Braces Again

I opened up the package of pork loin for dinner, and it smelled awful. Luke had Sam take it out to the corner of our property to hopefully draw a coyote near enough for Luke to shoot. I said, “I’m not too disappointed, really; I’m not allowed to have pork, with these things” (pointing to my mouth). Luke chuckled.

Yesterday I finally was able to go back to the jaw specialist to be fitted with appliances. I was told it would take at least two hours, so I asked my mom if I could bring the kids there while I was at the doctor. Having only a morning or afternoon choice and not wanting to hit Columbus evening traffic on the way home, I chose the morning appointment. This meant that I had to get us all up and out the door by 7:30 am! We were able to pull out of the driveway at 7:39, not bad for us. The trip to Columbus was blissfully uneventful, and I was able to use cruise control the whole way. We made it to my mom’s at 8:45; this and the smooth trip down I think were due to us praying before we left! I headed back out by myself up the same highways to the doctor, still enjoying no slowdowns at all. At one point I caught myself totally zoning out, which scared me a little. I mean, I do know the northwestern outerbelt like the back of my hand, but driving in city traffic is not the norm for me any more so I am always battling the newer, skittish fish-out-of-water feeling with the you’ve-done-this-a-million-times feeling. I don’t want to be too cocky or too careful when I drive.

On the drive, I went over in my head what I’d heard and understood this visit would entail. It had been two months since I had been for that initial visit, and from calls back and forth between the jaw specialist and my insurance company I had come to understand what the appliances would cost. As I drove, the thought occurred to me- these things are expensive! Maybe this will really be like getting braces again, and this visit is to have them installed! I also recalled them telling me I would have trouble talking with them in; tomorrow night would be TeamKID, and I had a 15 minute missions lesson prepared where I would have to talk, a lot! I’m not sure how well this plan was thought out! But, I concluded, I need this care, and it may as well happen now, since everything with insurance seems to have worked out.

I got to the doctor and the nurse began to work on fitting me with these pieces, one on top, one on bottom, that looked like the retainers I wore in high school after having braces. Only these were rough and rocky, for lack of a better term- thick and bulky. But the good news was they were not permanent fixtures. I would wear the bottom one during the day, and the top one at night. The goal of these appliances would be to move my jaw forward, creating space in the joint for healing and the muscles to strengthen.  This would happen if I was faithful to wear them all the time. No problem, I think, as long as I have the option of taking them out. Phew! The nurse also spoke about how this is a good next step for me, hopefully one that avoids surgery, which is invasive, expensive, and doesn’t have the best outcome all the time. This, she said, had a better success rate. We’ll see. This problem with my jaw is unique in that the slipped disk will never be the same after the injury to it; the hope is that I can return to as normal a functioning jaw as possible.

So, we are about one day into my new adventure in “braces”, and while the piece is not painful, its tightness against my teeth make me every few minutes fight the urge to pull out the appliance and pitch it in the trash. No, I will never do that willingly or knowingly, as expensive and important this piece is, but I do look forward to meal times when I can take it out. They told me I could eat with it in, but when I pretended to chew on it, it started bouncing all over the place and I worried I might break it or break a tooth if I tried that with food in my mouth! And as to how these pieces work, I can’t really be sure. The top one has a lip that comes down and keeps my bottom teeth forward while I sleep, but the bottom one looks like an unassuming retainer. The best guess I can come up with is that my tongue muscle is forcing the piece, and my teeth, forward. I already feel something going on, like when I go to put on lip balm or when I chew food. I have to go with soft foods for a while, which may get tricky at times, like tonight when we were supposed to have pork roast. Saved by the bad meat! Dinner will be Jep’s baked beans and Lisa’s mexican cornbread from Miss Kay’s Duck Commander Cookbook. Yum!