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Archive for December, 2010

I mentioned last week that my new dentist referred me to a periodontist for evaluation for a tissue graft on my front lower gum.  I had what resembled almost a tear in the gum below one of my bottom front teeth.  I’m pretty sure it’s a result of a combination of age and over-zealous brushing on my behalf.  So, I toddled over to the periodontist’s office, which, by the way, was just the opposite of the dentist’s, which resembled a Hollywood set.  The periodontist’s place was like walking into a cozy, dimly lit, welcoming living room, complete with a crackling fireplace. Totally peaceful.

The bottom line was that she thought I would be a good candidate for the procedure and thus I am scheduled to have the surgery Friday at 12:30 p.m.  Before this happened, I had never heard of tissue graft surgery in one’s mouth.  Since then, I have educated myself a bit about what to expect and thought I’d share it with you, in case you ever find yourself in this position.

Gums can recede for several reasons.  One is physical trauma where one brushes too hard, too often or with a hard brush instead of a soft one.  (I’m guilty of all those at one time or another.) Another cause is tooth position and another is gum tissue that is naturally thin.  When your gum recedes, it can expose some of the tooth’s root, which makes it more prone to tooth decay and losing that tooth.  So, it pays to have it repaired.

There are different kinds of grafts, but, from what the periodontist told me, mine is a connective tissue graft.  This is where a flap is cut in the roof of the  mouth.  Then some tissue is taken from under the flap.  Then the flap is stitched back down.  (Whoopee!  Can’t wait!)

The tissue that was removed is slipped under the gum tissue that surrounds an exposed root.  Then it is stitched into place.  (Are we having fun yet)

While I was there, they took an impression to make a stent, which, according to the medical assistant, will be a thin plastic thing like a partial, that will fit in the roof of my mouth and protect the place where the tissue was taken.  I’ll have to wear it constantly for 24 hours and then can put it in and out.

Here’s a picture I found of what it looks like after the tissue graft.  These aren’t my teeth and it’s not even in the same place, but you can see how that middle tooth is much more covered in the “after” shot.

I’ve read countless reports from people who have had this procedure done.  Some make it sound like a horror movie where the pain never stops.  Others say it wasn’t bad at all.  Since I don’t really know what to expect, I thought I’d write this post BEFORE…you know, just in case.

Wish me luck!

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Lately I realized that I haven’t done any TV updates in a while and intend to remedy that right now.  Two shows, especially, compel me to comment.

First off, I remember last Fall urging all of you who weren’t already fans of Fringe to give it a try.  I really hope you did because this show just keeps getting better and better.  Last week was the finale before the winter break and I personally felt it was the best episode of the season.

A big part of the storyline this season has been about Olivia, the FBI, Fringe Division agent, stuck as a prisoner in a parallel universe while her “double” Faux-livia, has been living her life, doing her job and sleeping with her partner, Peter, here on earth.  In this last episode, she has made it back and Faux-livia has gone back to where she belongs.  As the show unfolds, Olivia begins to understand how much the other Olivia has taken from her.  When she asks Peter what the other Olivia was like, he smiled and said, “She was much quicker with a smile…less intense than you.”  Ouch.  (If Anna Torv isn’t nominated for an Emmy for her work on this episode, then there’s no justice in the world.)  When Peter made that comment, you could just watch as the joy died in her eyes.  Back at her apartment, she starts tearing her clothes out of the closet and the sheets off the bed.  As she later says to Peter, “She’s taken everything!”  Her performance was so powerful and painful that I cried…yes, like a baby!  The show returns January 21st with all new stories, in case you’re interested.

Now for the downside.  Reality show or not, I’ve always been a fan of “The Apprentice,” the show where sixteen people vie to be the apprentice of Donald Trump.  For quite awhile now he has made it The Celebrity Apprentice, with actors and athletes playing for charity.  However, with the recession, he made the decision this past season to play with real people who were out of work and end up giving a job to someone who needs it.  It took me some time to get back into the “real person” mode because I’m so used to the celebrity diva behavior.

