Anything that could be grafted has been grafted. (Oral surgery 3-month post-op report! FINAL for real.)

I realized that I owe an update to those of you following my adventures in gum-grafting. Thank you for your interest! This little report will be the last one, because it’s about my three-month post-op appointment that took place in the middle of July. I am remiss, but I’m here with it now.

The outcome of the appointment? My doctor is highly pleased with the lower graft. I didn’t know that he had that kind of enthusiasm in him, because he wasn’t as happy with the way my upper graft did back in November. I would even venture that he was dismayed by it. The two surgeries for the same objective couldn’t have been more opposite. November’s surgical post-op was rough. Healing was slow. My personal belief is that the cadaver whose tissue is now in my mouth was someone I’d wronged in a past life. They got their revenge.

With my own tissue being used for May’s surgery, I can say with certainty that I haven’t wronged myself, because everything about the surgery was as close to perfect as it could be.

I still feel a somewhat unpleasant weirdness in the tissue-harvesting site on the roof of my mouth, but I’m accustomed to it, and I know that over time, it’ll feel like nothing again. I’m eating everything with no issues, even if it’s slightly uncomfortable at times.

Speaking of eating, let me be obnoxious for a second and show you what I devoured for dinner this evening. It was simple and sublime because it was two of my favorite foods on one plate, and those plates are the best!


Roasted Brussels sprouts with steamed cold Japanese sweet potato


I had to run a couple of errands after work today, and I was so late getting home that I decided to prepare the food before my workout, rather than after. The roasted Brussels sprouts were room temperature and the Japanese sweet potato was chilled and it was all such a blessing.

Looping back around to the surgery, there will be no further post-op reports. If I had a triple row of teeth I’d be anticipating my third gum-grafting surgery, but alas, I only have the upper and lower rows.

The End.



Lounging like a lizard/smiling like it never happened! (Post-op update 5 – the last!)

Hello, my friends. I have a little update from yesterday, and one from today. They’re complete opposites.



My pain med schedule around the clock broke my sleep into two and four-hour chunks, and after several days of that, it showed. I did my makeup carefully, but no amount of concealer was going to disguise my tired eyes as alert eyes. I had an appointment, and I wanted alert eyes to show that I’m an alert person! I gratefully took my undereye bags and dark circles with me and tried to come across as alert. It was an evening appointment.

(I wish my brain could’ve been more alert yesterday, too. I did the best I could with the few intact brain cells that I had.)

I rested when I could during the day. The post-op instruction sheet said that I could remove the stent while “sleeping or lounging”; I had to lounge, because I can’t take naps. When I lounge, though, I lounge. I excel at it. I can lounge with the best of the lizards. I’m a true reptile mom.


Brain-dead and lounging. [27 May 2020]

Still brain-dead and lounging. [27 May 2020]




Despite Saturday morning’s blood-gushing shenanigans, the doctor found everything to be great when he examined me this morning. My nine days of healing had not been undone. He REMOVED MY STITCHES and gave me the go-ahead to WORK OUT!!!

I’ll be back in the garage lifting weights on Saturday morning!

This surgical experience turned out to be nothing like November’s, and I’m so incredibly grateful for that. I still have pain on the roof of my mouth, but it’s tolerable with the ibuprofen and acetaminophen. I came home and tentatively ate a slice of bread with peanut butter and jelly! By “tentatively,” I mean I chewed on the left side. The tissue was removed from my right side. I’ll continue chewing on the left side for awhile.


Today: Stitches-free and waking up! [28 May 2020]


Remember how November’s surgery post-op updates went on and on and on? Not this time. This one is the last, and since both my upper and lower gums have been done now, it’s the LAST last.

Thank you so much to all of you who’ve left sweet comments on my social media, and to all of you who take the time to read my posts. It means the world to me.

Happy Friday Eve, All!



Complications messing with my plans. (Post-op update 4.)

