiting your phone call — are at least willing to have cordial conversations, and in a couple of cases, were bold enough to allow me to come meet them for in-person chats about their lifetime of desire. (Uh oh. Is that another overly long sentence? I feel sure it is.)

In fairly short order I was able to get an excellent sampling of our most senior ladies. I found that talking to the oldest and youngest survey respondents so close together was as enlightening as I’d hoped. I spoke with six 90something women (of 11 who took our survey) who described a sexual climate that seems light years removed from the one the teens I spoke with inhabit. Most of the senior ladies never received a sex talk from their parents, accepted a marriage proposal from a man they were not intimate with and were virgins on their wedding night.

Their talks with me for the book usually constituted the most detailed sexual conversation they’d had in their life. I was respectful of this and very careful in my language with the ladies, who were paying me the compliment of being vulnerable and candid about a subject their lives didn’t prepare them to share easily. I came away with great admiration for them, along with heartfelt gratitude.

I spent four days last week writing furiously, and as a result had the chapter 90 percent finished by Sunday’s work session with Dr. Mo. I had several NEED DOCTOR’S COMMENTS HERE notations, which we talked through as I took notes. The very next day I incorporated all her comments into the text, which means the chapter is virtually complete. I intentionally left it a bit vague at the very end, so that more definite conclusions can be drawn as the book unfolds.

And now I’m back to the teens. On Sunday, we pulled out yet another batch of young candidates and Dr. Mo dug up their phone numbers (which are not attached to the survey to protect patients’ anonymity). I’ve already done a phoner with one gal from Gainesville and have a face-to-face with another scheduled Saturday morning. They have busy lives, I get it. And I need them worse than they need me, so I must wrestle their slippery schedules and vow to be victorious!

How does this all make me feel? In a word — energized. And I’m happy at how well I seem to be responding to my own deadline. Who knew I’d listen to me?

Of course, this is only Month 2. Sometimes I look way ahead, to all the chapters undone, and all the pieces that have to be pulled together somehow. When I do that, when I take the long view, I feel scared and overwhelmed. So I just pull back, and think about the one chapter, the one next call, the one next interview.

And that — I can do.

(Please note: I did not end with a long sentence!)