Finally, we came down to the two finalists – Clint, a 40-year-old married father of three boys who is a lawyer, a CPA,  and a real estate developer AND Brandy, a thirty year old single lawyer.

I liked Brandy throughout the show.  She was soft-spoken and smooth and while able to get along with the women, was not above using her sex appeal with the men.

Clint was so gung-ho at every task he was assigned that he, quite frankly, exhausted me.  But throughout the entire show, I never doubted two things – that he was a hard worker and that he was a good, honest man.

Brandy’s final task was to organize a golf tournament at Trump’s Golf Club with Kathy Griffith as the celebrity guest.  Due to her complete ignorance of the game, she made at least three glaring errors.  Clint’s task was to organize a dinner and musical show after the tournament starring Liza Minnelli.  There was an almost-disaster when the program cards showed up with Minnelli’s name misspelled, but he managed to get it corrected before it became a problem.  Other than that, his portion came off flawlessly.

In the boardroom with Donald Trump, Brandy’s errors were minimized, while Clint’s use of “y’all” was criticized.  (He’s a Texas boy.)  I had felt that Clint was a shoe-in to be the Apprentice.  But as Ivanka, Don Jr. and Donald Trump chipped away at him, I suddenly got their unspoken message – “You aren’t our kind of people.”  So, who would win?  A family man who would take a bullet for Mr. Trump or the sexy, feline, breathless single woman?  It wasn’t even close.

“Clint, you’re fired!  Brandy, you’re hired!”

This was the first time since this show began that I’ve been this disappointed in Donald Trump.  He reverted to cliché.  Shame on him!

Okay, that’s it for now.  For some unknown reason, TV stops showing original episodes of all their shows about this time and damned near drowns us in “very special” Christmas shows.  I find it tedious.  Do they really think people don’t watch TV over the holidays?  For some people, it’s their only chance to catch up.  But, hey, I can’t fight the networks.

So what are YOU watching these days?

 

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Whine, But No Cheese

Getting older can be a bitch!  I’m serious.  Some days all the little aches and pains I wake up with make me feel like I’m falling to pieces.  Thank goodness none of those things are debilitating, just a huge pain in the butt.  But, I rarely whine.  Never that!  I don’t want to become one of “those people” who are always complaining.  And I can usually deal with whatever I have to deal with.  But still, some days I almost have to laugh when I take inventory. It’s so pathetic!

So, just this once, I’m going to give in and give you a list of all the various injuries/ills I faced when I woke up this morning, just to give you an idea of what one faces as the years accumulate.  Then I’m going to invite YOU to take the opportunity to see if you can “one-up” me.  I mean, fair’s fair, after all.

Okay, here we go:

1) A big bruise on my hip bone from crashing into the corner of my night stand.

2) A sore tooth.

3) Three little cuts on the tips of my fingers gotten from cleaning up broken glass.  Cuts on the ends of your fingers are so much worse than they sound and they take forever to heal.

4) Some kind of soft tissue injury on the side of my foot which makes it hurt to walk barefoot.  I got this when one of my stepping-stones tipped to the side and put my entire weight on the side of my foot.

5) Sudden jolts of pain from my “bad knee” which, up until today had been doing pretty well.

6) A stiff neck from sleeping wrong.

And, of course, who could forget…

7) Double vision, my ever-present torment which clings to me like a demon, affecting my view of the world, my balance and my focus.

So?  Impressed?  All that stuff going on in one body!  So how about you?  Can you do better than that?  I wanna hear about it!  Even if you can’t match me, feel free to take this opportunity to add your whines to mine.  What little things are driving you crazy?  Give yourself permission to share!  After all, we’re only doing this once.

Just looking over my own list, I have to smile or I’d cry.  And you know what?  I’m not certain, but I’m pretty sure this old body of mine is way past the warranty period.  Wouldn’t you just know?