I hit a little snag in my surgery recovery over the weekend. My mouth filled up with blood immediately after I got out of bed on Saturday morning.

As I’d learned from the steel door incident last summer, it’s awkward trying to control a bleed when it’s coming fast. My mouth kept filling up and filling up, and every tissue I shoved in came out soaked, and I had to do it quickly because the bleeding was constant, and I found out that it’s really tricky to continuously stuff tissues in and out of your mouth without getting blood everywhere while calling the doctor’s office and writing down the after-hours emergency phone number and then hanging up and calling that new number that’s not saved in your phone. I stopped with the tissues just long enough to gargle my brief message through a mouthful of blood when the emergency voicemail picked up. Do these kinds of post-op snafus ever NOT happen on a weekend?

Fortunately, the blood wasn’t coming from my graft. It was coming from my palette, the tissue-harvesting site on the roof of my mouth. The transplant site is fine.

It’s an excellent doctor who calls you back within two minutes of leaving a message, let me tell you. Have I mentioned before that my doctor is excellent? He is. He called right away and calmly made sure I knew that this isn’t an uncommon event, that the palette can and does re-open and gush blood. It was reassuring that he said “gush” when I hadn’t described it that way, because it meant that he was familiar with this scenario. This truly is a thing that happens.

He asked me whether I’d done anything that would’ve elevated my heart-rate. I said no, but thinking of it later, I guess I made the mistake of doing too much while not wearing my stent. I’m only supposed to have the stent out while I’m “sleeping or lounging.” I’d had it out the day before while I was doing things around the house, i.e. light cleaning. If I’d then had restless dreams that created tension in my mouth or caused me to press my tongue to the roof of my mouth, that could’ve done it.

Anyway, it all ended well. I followed the doctor’s instructions, and twenty minutes later, the bleeding stopped. The problem was fixed, over, and done within half an hour. He told me to put my stent back in and leave it in for 48 hours straight, as I did at the very beginning.

And that’s what brought me to the challenge of steering my mental state back toward the positive: I’m worried that I’m back at the beginning, since the clotting came undone after nine days of healing. Will it take another nine days to get to that point again? Or has the wound healed enough from the inside such that it’s not as deep now, so the healing can pick up where it left off? I’ll find out when I go for my two-week follow-up on Thursday.

In any case, the incident created a set-back that disrupts my plans. You know how I feel about my plans. I admit that it’s been a bit tough keeping my spirits up.

I was so confident when I checked in with you last Thursday, too!

I miss actual food, and I don’t know why I torture myself watching mukbangs on YouTube when I can’t eat.

Speaking of food, I did decide to step on the scale this morning. I was ready for it: I’ve lost six pounds. I’m back down to 115. I’d figured as much, even though I’ve been trying to consume more calories this time around. At least my nutrition is solid, and I know that I’ll regain the weight soon once I can eat normally again and get back to lifting weights. Of that, I’m 100% confident.

I added that last sentence lest this post dissolve into the whine-fest I didn’t want to write. I actually wasn’t going to share this incident here at all, but you’re here with me on my gum-grafting surgery adventure because I brought you along! I’m keeping it real.

On a happier note from Saturday morning, I went back to bed after the bleeding stopped and woke up to find Nenette sleeping on the pillow next to me. This is what I saw when I opened my eyes:


My sweet daughter purring on the pillow next to me.


I’ll have another update after my Thursday appointment! I hope you guys are having a great start to your week!



Healing like a boss + selfies with Geronimo! (Post-op update 3!)

Today was a largely wonderful, magical, splendiferous day for two major reasons:

1). My doctor was very pleased when he examined my healing progress this morning! This surgery’s one-week, post-op scenario proved to be the complete opposite of November’s. Despite the hydroxychloroquine I’m continuing to take, everything is healing and knitting together “beautifully” and right on track. I go back next week for my two-week post-op. That’s when I might get my stitches removed.

