Category Archives: Brace yourself Sheila

In which my teeth are finally straight, and there are some fluffy chicks and cider


How was your weekend?  Mine was pretty nice.  For a start off, having my teeth uncaged on Friday meant that I could finally indulge my desires for fizzy drinks and random snacking.  So far I’ve had cranberry juice, coke, hazelnut syrup latte and a caramel Wispa.  No apples as yet; I’m a little scared to bite down on things, as I have this irrational fear that my front teeth will fall out and I’ll be back to square one, but give me a week or two and I’ll get over it.  I am still conscious of the effects on teeth of too much sugar – even without the brace – so I will be trying to keep up the good work and not indulging too much.  But it’s great to know that if I do fancy an afternoon flapjack, I can do so without any guilt, and it won’t result in unsightly brown staining on my teeth.  My sugar-sacrifice for the last six months has paid off though, as there’s not a hint of decalcification to be seen; in fact, my teeth are so white and straight, it’s like looking in the mirror and seeing Donny Osmond.  Or Simon Cowell.  Actually, no, they’re better than that as they look really natural, not too perfect.  But I am no longer a contender for the Big Book of British Smiles for which I offer up a nightly prayer of gratitude to the NHS and Cosham’s QA hospital.

The actual removal was better than expected; I had geared myself up for 45 minutes of poking and prodding in the dentist’s chair to get them off, but was pleasantly surprised when they were all off and done in 10.  What then did take longer was having my teeth “sandblasted” with some kind of greenish-grey crap (which consequently dribbled all down my chin and made me look like I’d been trying to eat liquorice and missing my mouth) in order to glue a bonded retainer behind the back of my front teeth to stop them moving again.

I also have a set of lovely night braces to wear, pretty much for the rest of my life.  They’ve moved on since the last time I had them, though, and are more like a gumshield than something that covers the entire roof of the mouth.  I can actually speak when wearing them, which is a step forward, and you can hardly see them as they’re so clear.  I have to wear them every night for a year, and then can go down to once every other night.  The irony is that on Friday I was so pleased not to have a fixed brace on  – transfixed by the novelty of running my tongue along my teeth and not snagging it to shreds – that I completely forgot to put on the night brace.  Whoops!  (I’d better not mention this to my orthodontist.)  Luckily, it still fitted the next night and I will make sure I don’t forget in future, as I have no desire to go through all this tooth business again – twice in ten years is enough, thanks.

In order to celebrate my new smile, S decided to take me out for dinner on Saturday night.  He has been embroiled for the last 12 weeks in a complicated purchase of a new titanium frame mountain bike (I believe this is good because it’s lighter, but I tend to zone out when listening to bike tech specs), which has developed into a highly contentious issue between him and the owner of the company.  The originally delivery time was 3-4 weeks, but three months on, the frame is still in China and waiting to be shipped – and there’s not even the excuse of an ash cloud to justify the delay.  In the end, frustrated with the wait and the fact he couldn’t ride or train for a race he has at the end of May, he agreed last week to take one of the steel frames which had arrived, rather than waiting an even more indefinite period for the titanium.  This steel frame also has the added bonus of being a lot cheaper, so he decided to splash some of the spare cash on a meal for me and my new teeth.  We ended up going to local Caribbean restaurant Plantations where we hit their buffet in style – jerk chicken, curried goat, callaloo, aubergine with scallions, rice & peas, Creole salad, fried plantains, dumpling and coleslaw.  God, it was good.  And god, I was full afterwards.  That’s the trouble with buffets, it’s difficult to know when to stop.  We had to roll ourselves delicately home and slump on the couch, watching Leon (another one on the list of S’ must-see films for me) whilst waiting for our stomachs to deflate.

Sunday saw S taking out the bike for the first time and so I was relegated to my usual bike widow status.  Despite the rubbish weather (it’s May!  Where is the sun?) I decided to go along with friends and support our local city farm’s fundraiser event.  As well as helping the farm’s financial future, it  also provided me with an injection of cute in the form of watching baby chickens and fluffy yellow goslings all cheeping and running over each other.  Our entry fee included food, and I have discovered that I appreciate nature a lot more when I have a half of Thatcher’s Gold in my hand and a delicious sweetcorn and chickpea frittata with wild garlic pesto and plum sauce, courtesy of Café Maitreya (which is next on the must-go-to restaurant list).