 

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I’ve noticed that when I’m really busy doing physical stuff around the house (running the sweeper, dusting, moving furniture, etc.,) my mind tends to wander more than usual.  Here’s some stuff that popped up.

See this thing?  It’s a scissor sharpener I ordered on eBay.  I don’t know if it’s just me or what, but in my household scissors tend to go dull very quickly.  So, I got the bright idea of ordering a sharpener so that I wouldn’t have to keep buying new scissors.  So far, so good.  It came promptly, but had no directions with it.  But I figured, “how hard can it be?”  So I went around the house gathering up all the scissors I could find, from the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, utility drawer, etc.  I opened them up, one by one, and ran the blades through the little groove that had a picture of scissors on it (as opposed to the one that has a little knife picture.)  I tried them with a piece of paper and they cut it, so I figured it had worked.

The next time I needed to trim my bangs, I grabbed the scissors at my dressing table and carefully started snipping.  They sounded right – as if they were working.  But ten minutes later, I could still feel my bangs in my eyes.  So, I snipped again and noticed that very little hair was falling.  So I tried it with another pair of scissors.  And another.  And another.  It appears that I somehow de-sharpened most of the scissors in my house!  I still don’t know what happened, but suddenly I feel completely scissor-less !  Lesson learned:  If you don’t get instructions with something, maybe you shouldn’t just “make some up.”

I pulled out the list of people I sent Christmas cards to last year and decided to do a little pruning.  Last year you’d think I was one of Santa’s elves, the way I sent out cards.  Even people who didn’t usually send me cards would get one if I knew they were alone or if I thought they might not get a lot of cards.  But this year, as I’ve pointed out, what with my eye problems, I haven’t exactly been going overboard with the jolliness.  So I took several names off the list.  And I imagine that these people won’t even notice.  That felt so good that every few days or so I would go over the list again and cut a few more names.  By the time I sat down to address the envelopes, my list was much more manageable.  When I get around to mailing them later in the month, they’ll be going to people I have good reasons to send wishes to, which is as it should be.  Lesson learned:  Friendships ebb and flow and it’s okay to let some go.

I mentioned on Monday that I have four doctor/dentist appointments this week.  This has revealed an interesting phenomenon – the robo-call.  I can be right in the middle of something and the phone will ring.  I’ll pick it up and hear an artificially cheerful voice say, “Hello!  This is to inform you that…STAR, has an appointment with DR.X.  on DAY OF THE WEEK, December DATE at TIME.  Please hold on for your options to confirm this appointment.  Press 1 to confirm this appointment.  Press 2 to cancel this appointment.”  It’s kind of eerie to be communicating with this disembodied voice.  And yet, all but one of my doctors have this way of confirming appointments.  One even sent an email in addition to the robo-call.  Only my periodontist had a real live, breathing, friendly human being call to confirm.  It was nice.  Lesson learned:  The human touch still makes a difference.

And finally, I’m on my third and final month of taking Prednisone, the steroid my endocrinologist thought would cure my double vision.  Even though it did nothing to help me, I couldn’t just stop taking it, due to the nature of the drug.  You have to be weaned off.  The first month I took 20 mg., the second, 10 mg. and the third 5 mg.  Now I’m taking them just every other day until the 23rd when they’ll be gone.  At first when I was prescribed this drug, I read about it and got very scared about the side effects – moon face, weight gain, mood swings, buffalo hump (the scariest.)  But, nothing initially happened.  In fact, I lost weight.  However in this third month, I think one side of my face looks a bit puffier than the other, which makes me feel very self-conscious.  It’s notorious for making one retain salt, so I’ve tried very hard to stay away from salty foods as much as I can.  When I do eat something salty, I notice the next day that my eyes look puffier.  And as for mood swings!  The other night I was going to watch a little cartoon penguin movie.  But right at the beginning, I felt so sorry for the little penguin who wanted to dance rather than sing that I got teary eyed!  I changed the channel because I didn’t think I could take it!  So yes, the mood swings are definitely in evidence.  For me the drug is terrible, and I’m counting the days until I don’t have to take it ever again.  I really don’t need this on top of the double vision.  It’s already making me plenty miserable without any help.  I know that this drug can be valuable in some cases, but not mine.  Lesson learned:  Some drugs ADD to your problems rather than alleviate them.

