Monday, December 31, 2012

adjusting to the new season

I have the best househelper ever!

I’m so proud of myself! I actually ate a high caloric breakfast this morning! Even though the portions were really small – including a small piece of barramundi from a pizza last night (before I gave up on eating the rest altogether), a little bit more soggy cheerios, a portion of wasabi sweet potato mash, little bits of mushy beef rending – I am actually feeling full and satisfied! :D Thank God for a great househelper who knew to pack for me a teaspoon that really helped too! :)

This afternoon, I’m planning to have some of my cheese cubes and yogurt to keep my calcium intake high. And I think I’ll try to eat a couple of pieces of popcorn without chewing on them (because popcorn is apparently one of the top nasty things to eat when having braces). But the popcorn is necessary….to…. keep my morale high. ^^

Can't believe I'm putting wax in my mouth.
The wires and hooks from the braces have been bugging me a little though and I now have two little ulcers in my mouth caused by the hooks in my metal braces on my lower jaw. I didn't quite think that I'd want to use the dental wax that my ortho provided, but having a little hook dig in all day everytime I move my mouth or talk, I've decided to give it a go. Turns out, they help a little...but I think I should have really put them on before the little craters in my cheek were made.

I prolly have to go out and do a bit of shopping today– including getting myself a stick of lip gloss/balm. With my normal bite without the braces, my lips already don’t quite meet. But now with braces, it takes extra effort to keep them closed and I’ve been having chapped lips – which is severely uncomfortable as I know there are little bits of..lip epidermal skin(?) sticking out, and it’s painful to even stick my tongue out to keep them moist. I probably should drop by a pharmacy too to get some fish oil tablets, and maybe at the supermarket for some salmon to consume on a daily basis. The last thing I’d want is for the messies in my diet to mess up the health of my skin, nails and hair. I’ve been trying Blackmore’s Skin Hair and Nails supplement, but it hasn’t seemed to have done much for me. 

In a couple of weeks, I believe I might have to go out and get some new clothes too. Thing is, I haven’t been eating very well these past two months due to the stress of work and some personal issues. That situation, along with my fast, and now with the food limitations from my braces, some of my strapless items of clothing don’t quite stay on anymore. The upside is that I can now again fit into some clothing that I used to be able to wear, and I’m moving toward my “happy weight” (which is still about 5 kilos away). The downside is probably the fear that I’m losing weight too fast and it might affect my overall health somehow.

Moreover, from this week, I plan to start training for this:

Yes, I've already signed up and will be running the full marathon! :)
2013 is going to be a big year of big, courageous decisions and change.
And it starts today.

On other notes:
I've been practicing using a straw, and it apparently helps when I stick the straw all the way in to the back of my mouth. I think it helps position my lips to close further down the straw...not to mention it ensures all liquid goes straight into my throat without dirtying the braces on my molars. :) I shall pay Starbucks a visit one of these days to celebrate my "new found" skill. :D

preventing starvation

Sawft foods! Joy!
After a day of pretty much starving for lack of food choices as well as having to bear with the torture of really sensitive teeth that disallowed chewing of any sort, I finally got out and got myself some supplies! I now have a stash of soft foods that I'm going to survive on through this period! As you can see, I've heeded the suggestions that I've found from some of my readings on "braces friendly foods" and now have cereal (to be soaked in milk), miso soup, mashed potatoes, porridge, small cubes of cheese and yogurt (for calcium!) and blueberries!

I tried having the multigrain Cheerios today for breakfast and they took a bit longer than I expected for them to soften, so I had to leave them in the refrigerator to soak in the milk for a while before they were of an appropriate softness for me to swallow. Other than that, I was so happy that I finally had a stash of edibles so I wouldn't be starving! The laughing cow cheese cubes were really such a happy find! The onion ones are the best!

Having a houseparty tonight was also quite the challenge! Especially that I've recently decided to fast my dinners for some personal reasons, and now with the lack of choice of foods that I can eat, it's really tough trying to meet my daily caloric intake needs! Just seeing the turkey, roasted chicken, beef rendang, SALAD!, pizza, chips, tiramisu.... it was almost impossible to not feel sad! And again I had to skip popcorn as we had a movie night! :( But I guess this phase is teaching me a lot of self discipline and faith that I will be able to pull through.