I also spent time poking around the garden, something I’m getting more and more into.  A few weeks ago I did a big planting – rocket, lettuce, chives, sweetcorn, courgettes, squash, mint, strawberries and sunflowers – and so I like to potter out there, checking the seedlings’ progress and ensuring that they’ve got the right amount of water and light.  My approach to gardening is a tad experimental but, touch wood, nothing untoward has happened so far and I’m confident this year of beating last year’s crop of four courgettes and six strawberries.  Here’s hoping, anyway.


In which there are 41 hours left


I’m on the homeward stretch with my brace.  In less than 2 days, it’s going to be off and I will have a straight smile for the first time in 8 years.

It was a surprise when my orthodontist told me last week that I was finished with the fixed brace, as I’d been expecting to have it on until at least August, and there was always the slight nag at the back of my mind that he might have to perform a temporary take off for the wedding.  (Wedding cake and braces might have proven to be a lethal combination, all that dried fruit and icing getting stuck – imagine the photos!) I thought my teeth looked to be in the correct position, but orthodontists = perfectionists, so I was envisaging another few months in order for them to move another millimetre or two to make them just so.  But nope, he’s pleased with the results (and, cynically, is probably keen to get me off the books and make room for someone else), so Friday is it – they come off and I can once more smile without worrying that a piece of my lunch is on show to the world.

These last six months have not been easy, but they’ve gone mercifully quickly, and I’m really pleased that I’ve done it.  Props to S for his amazing support; making me soft dinners, putting up with finding little rubber bands all over the house, taking pictures of my teeth’s progress to keep me positive and telling me I still look beautiful to him, despite half a pound of metal in my mouth.

Bring on Coca Cola, corn on the cob and snacking between meals!

In which there is rejoicing that it is the weekend


I have had a pretty awful few days, in terms of work.  A project I am responsible for has spent the past few weeks falling apart at the seams, and just when I thought I had it sewn back up – a few messy stitches here and there, but otherwise OK – someone else came along with a big pair of scissors to destroy it again.

(Gosh, that is a long sewing metaphor.  I think I have sewing on the brain after spending Sunday night crafting a cover for my new iPod touch.)

(Which, by the way, is awesome and is probably worth its own post.)

But, it is now Friday, which means it is the weekend, which means several things:

a)     I am getting a haircut tonight, which is much needed.

b)     Our plan for tonight consists of dinner, a bottle of red, and Rabbids 2.  This is the perfect antidote to my hellish week.

c)      We are driving to Portsmouth tomorrow, to see my parents and then surprise my Nan on Sunday.  She turned 90 on Wednesday, and so the whole family – S and I, my brother and his girlfriend and my parents – is going round for afternoon tea, bearing cakes, flowers and cards.  I found a recipe for red velvet cupcakes – beloved of Dolly Parton and other Southern belles in Steel Magnolias – and so I’m going to give them a go. A few sprinkles on top and we should have ourselves a party (albeit one at a pace suitable for a ninety year old).

d)     I have an orthodontist appointment on Monday, which means I definitely get a day off work and maybe get told that I can stop wearing rubber bands.  This would be excellent – I am sick of them pinging off when I eat anything chewy and I’m also sick of accidentally swallowing them – rubber + intestines cannot be a good mix.

Cake, wine, family and nicely groomed hair – just what the doctor ordered.

In which I get both elastics and some good news


The UK’s arctic conditions have continued and today is my second snow day in less than a year – fantastic!  I was all set to go to work – it’s not a problem for me to walk in – but the building is closed and so I can’t get into the office.  I’ve done what I can, work wise, but as the rest of the world is similarly lounging at home, there’s not a lot for me to be getting on with.

An easy day is actually quite welcome, as my mouth is killing me at the moment due to my 8 week orthodontist check up yesterday.  My wire got changed, which I was expecting, and elastic bands got added, which I wasn’t.  If a brace wasn’t undignified enough at 27, I now have rubber stretching from top to bottom, in an effort to bring my bottom jaw forward and my top jaw back.  How a piece of elastic can do this I don’t know, but the entire mechnical process of braces continues to astonish me, so I’ll put my trust in the consultant.