Okay, now that I’ve unloaded those thoughts, I have some more room in my head to add some more, which is always a good thing.  And if you learned anything here that you can use, so much the better.

Until next time,

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It was just one of those gloomy, frigid December days until I went out to the mailbox and discovered a little 6″ by 8″ box waiting for me.  I had quite recently placed a custom order for something for my house, but this couldn’t be it this soon, could it?  Turns out, it could!

It was the kind of project I knew I’d need plenty of time for, so I had to wait a couple of days, but Saturday was THE DAY.  I went into the kitchen and looked up at the clock, specifically the area to the right of the clock.  It’s a bit dull, wouldn’t you say?

I began installation at once.  This was part of the positioning, which is vital with something like this. What made this project more challenging than the previous ones was that I had to keep climbing a six-foot ladder to get things right.  The piece, itself, is six feet long, too, and there’s only one of me.

Here are what my lovely birds look like up close…

Then, moving back a bit…

And, finally, ta-dah!  Voila!  The finished product!  So, what do you think?  I think it’s pretty cool and fun.

Just think!  I’ll never have to be alone in the kitchen again!  I wish you could see it in person because the whole effect is pretty charming.  I know, I know, I said I was going to slow down on the decals, what with my addiction and all.  But this really is the last one…

…for now.  🙂

 

 

P.S.  The lovely decal was created by Single Stone Studios at Etsy.com.

 

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The New Dentist

Since I don’t already have enough stress in my life, I decided to add something else – a new dentist.  Why not, huh?

I’ve had three things going on in my mouth for quite some time, but since none have caused pain so far, I had established a nice friendly, “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy with my teeth and gums.  First, I had that gigantic molar that my old dentist was so eager to pull, that I wrote a letter to it in “To My Depressed Tooth.”It is still viable a year and a half later, but I thought it should be checked.  Then I have a big open place on my front bottom gum that looks scary.  And finally, I have a bottom partial containing three molars that was so worn out that the clasps wouldn’t keep it in my mouth.  So I thought the time had come to…reluctantly…take action.

So, I went dentist shopping from my preferred providers list and finally settled on a practice containing two sisters that’s close to my house. When I called last Tuesday, I expected them to give me an appointment sometime toward the end of the month or the first of January.  Instead they set me up for that Thursday!  Yikes.  I don’t think I was ready for that.  Here’s how it went.

WRITTEN THE NIGHT BEFORE THE APPOINTMENT: I drove by today to find the office.  It turned out to be in the corner of a building and had floor-to-ceiling glass walls on two sides.  As I turned my car around, I could actually see a dentist and patient on one side.  I don’t know if I’d like being tortured there for the whole world to see.  I’m already beginning to dread this a bit – new office, new dentist.  I’m not sure what to expect.  Since the double vision, I’ve been avoiding being around strangers a lot, so this will be a challenge.

WRITTEN RIGHT AFTER MY APPOINTMENT: I’m feeling a bit shook up.  My appointment was at 9:00 and it didn’t end until 11:30!  First of all their “new patient” forms were endless and asked everything except my brand of deodorant.  Then I waited and waited and waited, trying to read my Kindle, but actually feeling pretty nervous and  like everyone was looking at me.  The brightness of the waiting room with all that glass really hurt my eyes and I feared I looked googly-eyed.  I felt conspicuous.  I finally got called in by an assistant and had a panoramic x-ray and had to give a detailed history, then more waiting.