Thing 1: The doctor said it’s possible that my healing took longer in November because my body simply wasn’t eager to accept the cadaver tissue. We used my own tissue this time, so my body’s like, oh, okay, I know YOU. Come on in.

Thing 2: I’m still at pain levels that involve looking at the clock every other hour to see when I can take another dose of ibuprofen or acetaminophen, but it is getting better.

Thing 3: I haven’t weighed myself.

Before my home workouts, I weighed 115. After five weeks of lifting heavier weights and doing more cardio workouts at home, I weighed 121 (pre-surgery weight). If anything has happened to those gains in the last week, I don’t want to know about it. I mean, it’s inevitable that I’m going to lose some weight, but I’d just rather not see it on the scale, you know?  I’m confident that I’m not going to end up with another 7-lb loss! I’ve learned. I’m making a much greater effort to force down more substantial food this time around, even though it hurts and it’s gross.

Speaking of working out, I still can’t. I thought I might be able to do Pump this Saturday, but I have to wait another week, and I’m totally okay with that. The doctor explained that elevating my heart-rate would disturb the progress of the little blood vessels that are busy growing and connecting, and if that happens, the transplant could fail. I’m feeling confident that I’ll get back to Pump next week Saturday! It’s not going to take over a month, as it did last time. Resuming my workouts sooner rather than later is going to help a lot with maintaining my weight, too, obviously.

All told: Things are going well, and I’m feeling confident.

2). I got some selfies with my son this afternoon!!!


I’ve got that tortoise-mom glow going on


He’s smiling!! I love, love, love being a tortoise mom, a reptile mom, Geronimo’s mom! I have this other pic wherein Geronimo’s looking straight at the camera:


My baby boy


I can’t with this guy. My heart can’t contain the love that I have for him.

For lighting contrast, here’s a selfie that I took in my office this morning:


Hi from my office


The vagaries of lighting, right?! I’m wearing the same make-up and everything in these pics that were all taken today, but morning/indoors/daylight face looks totally different, hue-wise, than afternoon/outdoors/shade face. (Photographed in bright, direct sunlight, Nenette’s fur is amazing. You can really see it. I wish I could capture it more often.)

Happy Friday Eve, my friends!

OH! Wait! I wanted to share this video with you, because it’s made me so happy all week:



Okay, now I’m out.



Non-narcotic pain med combo FYI. (Post-op update 2!)

It’s now been six days since my gum-grafting surgery. Can I just say that I AM SO GLAD THIS IS THE END OF IT. We have upper gums and lower gums, and now that both of mine have been grafted, I am done.

Days 1-3 weren’t too terrible. I was happy that things didn’t seem as difficult as they were after my November surgery! Days 4-present, though, have been kind of rough. I stopped trying to take it day by day and started congratulating myself on getting from six hours to six hours. I can take an 800 mg ibuprofen (Advil) every six hours. The dose lessens the pain somewhat, but three hours in, I’m looking at the clock in desperation.

Other than intense pain, it’s really not so bad, and I’m thankful for that. I don’t have much in the way of bruising this time… just a little bit around my eyes, and a little beneath my chin. I’m not nearly as swollen and misshapen as I was in November. I’m not having to contend with the uncomfortable sensation of my gums suffocating beneath a thick band of foreign (cadaver) tissue.

But the pain, man.

The worst part of the pain comes from the roof of my mouth. From the looks of it, the doctor carved pretty deep into my palette to get the strip of tissue he needed. It certainly doesn’t feel like a mere “bad pizza burn” on the roof of my mouth, has he’d said it would. Doctors are hilarious in how they understate things like that, aren’t they? Hilarious and creative.

Callaghan took a pic of the tissue-removal site, but I’m thinking it’s kind-of-maybe too gory to post here, so I’ll refrain. Instead, I’m posting a video clip I took this morning. OH – those of you who follow me on Instagram, I’m sorry if you were around during my attempts to post the video to stories. It failed, obviously.

