Monday, April 11, 2011

The Tale of the Facial Tic

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.

Then we lived happily ever after.

The end.


  1. We're sending things to Mars and to the bottom of the ocean, and yet braces are still monstrosities of metal.


  2. Ha ha ha. I don't know what was funnier. The story, or that you kept posting the same pic! Also, i know sometimes when people make a bad face i tend to do it too. not on purpose, it just happens!

    Hope youre getting used to the braces. Generally, if something is poking really badly, they can trim it, and in the mean time, you can put a big old ball of wax on it! Wax is your friend! Just make sure the metal is dry first or it won't stick.

  3. Hey, I like your "freaky behavior in the mouth region."

    If you know what I mean.

  4. @Just Me: I know! I've had that same thought. If they can make comfort curve wedding bands why can't they make comfort curve braces?

    @Jules: That Senator McCain picture really captures my look. And I tend to find the same thing funny over and over again. Slight OCD tendencies.

    P.S. The wax makes me look puffy.

    @Tanya: *Laugh!* It is! A freaky, twisted little love story.

    @Oink: I wrote that sentence and thought long and hard about whether to leave it up or not.

  5. Ah, I remember this. The grimace, stick lips way out over the braces, relax face. And repeat.

    I just did it five times while typing that last sentence. Crap.

  6. How did you get a picture of John McCain taking a dump?

  7. @Steamme: Spend a week in a car with me and you'd be a wreck. You're obviously an empath.

    @Wow Awkward: That picture should be a Depends ad.

  8. Be thankful it isn't palsey b/c if he's imitating you, he'd drool when you try to drink anything (I'm one of the few people that their bell's palsey never went away and it sucks).

    Btw, I agree with you on the meditation. I really helps me and glad it helped you.

  9. @Little Miss Blogger: My dad has Bell's Palsy too and his never went away entirely but it did improve.

  10. "Long and hard."

    Heh heh. Heh heh.

  11. Wow you could ride semi-cross-country and control the tics? That is impressive. I would've had them and I don't even have braces (or a spouse with a tic)!

  12. I'm surprised a long car ride with children didn't give you more facial ticks.

  13. Well...

    at least you got a great blog post out of it.

    Other than that, not much else nice to say about pain, is there?

  14. Sorry, every time you posted that picture I laughed harder and harder until I think I may have squeezed out a little fart with all the pressure.

  15. @Oink: *Stares at you*

    @Mel: I don't know how "cross-country" it was. It was more a couple of hours around state.

    @Logical Libby: It may have given me a case of Tourette's.

    @Susan in the Boonies: That's my attitude towards most discomfort.

    @The Vegetable Assassin: I think John McCain was doing that when they took the photo.

  16. This reminds me of the time I had my wisdom teeth pulled and was driving home with a mouth full of gauze and some dude cut me off and I forgot about the gauze and tried to yell at him (summer, window was down). I sounded like the elephant man and looked a bit like him I suspect. not cool. I'll meditate next time.

  17. Ha total blonde moment - I thought you guys drove out here from Detroit!!

  18. @Sherri: *Laugh!* That is awesome. Well, not awesome, but sort of awesome in a hilarious way.

    @Mel: I think the blonde moment was mine. The way I wrote it was ambiguous.

  19. Oh I can soooo relate to the braces grimace! Nice application of the meditation there, fellow traveler. (Clearly, judging from those pics, Senator McCain does not meditate...nor does he appear to have an empathic spouse.)

    (and sherri's comment made me laugh out loud at the image of that scene.)

  20. haha very nice. Well at least you used meditation and were able to control that. It must have been fun to watch though :P

  21. You know you really don't look like John McCain.)

  22. @La Fourchette: I think when he called his wife the c-word she may have lost all ability to have sympathy pains for him.

    @PorkStar: If by "fun" you mean "annoying," then yes.

    @The Last Santa: I do before I've had my morning coffee.

  23. Oh, thank you for making me laugh out loud.

    So many times.

    "thus afflicted, we set out."

    Thank you.

    (sorry for your pain)

  24. Also? Laughing at Sherri's comment

  25. @The Empress: I aim to please.


    And Sherri is hilarious.

  26. That was one HYSTERICAL post, thanks for the laugh!!
    Also, I'm so glad you don't have to make that face anymore.

  27. oh the things we mirror. LOL of course i get paranoid if anyone wipes their nose or whatever for fear they are mirroring me!