Despite this, yesterday’s appointment was ace for several reasons:

1. The massive build up of snow that hit Portsmouth meant that hardly anyone made it into the clinic – I was only the second patient they’d seen that morning – and so there was no waiting around.  I am so grateful to my dad for driving in very treacherous conditions and helping me to get there.

2. The barrier for the car park had clearly decided to take a snow day too and all parking was free.

3. The elastic bands come in a packet that looks like this:

4. And best of all, the orthodontist I saw – a different one to last time, the head of the clinic, in fact – told me that we can go ahead with an October wedding!  He thinks they will be completely finished with me by then, but that if not, he’ll take the braces off for the wedding and put them back on.  I’m not ashamed to say, I nearly cried with happiness.  I told the consultant he’d made my year, which seemed to make him happy, albeit a little gruffly, too.

So it’s full steam ahead with planning and lots of fun stuff to organise.  We have the venue and a date, so can move onto things such as dresses and shoes and decorations.  And menus – I am banking on at least one food tasting; how else can you decide between the chocolate mousse or the apple crumble or the creme brulee?  It’s a tough undertaking, I appreciate that, but one I am fully prepared to be involved in.

In which I look back on 2009


Only two days of 2009 are left and I’m in my usual mood for this time of the year, which is a mix of optimism and expectation for what’s coming up (a trip to Thailand and Hong Kong, a wedding to plan, many other fun things), and slight depression as New Year’s Eve looms.  I’ve never been good about celebrating NY, as I find that the expectation always gets to me a little, that you! must! be! out! having! fun!  It’s just one more night, but there seems to be extensive pressure to go out and have the best time ever, and that always ensures that whatever you do is not enough.  Plus it being the last day of the year puts me in a sense of mourning for what’s past – god, I know, I should be in my room writing extremely bad poetry whilst I listen to some Alanis Morrissette – and I find it hard to get out of a blue funk.  Pathetic, yes; every year I try and beat it, but I’ve not succeeded yet.

So before the melancholy sinks upon me, I thought I’d look back at 2009.  It’s been a pretty good year, by all accounts, and so it deserves to be appreciated before I usher in 2010, slumped gloomily over my cava in the corner of a bar.

2009 was the year it snowed a lot.  Well, a lot for us.  Firstly in February, then also last week.  This brought the usual traffic chaos and complete erasing of common sense on the part of most British people.  So 2009 will be known The Year Of Snow, AKA The Year The Country Ground To a Halt Because of 2cm Of White Powder, And People In Other Countries Laughed At Us, Especially Canadians.

(I have a lot of Canadian friends, and I distinctly heard them chuckling from across the Atlantic at our snowy incapacities – very embarrassing.)

This was the year I lost my job, which wasn’t nice, but then got another one pretty quickly, which was.  The jury’s still out about what I intend to do long term career wise, but for the moment I’m pretty content.   My proofreading work also got a little busier, which is good, and my brother designed me a kick-ass website to promote it.

S and I had one of our best holidays ever, gallivanting around Europe for three weeks, fuelled on German pastries and Czech beer and Italian ice cream.

After a nine year gap, 2009 also saw Return of the Braces: The Train Tracks Take Revenge.  It’s a decision I am very happy with, though, especially as recent photos show my front teeth have moved about 3mm and are nearly in line with the rest of the arch.  That definitely makes all the cleaning, the lack of sugar, an inability to whistle properly and the discomfort worthwhile.

I conquered my nemesis and finally, finally did a forward roll on the trapeze.  I also managed a whole load of moves I’d never been able to do before, such as Amazon and round the world and doubles moves.  I got up on silks, too (with a hefty push), and had a go on Spanish web.

And the crowning glory of 2009 was, of course, getting engaged.  We may not have a date yet, we may be in disagreement over what song we will do our first dance to, but saying yes to that question was one of the best things I have ever done.

So in the words of Bridget Jones: an excellent year’s progress.