I recorded this after I woke up the second time today, just after noon. I threw on some clothes and sat down to tell you about my spectacular re-discovery: you can use both acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil) for pain control, either alternating them or taking them together. I knew this, but I’d forgotten! If you’re also narcotics-challenged, this is good for you to know in the event that you have surgery.

Not sure why I’ve been inclined to film myself talking when it hurts to talk, but I have been, so I’m going with it. Again, I’m sorry for being less than clear. It sounds like I’m saying “i-be-profen” rather than “i-bu-profen,” so please forgive me for that. The best thing about the video is that Nenette appears in it, and she had no idea! We’re both looking a little pasty due to our lighting being less than ideal, as usual, but you can kind of see her colors.



That’s all I’ve got for today, friends. I hope your week’s off to a great start!



Unstitched at last. (Post-op update 4!)

The corny word of the day is “whew.” I was so terribly relieved to walk out of the oral surgeon’s office this morning with no stitches.

I don’t have pics of my new gums yet, though. “It’ll take a good two, maybe three months for your gums in the front to drop,” said the doctor. I might have pics at the end of February, then… I mean, I’ll have them for my own reference. If any of you are still interested in seeing the before/after, I’ll post them here!

The doctor showed me how to brush my teeth to coax my new gums down.

As for eating, I’m not permitted to bite into anything with my front teeth or to use my front teeth at all for “at least” another month. I don’t feel that I’m that limited in what I can eat, though! If I can put the food on a utensil and stick it into my mouth and chew it with my back teeth, then we’re good! I suppose I can eat almost anything I want if I cut it up into little pieces. I’m also having to take small bites and eat slowly, which I’m finding feels natural as I transition from not eating to eating.

Examples of foods I’ll avoid due to lack of patience and little trust that I can chew them with just my back teeth: sandwiches, protein bars, any solid fruits or sturdy, raw veggies, hearty breads, etc.

I’m just so happy to be able to eat anything at all. I weighed myself yesterday. I’ve lost about eight pounds since the surgery.

Oh! As time passes, my new gums will start to feel like they belong in my mouth, and that’ll also be nice!

I’m still lisping a little bit, but that will resolve itself soon. My gums are still tender. (It hurt like a mofo having the stitches removed.) I’m still not totally comfortable smiling normally, which is, like, whatever at this point. My face has been mostly immobile for three weeks, so I’m used to it now. Ha!

I’m so grateful to be feeling better. The uncomfortable stitches are gone, my appetite is coming back, and I can eat again. I’ll be able to have Thanksgiving side dishes, and I’ve got some really good ones on my menu. I can’t believe that Thanksgiving is in two days!



Gum-grafting UNconclusion. (Post-op update 3!)

Never assume that you’ll get your stitches removed on suture-removal day. One never knows.

I thought I was going to have pics of my new Frankenstein gums today after getting my stitches removed, but alas, the stitches are still there. The doctor said that we need to leave them in for one more week.

Luckily, I took a selfie this morning before leaving the house, so you can see the eagerness on my face. Bright daylight! Exciting day!

Before the appointment:


Feeling human


After the appointment:


Feeling ghoulish, and not in a good way


I took this one a couple of hours ago in the low-lit kitchen, the room darkened under late-afternoon rain clouds and me in one of my favorite tees (courtesy of Reviewbrah at TheReportOfTheWeek).

It’s a total coincidence that I’m wearing this t-shirt at home today, I’ll have you know. I admit to wearing the same at-home outfit for as many days as cleanliness allows so as to minimize laundry. This also makes getting dressed a no-brainer: I just grab whatever’s hanging on the rack in the bathroom. This is the tee I put on yesterday, so this is the one I grabbed when I got home from my appointment. It’s a coincidence, but yeah, it fits in more ways than one.

