Over the first couple of weeks with my braces, I developed a facial tic.
I'd kind of grimace on the left side of my face and bare my teeth like a wild animal with Bell's Palsy. I'd do this repeatedly. It looked something like this:
Although I was aware I was doing it, I was unaware of what it must look like to the outside world. I was mainly preoccupied with getting the side of my mouth off of a painful metal hook on one of my back molars. I also have a stack of composite material on my molar to keep me from closing my mouth entirely. I'd taken to chomping on it and grimacing as you see Senator McCain doing in the photo above.
Because I have moderate OCD-like tendencies, I became fixated on that side of my mouth. I'd chomp compulsively, I won't lie. And then after chomping violently and constantly for a few minutes, I'd jab myself in the cheek with the metal hook and then grimace to get the hook out of my cheek.
My husband started making the same face. At first I thought he was teasing me and I yelled at him for it. Well, if by saying, "Hey, quit making fun of me!" is considered yelling. He'd look all shocked and dismayed and say, "I'm not!" And then a few minutes later he'd be making the face again too:
Thus afflicted, we set out on a family trip to California with my seven-year-old son and our baby daughter. We rented a large family crossover, a Chevy Traverse, and more often than not I wound up in the middle seat between the two kids. Understandably, the seven-year-old got tired of having to care for the eleven-month-old's various needs and I had to give the poor kid a break.
So there I was, sitting contentedly in the middle seat, watching the scenery go by, chomping compulsively on my back molars and grimacing every few miles or so. You can imagine my husband's view in the rear view mirror:
Of course I could see his face in that same mirror as he peered at me. He'd look into my face and make the same face back at me, completely unaware he was doing so. Any cars passing us on the freeway would have seen this in our car:
"Are you making fun of me?" I'd yell.
"No!" he'd say and look shocked.
"You're making the face."
"I didn't realize it!"
And so it happened over and over again. It came to be that the only time I'd realize I was chomping and grimacing was when I could see my husband having sympathy tics. He seemed unable to stop. I finally had the moment of awareness that the only way I could stop the both of us from looking like complete snarling freaks was to stop the chain of facial tics myself.
I applied the skills I've learned in meditation on the tic. Every time I would realize I was grimacing, I would simply stop. I repeated this hundreds of times on our journey, and soon my husband was commenting on it.
"Hey, you're doing that thing with your mouth as much!"
"Neither are you," I said.
And that is how it came to pass that I saved both myself and my husband from a lifetime of facial tics and general freaky behavior in the mouth region. The moral of the story is that meditation basically makes you a superhero.
How am I adjusting to wearing braces? It's uncomfortable, yes. I often grimace just to get my lips off my teeth. It's quite possibly driving my husband nuts. Every time he turns around, I'm doing this:
I am also tired of eating soup and yogurt. But when I eat food that requires chewing, I can feel remnants of food clinging to the back of my teeth. Yuck. I've calculated that I have brushed my teeth 35 times in the last week. I wonder if there's a high correlation between wearing braces and developing OCD?
Fortunately I have super high-tech braces that only require 40% of the treatment time of traditional braces. I'm supposedly going to be out of these babies in the next 14 to 18 months.
If you would like to learn about my high-tech braces and the robots responsible for adjusting them, watch this news story from my local television station on my orthodontists' office:
I love how kids keep you honest. This teenager's opinion on his mother's adult braces? "I don't know. She's weird."
Aside from being a "weird" adult with braces, I also sound like Sean Connery. When I get tired or don't pay attention, I let too much air flow through the braces and I get a strong "Schw" sound with my S's.
Something like this:
Sean Connery on schlapping women? "I think it depends entirely on the cschircumschtanschces. ... Then I think it'sch abscholutely right."
I love how Barbara concludes with, "Sean Connery has been married for 31 years and we have not heard a single complaint" from his wife. Of course we haven't. He'd schlapp her around if she did!
Note to self: If the husband ever meets an untimely end, do not consider Sean Connery as a third husband candidate.
That's all on my first week with braces. If I keep writing I might scare away anyone considering getting braces as an adult. I think it's sort of like childbirth. You really shouldn't talk too much about it at first because you'll only scare other expectant moms. If you talk about it later on, you'll forget how much it actually sucked. Instead you'll talk about what a beautiful experience it was.