Finally, the dentist, Dr. Kendra, came in.  She was very nice and actually listened to my reasons for being there and then did an exam.  One by one she addressed my concerns.  Big Mama tooth would probably eventually go, but she suggested we hold on until it does.  The partial could be repaired.  But the “hole” in the gum – not good.  She suggested I see a periodontist as soon as possible for a possible tissue graft.  Help!  She also found a cavity which she wants to fill next week.  So far, so good.

I hadn’t wanted to see a hygienist until after the dentist examined my teeth, due to the sensitive stuff like the gum and the Big Mama tooth.  But, when I was finished with the dentist, the assistant came in and told me there had been a cancellation and I could get my teeth cleaned right then! I could have put it off, but knew it was a necessary evil.  And evil it was.  The hygienist was nice enough, if a bit uber-cheerful.  The part I didn’t like was at the end.  Right when I was leaving, she seemed to get a bright idea and said, “hold on a minute, I want to ask the dentist something.”  Then she came back with this huge bottle of anti-bacterial mouthwash that she wants me to swish around for a minute every day and then not rinse my mouth.  It’s to help my gums.  As she handed it to me she said, “Oh, and it might stain your teeth.”

I stopped in my tracks.  “Stain my teeth?  Then I don’t want this stuff!”

“Oh, don’t worry,” she said, with her big toothy smile, “we can clean your teeth here.”

Anyway, we argued about it for a while, but, by then I was starting to feel as if I might have an anxiety attack.  It was too bright in there and everything was almost MORE than double vision and I just wanted to get the hell out.  Too many people, too many names, too much info to absorb.  So I escaped and came home and had a good cry.  (The steroids?  The hygienist?  The whole experience?  All of the above, I think.)

Anyway, I made an appointment with the periodontist, which gives me four dentist and doctor’s appointments next week, a fact that makes me feel a bit overwhelmed.

First, the oculoplastic surgeon wants to cut around on my eye muscles sometime in the future, now the dental tribe wants to stain my teeth and graft skin from the roof of my mouth to my gum!  I’m beginning to feel like an old battered Raggedy Ann doll that’s being passed around.

But I’m not going down without a fight!  I’ll use that mouthwash stuff a couple of nights, but if it starts to stain my teeth, I’ll stop using it!  And that sappy, happy hygienist can’t make me because she’s not the boss of me!  So there!

Anyway, that’s the story of the new dentist experience.  I may feel better about it later but right now I’m just tired and not all that happy.  Can you blame me?

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On Cloud Patrol #20

Despite how cold it’s getting, your faithful Cloud Patrol has been out scanning the skies, ready to capture any promising formations and I’ve managed to come up with several.

This first, however, is compliments of my friend, Dee, who took this at Grand Lake in Colorado.  What caught her attention was the fact that it appears to be a square cloud, something you don’t see very often.  In keeping with my tradition of identifying shapes, let me suggest that this one is either a piece of toast or actually could be a square face because I do see something in the middle that suggests a nose.  What do you think?

This next one is a baby dragon.  He’s reclining but you can see the suggestion of his wings on the left.  That’s his big eye in the middle of the picture, then his snout.  He looks very comfortable.

The next is a dead witch.  Although you don’t see it specifically, I think she’s lying in a coffin.  Anyway, you can see her long pointy nose sticking up and her folded hands.  And if you want extra credit, see if you can see a halo in the mid-left part of the picture.  Maybe at the last moment, she repented of all her evil and is going to be made an angel!  I love happy endings.

And finally, this last one’s so obvious that I’d be surprised if you didn’t see it right away.  It’s a unicorn!   Look for a horn in the middle of the picture and just work your way down.

So, how did you do?  Did you see them all?  You know, it isn’t easy standing out there in the frigid weather, freezing my patootie off to capture these clouds!  But I figure you guys are worth it!

Till next time, keep your eyes on the skies!

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