At any rate, I shouldn’t be surprised. I’m no longer on methotrexate, and I went off of my hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) specifically for this surgery, because that medication supposedly does its thing by way of messing with the immune system in autoimmune patients (I have an over-active immune system, aka autoimmunity)… but maybe the Plaquenil hangs around in the system for some length of time. I don’t know. Inexplicable shit happens with autoimmunity, which is one reason why we put off this surgery for so long.

The doctor had initially cautioned that autoimmunity could complicate the healing process, so here we are.

No doubt this can and does happen to people with non-berzerko immune systems, too, though, right? Healing-times vary from person to person; some people may take longer to heal for no reason at all.

More soup for me, then! Good thing I love it! I’m going to find some new recipes and discover some insanely delicious soups I never would have found were it not for this surgery. Maybe I’ll report back on my yumtastic findings so you guys can enjoy them, too.



One week later… (Post-op update 2!)

It’s been one week since my gum-grafting surgery!

Things are moving along in the healing process as the bruises migrate down my neck. When Callaghan got home from work late this afternoon, he said that it looks worse than yesterday, but that’s, like, his opinion, man.

Here’s how the situation looked this morning less than five minutes after I woke up:


Post-op Day 7


The next surgery-related pics I’ll post will be of my actual gums, as some of you have requested. If the doctor lets me have copies of the “before” and “after” pics taken by his assistant, I’ll post those! I’ll see if I can include a selfie of my Frankenstein gums pre-suture removal, too.

There’s been no change in the pain these last few days, but I’m fine as long as I stay on my ibuprofen schedule. The bottle of oxycodone sits untouched on my dresser; I have no use for stuff that doesn’t work for me.

The one sensation that’s bothersome because nothing can alleviate it but time is the foreign-matter-plastered-over-my-gums one. (Not complaining. Just saying.)

As for the gym? At this point, I know that I’m not going to make it back to Body Pump this Saturday, as I’d hoped, or next week at all, for that matter. I’ll go back maybe the following week, which will be the last week of November, which will also be… Thanksgiving week. We’ll see. I just might wait until December to return to the gym, then, and you know what? I’m totally okay with that.

I’ve been working on home projects that’ve been nagging at me for months. Purging files, for instance. You know the feeling. You have copies of the taxes you filed more than 20 years ago just sitting in file boxes that are taking up space in your closet, and you spend months thinking I HAVE to go through ALL of my files and do a huge purge, and then life hands you a surgery, and your procrastinating ass is stuck at home looking at the files, and you’re out of excuses. It’s an awesome feeling, really. I’m getting so much done!

Food-wise, it’s all been good: every day I have a vanilla protein shake, a chocolate protein shake (both Vega); organic vegetable broth with whole grain Saltines for dunking, so they’re soft; organic vegan miso broth with tofu, green onions, and brown rice stirred in, so the rice is soft; plain, unsweetened coconut milk yogurt; and a smoothie made with frozen banana and berries; coconut water; chia seeds; and spinach.

The smoothie is where I get my fruit and veggies! I have a big spinach salad in smoothie form every day. The first three ingredients combined reach the blender’s halfway mark, and then I stuff the top half with as much baby spinach as will fit. It comes out like a super thick milkshake I can eat with a spoon, and it’s tasty! Callaghan enjoys it, too. We’ve cycled through daily smoothie phases before, and now we’re back at it. We fill our big Ninja blender to the top and share it.

I guess this counts as a change: I’m not hungry anymore. I still crave certain foods, but I feel satisfied and well-nourished with all the vitamins, minerals, protein, and complex carbs I’m consuming every day. I’m not lacking anything, and I look forward to the food I eat. After I get my stitches removed next week, I’ll graduate to chunky soups (lentil, split pea, veggie, etc.), so that will be different, yet.

And there you have it for today’s update. My stitches come out next week Tuesday, so I’ll post the gum pics that day.

Happy Friday Eve, my friends!



Double-mint gums. (Post-op update 1!)

