Less talk; same amount of dental misery

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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7 Responses to “Less talk; same amount of dental misery”

  1. Dianne King Says:

    !!!!!!!!!!

  2. Mike Atwater Says:

    I liked the insight, that you were taking unfair advantage of your sister’s love. If all of us could pay attention to that concept family time would be more fun.

  3. Robert Redus Says:

    Having something going on does give us some sense we must talk about it…dwell on it..even spend countless hours on it no doubt…who doesn’t do that…sure the pain of braces certainly won’t last a life time…maybe not even a few years…and to quote the Marque de Sade

    “It is always by way of pain one arrives at pleasure.”…

    so embrace…and conversation…are yours to exploit…deny…limit or bath in discomfort…as pleasure awaits….enjoy reading your blog….

  4. Hank Stuever Says:

    The nuns used to call this “offering it up.” Anne, there are many stops on the road to official canonization, but you are on your way. St. Anne of Orthodontia. How she suffered, but SILENTLY.

  5. Ken Bohannon Says:

    You can talk to me about your braces anytime, Anne!

  6. jane dagmi Says:

    i love reading you. your voice comes through so clearly (despite the braces and “elastics” — not to be confused with rubbers) and of course, very entertainingly. book project sounds like it’s coming just as it should. Really good stuff!! 🙂

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