After two days of trying to brush my teeth softly, but as thoroughly as possible, I've also found it hard to get in between the wires and have gone with my ortho's advice to buy some interdental brushes. I took a trip down to Guardian and Watsons and was really surprised to find such big price differences! It was quite an eye opener looking through the dental sections. I mean, how different can interdental brushes get?! However, although they were pricier, I have to commend Watsons for having done such a good job with their extensive range of dental products.

These were from Guardian at only $3.35!
And these were at Watsons with the prices starting at $6!
Life nowadays has pretty much centred around trying to take care of my braces as well as planning meals and trying to meet my daily caloric intake (which is honestly quite a feat considering I have such limited options and barely have much time or patience to eat so slowly). It's only been a few days, but it's amazing how such a "little" change in life can have such effects... but I'm glad for this period of transition.

As we reach the last day of the year, it's time for closure as well as a time for goal setting and I'm excited! This coming year is going to be the best year yet!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Brace yourself for the ride!

Yay, braces!
Today is my first full day with braces. I had them put on yesterday morning and it was such an amazing experience! It was a big deal for me because it marks a day where I've chosen to do something really substantial and life-changing....and just for myself.

The taste of rubber, metal and glue after the whole process wasn't too pleasant though, and it felt pretty uncomfortable having new foreign bodies literally stuck on your teeth. However, after the whole procedure that surprisingly only took all of a half hour, I couldn't help but take a look in the bathroom mirror and considered how momentous this decision I had made for myself was. In the words of a best friend of mine who always knows what to say "Hang in there - and I am sure you will not regret your decision at the end of this journey." And with that, he left me with much anticipation and hope to reach the end of this three year process. I couldn't help but smile my normal gummy (and now braces-enhanced) smile in the mirror. I am excited.

The first meal was a big deal for me and was probably one of my most interesting (see: annoying) eating experiences this year. My cuisine of choice was my default Japanese selection. The only difference now, as I looked through the menu, was that I suddenly realized that I had a lot of boundaries (serious restrictions) to what I could and couldn't eat. It pretty much sucked that I couldn't have sushi anymore (without any regret or worry that something would get stuck in my braces and cause a helluva tough time brushing things out after), nor my favorite Kani Mentai Maki for a while. I really really hope it'd still be on the menu after 3 years! I eventually ordered a chawanmushi... And, with the egging on of my lunch buddy, a salmon belly misoshiru soup as well. And there the table was set for one of the most self-conscious and uncomfortable eating experiences in my life so far. I don't think I've ever appreciated mastication as much... Till I realized how uncomfortable it was to be swallowing vegetables (that I love!), mushrooms, and ginkgo nuts whole. My teeth were just too sensitive to chew on anything...and somehow food is just not the same when you can't chew them to little bits. I finally understood in totality the importance of what the food industry calls "mouthfeel".

Thank you, spoon.
The rest of the day just made the whole experience more real. Eating my favourite Baked Sesame Mochi from Sun Moulin at Lido turned out to be a torture as I couldn't chew on it anymore and had to tear it to little bits and swallow the bits whole. The whole new arduous process of consuming this little morsel of food made me feel quite nauseous after - which drastically affected how much I liked it. I couldn't have the popcorn and nachos at a movie outing after either. But I think the worst was when I went to Starbucks practically starving at the end of the day, and having to look over everything in the display counter that required teeth action to consume, and instead ordering a Mango Passionfruit Frap...and discovering I couldn't even use the straw! I just somehow couldn't position my lips properly to suck on the straw. :( I eventually requested for a spoon and literally spooned little mounds of my icy mango passionfruit blend onto my tongue to slide down my throat. I only got to finish about half of it before the rest had melted into liquid and I was simply too tired to drink the rest of it.

The salad I had to abandon.
Oh WHY... :(
Even today, I wanted SO much to have a salad I've been eyeing in the refrigerator for a while now (I simply cannot resist vegetables!), but after spending almost ONE HOUR trying to squish a cherry tomato in my mouth between my tongue and the roof of my mouth, I had to sadly give the rest of the bowl of green deliciousness up. I did have some almond beancurd though... as if that were worth any substantial consolation.  

Last night, whilst I lounged on my couch with a terribly empty feeling in my stomach, I immediately launched into an hour of researching "braces friendly foods". It's pretty amazing how much information there is. I think I spent a good hour or two scrolling through discussion threads and friendly orthodontic sites, but it simply looks like it's going to be a year of soft eggs, soups, squished vegetables, blends, and other mushy stuff. It was actually pretty depressing. 