First of all, you guys, the response to my last post about my gum grafting surgery was just totally unexpected and rad. Thank you all so much for your good wishes!

I’m happy to report that so far, my plan to make October a month of awesome and November a month of ghastly pain and discomfort is going very well. This makes me happy. I like when things go according to plan.

As expected, my face has been swollen, misshapen, and multi-hued, starting on the blue end of the spectrum on both sides. The left side of my face was more severely mangled. I’ve had a fat upper lip that’s prevented me from closing my mouth, which has caused my lip to crack and peel with dryness in spite of constant lip balm application. I haven’t gone out in public since the surgery, because I’d rather not have people stare and wonder WTF.

It’s getting better every day, so everything’s healing well! I noticed that the swelling had gone down a little when I woke up yesterday morning, and the hue of the bruising on my face had turned to a beautifully saturated yellow. I do indeed look like I’d been in a fight. If anyone were to see me and comment to that effect, I would say, “You should see the other guy. He’s a cadaver.” Which would be true.

Here’s a pic I took this morning:


Post-op Day 5


(It’s hard to see here, but the area beneath my jawbone is streaked purple. The other side of my face is also bruised.)

I wanted to tell you about the most interesting aspect of this surgery, though. I came up with this genius idea to do something that’d never occurred to me before: upon insertion of the I.V. anesthesia needle, I would remain as aware as possible so that I could analyze the feeling of going under, discover whether it would be possible to resist it, and determine at what point I wouldn’t be able to do that.

This scheme turned the anesthesia process into a bizarre and utterly surreal event.

Strenuously resisting the anesthesia and paying great attention to it made my descent into unconsciousness a jagged and mildly unnerving experience. It created a sensation of plummeting down from floor to floor within a tall building, bouncing off the staircase landings in between, my fall disrupted at intervals.

Feeling cemented to my back while dropping down distinct levels brought the vaguest sense of panic into my field of perception. It was panic so far removed, it was a mere echo, like a ghost in the ether – it was there, but it couldn’t approach. I simply concentrated on the feeling of falling through the center of my own being, pulled downward bit by bit through a widening black sinkhole that opened from my solar plexus while the surgeon’s murmurings faded into pointlessness, like post-apocalyptic static filtering through a surviving short-wave radio.

And then I woke up.

As cool as it was, I don’t think I’ll repeat this experiment when my next surgery comes around in April.

Back in the present, I’m working through pain and the unpleasant sensation of my gums suffocating beneath the cadaver tissue plastered over them. There’s this feeling that I’ve got a thick band of foreign matter wrapped around my gums, and it’s maddening. I want to reach in and rip it out. I know that my body is busy growing nerves and whatnot to connect everything together, but I wish it would hurry up!

My tongue has become accustomed to the feel of the suture knot behind my front teeth. The other thing I’m trying to disregard is the fact that I can’t brush my upper teeth at all. I’m using the medicinal cleansing solution given to me, but it doesn’t make my teeth feel clean. The nurse on the phone this morning reiterated that I can’t brush until after my stitches come out, because until then, the stitches are all that’s holding my gums together.

The stitches come out next week.

I’m famished.

Watching Zach Choi ASMR (YouTube) has been a keen exercise in self-torture, but I can’t help myself.

Foods I dream of shoveling into my mouth with shameless abandon:

  • Salad dripping with OLIVE OIL and red wine vinegar
  • Roasted Brussels sprouts and broccoli, also saturated with OLIVE OIL
  • Roasted, SALTED nuts
  • Pasta with GARLIC and OLIVE OIL
  • Pizza with vegan cheese, double mushrooms, double black olives, red onion, and also vegan chorizo (SALTY AND SPICY)
  • A huge bowl of Asian noodles with lots of veggies (SALTY AND SPICY)
  • Chips and salsa and vegan-cheese nachos with pickled jalapeños (CRUNCHY AND SALTY AND SPICY)

Also, APPLE CIDER VINEGAR… and I can’t wait to chew gum again! (Pun not intended.) I miss MINT. I want double the mint, double the everything.


Aside from chewing gum, I don’t want sweets at all, because most of what I’ve been consuming has been sweet/not-savory, and I’m definitely a salty/savory person. I’m planning the sides I’m going to make for Thanksgiving, and I’m hoping that my craving for salt doesn’t lead to me to over-season the dishes. Thanksgiving dinner will be the first “real food” meal I’ll have, and I have to remember that I won’t be the only one eating the food that I make.

Until Thursday, then!


October is over, so I finally went ahead with it. (Gum grafting surgery!)

October was splendiferous. I wanted it to be so, and I made it so with a little bit of strategic scheduling: I put off my oral surgery just a little bit longer. After postponing it for more than two years, how could another month matter much?

I had the surgery this morning, and because I’m immeasurably blessed, I spent the rest of the day and evening convalescing at the home of angels. They do not wish to be named, but “angels” will do. They picked me up early this morning to take me in, came to collect me afterward, and brought me home to their house. It was a two-hour surgery, and I was wiped out! I have no memory of my follow-up appointment being made, or of being taken to the car in a wheelchair. One minute I was getting an I.V. inserted, and the next minute I was in the car with an ice-pack.


Several hours post-op [7 November 2019]


Standard post-op pain notwithstanding, it feels so good to have had this done. Surgery wasn’t possible while I was taking certain meds, so I finally decided to stop taking them just long enough to do it and recover from it. Today was Surgery, Part 1. Part 2 will take place in the spring, and I’ll be sure to clear the temporary med-cessation aspect with my rheumatologist. I’m feeling properly contrite about having gone off my meds without consulting her first.

About the surgery, though!

I’d had no idea that such a thing existed as gum recession caused by extensive childhood orthodontia. My surgeon described the phenomenon with technical language and a diagram drawn and demonstrated in the air. Two years later, I don’t remember the details of the explanation – I just remember the words “flaring out” –  but the nurse who fits me for my retainers summarized it simply as there was so much orthodontic movement happening in my bones when I was young and still growing that now, decades later, my gums have pulled back from my teeth.

I found basically nothing about this when I went to research it online, save for two studies that largely dispute the connection… not that we believe the internet to be a 100% reliable source of medical education.

In any case, my orthodontia was the orthodontia of the 70’s and 80’s; no doubt the technology’s evolved since then. I was an O.G. metal-mouth, the first one in my class. My nine-year orthodontic adventure started in 1976, when I was seven, and it unfolded in two phases between which I had two full sets of braces (first metal bands, then metal brackets), tooth extractions, both a neckgear and a headgear, “separators,” a “positioner,” rubber bands, and retainers. It was a lot. At one point during Phase 2, I had a full set of metal brackets, a full head-gear, and four rubber bands crisscrossing in my mouth from front to back all at once!

All of this was to correct an overbite and crooked teeth, and I’m grateful for it. I’m grateful and glad that it was even a possibility for me. I’m also glad that orthodontia looks different enough now that maybe children today won’t grow up to develop gums receding from teeth that had “flared out,” or whatever it was that supposedly happened as an orthodontic aftereffect.

In this morning’s surgery, the doctor fixed my upper gums by grafting cadaver tissue over them. (He’ll do the lower ones in the spring.) He’s going to remove my stitches in two weeks. I can’t work out at all for at least a week, he said, and it’ll be a month before I can go back to eating the way I normally do.

Right now, of course, the pain is super real. I feel like I’ve been K.O’d, and I can barely open my mouth. This will happen when your jaws are pried open and held open for two hours! I can’t smile or really move my face at all, I’m drinking water and liquid food through my teeth, and I’m wondering how I’m going to get through the month without losing weight.

But again, I have no complaints. I’m truly so fortunate that I’m able to have these surgeries. Life is good.