I promise to be good for 10 months, but I plan to reward myself with a whole bag of Cheetos puffs for my birthday in October... which will be probably followed by a full hour of teeth brushing. ^^

The start of this process has been superbly exciting though. I'm really looking forward to seeing my teeth shift into their rightful positions, getting my jaw surgery done, and starting life again with a better bite and hopefully ulcer free! 

In order to speed up the process, I've also been doing a little research on how braces work to move teeth, and thereby hopefully find ways to shorten this process... Kinda like my little geeky way of handling life's little adventures. :)

What I've found so far:
  1. Understanding: Braces basically work by exerting forces on your teeth using the wires connected (also called the "archwire"). The archwire "activates" to some extent due to the increased temperature inside your mouth which causes it to straighten and "pull" on your teeth into position. Here's some good simple explanatory material.
    • What it means to me: 
      • Keep your mouth warm to keep the wire pulling? Maybe drink slightly warmer drinks?
  2. Understanding: How the braces force a tooth into a different position is by basically gently pulling it slightly loose into a new position and having the bone below it regrow to hold the tooth in place. There is also a new product in the market called Acceledent which basically gently shakes your teeth through micropulses for 20 minutes a day that supposedly accelerates the movement of your teeth and drastically cuts your treatment time. 
    • What it means to me:
      • Talk and move your teeth often in the day to encourage them to tug away and encourage faster shifting. The bone growth can take place at night when you're sleeping.
      • Make sure you get enough calcium, nutrition, and sleep.
  3. Understanding: Tooth decay or breaking of the wires or brackets slows down the process cause there's rework to be done.
    • What it means to me:
      • No sweets or sticky stuff that's going to be nasty on the brackets. (Oh no! My favourite baked mochis!) 
      • No hard foods. (Oh no! My delicious olive bread! :() 
      • Be very careful with the braces so that there needn't be any replacements.
      • Brush often, gently, and thoroughly.
The orthodontist estimated 1.5 years to get things in place before the surgery, but I'm planning to visit him once every 3 weeks (instead of 4) to hopefully speed things up and set my jaw surgery date for Q1/2  2014. I can't wait for this to be over!

On other notes: 
Mount E Orchard has the most extravagant parking charges! Did you know that they charge $2.50 per HALF hour?! I didn't! And the fact hit me pretty hard with a $12 deduction on my cashcard as I exited the lot after my appointment. :( Lesson learned: Next time, I'll park at Paragon...or at Wheelock and walk over.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Becoming Ariela

Ariela - Lioness of God
Inspired by a friend to start another blog specifically on my journey with new decisions in my life, I've started this page to journal God's goodness in my life as I make courageous decisions.

Ariela is a name the Lord gave me and has a long time since been adopted as my middle name. It is interesting how I properly adopted it during a time when I really searched myself and questioned my identity and the person I was made to be - which began the search of the true meaning of my name - including "Ariela". Somehow the name appeared with me since I was a little girl and sporadically popped up in my mind throughout my life...perhaps it was the remnant of playing pretend in the heights of "The Little Mermaid" fandom as a girl, or maybe something more, but it stuck. The discovery of the true meaning of the name "Ariela" surprised me for it means "Lioness of God" - pretty much describing a boldness, courageous stance, and majesty. It surprised me not for the fact that it stood for so much, but for that it was so starkly different from the fearful girl that I knew myself to be - the girl who hid behind her father's legs when she was little because she feared strangers, the girl who hid from the world as a depressed overweight primary school child, the girl who made decisions with as much commitment as to the sway of the opinions of others, the girl who procrastinated for fear she would always make the wrong choice, the girl who never believed she was "good enough" to make solid decisions for herself. The girl who ran away.

And yet, this was the name the Lord chose for me. Ariela. Lioness of God. Bold, courageous, victorious.

The name of the page basically shares my heart's desire. And now, the existence of this page marks a new beginning, a new commitment to grow to all the the Lord has called me to become. This page serves to journal all the new courageous decisions I'm going to make and to call me accountable to myself that I will no longer procrastinate nor fear these decisions. This page shall be an archive of my victorious triumphs of some of the most personal struggles and internal battles I have fought and never felt strong enough to overcome.

For a start, in the past week, I decided that I will finally go for my jaw surgery. 

I realize that I have been pretty harsh on myself these past TEN years. Ten years of fear, ten years of thinking of what others thought first, ten years of letting others decide for me, ten years of internal debate. Ten years of running. But today, it shall stop. (In fact, it stopped this past week. :))

So here's to a new me. The TRUE me.

Here's to becoming Ariela - the woman I was made to be.