Cheers, 2018

It’s 11:56pm on December 31st, 2018, and I decided that I can’t let 2018 draw to a close without a little reflection.

I was looking at some of my journal entries from the end of last year, and I was in a dark place. I felt hopeless, and helpless, and powerless, and all those other adjectives that mean your soul hurts. I had lots of reasons – good reasons, I think – to feel this way, but also lots of reasons to not feel that way. I think that’s how it usually is.

At the beginning of this year, I decided that 2018 would be the year I felt powerful again. I set big goals that felt like pipe dreams, but now, a year later – I somehow achieved the biggest ones. I got a new job. I bought a house. And my life feels completely different, in a good way. And I feel more like myself than I have in a very long time.

A lot of bad things happened in 2018 too, but mostly, 2018 is the year I learned – really learned, I think, for the first time – what it feels like to dream big dreams. And I think I’ll keep doing that, because even if I fail, at least I’ve become the kind of person who dreams big dreams. And sometimes that’s half the battle.

Fecal Microbiota Transplant (FMT) for Pouchitis – My Experience

It has now been over two years since my experience with FMT, and I have still neglected to document it in any way. This is just atrociously bad n=1 experimentation protocol on my part, and kind of speaks to how tapped out I was by The Great Search for Answers. I think the effort I went through to find/secure a part in/complete the FMT trial was all I had left in me at the time, so after it was over, I entered a phase of Staunchly Ignoring The Problems. Which was honestly very necessary. Sometimes ya just gotta take a break, you know?

But I owe it to my future self and the general knowledge bank of the internet to document and share what I can, so here we are! If you just want the cliff notes/what I learned (hint: there’s one exciting thing!), scroll to the bottom. Because per usual, this became way longer and more rambling than necessary. Read more →

A rant about science (alternately: All Hail Nuance and Skepticism)

Warning: this post falls squarely into the category of “cantankerous rant about thing I should probably stop getting so worked up over.” You’ve been warned.

I’ve noticed a troubling tendency in some scientific communities (maybe I should put “scientific” in quotes…I’m lookin’ at you, Facebook) to treat science as some kind of Truth, where certain issues can no longer be questioned or examined because “science” has already had the final word. And this all while maintaining a smug, condescending, high-horse attitude towards anyone who doesn’t act the same way and believe the same things. And it’s pervasive, and often by people I love and respect, which has made me question whether it’s just me being sensitive, and it’s not actually a problem. But it’s infuriating, and I DO think it’s a problem. Read more →

Palate Expansion Update: Concerning CBCT Scan Results

I am long overdue for a progress update! Last time I posted, I shared some progress pics, and was about to get a CBCT scan to reassure myself and my orthodontist that we weren’t pushing my teeth out of the bone.

Well…unfortunately, the CBCT scan was not reassuring. In fact, it was pretty concerning. At some point I’ll get around to posting screenshots from the scan, but for now, I’ll just share a snippet from the radiology report:

cbct scan results

In layman’s terms? Although the CBCT scan isn’t precise enough to tell us whether the roots of my teeth are fully poking through the bone, it can tell us that the bone outside of the roots on my upper teeth is extremely thin. And that’s not good.

Side note: Did you see what they said about my airway? Reduced airway space is one of the main risks of retractive orthodontics, and another reason why I need my maxilla expanded and pulled forward!

Anyway. Needless, to say, the CBCT results were pretty soul-crushing. I mean, I had spent a lot of time and money covering my bases and making sure I was doing this the right way, and I felt so confident that I was on the right track. Not only did this scan derail me completely, it also showed me that once again, all of the “experts” I had put my trust in might have been wrong. Read more →

5-Month Palate Expansion Progress Photos

Hey friends! It’s been five months since I began my journey with my first palate expander, and two months since I started with the DNA/Meridian appliance. I had them take some progress photos at my appointment this week, so I figured I’d share with the internet!

Full disclosure: I think the fact that my hair was wet and my eyes were kinda starting to close in the “before” photos makes the progress photos of my face look a bit more dramatic than they otherwise would. But you can definitely still see that there’s been progress! Also, these are definitely the most hideous photos of me to grace the internet thus far. Hooray. Read more →

The DNA Appliance Has Arrived! (APE Diary #6)


My DNA appliance has arrived! It’s technically a “meridian” appliance, but it’s essentially the same as a DNA – I think only certified practitioners are allowed to use the name-brand DNA appliance, so we’re using a knock-off. (Edit 10/18/18: To be clear, I was taking Dr. Lockhart’s word that the meridian is functionally the same as a DNA. There could certainly be differences that I am not aware of!)

It’s definitely far bulkier than my old expander, and required a lot more adjustment to fit to my mouth. The acrylic plates that cover the biting surface of my molars (occlusal plates) had to be shaved down to balance my bite (similar to a nightguard adjustment), which is always difficult in my case since my bite is so uneven (when my right molars are touching, I still have several millimeters of space between my left molars).

But it’s all adjusted now, and I’ve been wearing it for about two weeks. The verdict so far: Read more →

APE Diary #5: My Consult with Dr. Brad Lockhart

Note: We are now in realtime. I repeat, we have attained realtime.

March 27th, 2018

In case you didn’t read my previous post, here’s what’s up. Yesterday I flew across the entire country, drove an hour in a rental car in California traffic, and will repeat that entire process tomorrow, with the sole purpose of talking to a dentist for an hour today.

Luckily, it was the best dentist appointment ever, and Dr. Lockhart is fantastic, so it was worth the trip!

(Edit 9/6/18: My opinion of Dr. Lockhart has somewhat changed. Read the update here.)

To be honest though, this isn’t even unusual behavior for me. At least 75% of my life consists of doing things that people find very strange in order to fix obscure problems with my body that almost always sound made-up.

Okay, recap of the appointment. Read more →

APE Diary #4: Discovering Dr. Brad Lockhart

March 2018

Now that I had a midline gap proving that I was getting lateral expansion, I needed to figure out how to achieve forward expansion. One of the main problems I want to correct with this whole process is the fact that I don’t have enough room for my tongue, and it’s primarily in the forward direction that I need more space.

I’m not sure what search engine acrobatics I performed this time around that I didn’t in previous years, but somehow, I discovered Dr. Brad Lockhart. While dentists and orthodontists across the country continue to claim that palate expansion (or in Dr. Lockhart’s words, “arch development”) in adults is impossible, he’s been developing adult arches successfully (and non-surgically) for over 20 years!

I am equal parts elated and infuriated at this realization. Read more →

APE Diary #3: Gaps Achieved!

Note: APE stands for “Adult Palate Expansion.” (duh)

March 2018

I HAVE A GAP! (See pics below.) I’m so excited that this is actually working. Also relieved.

I’ve had the expander in for about ten weeks now, and have widened the expander quite a lot. There have been a few times where I’ve delayed turning the key by a day or two because it still felt tight, but mostly, I’ve been turning it every Monday and Friday. Read more →

Adult Palate Expansion Diary #2

January 2018

By January, I had officially decided to give this palate expansion thing a shot, lack of resources or direction be damned.

The first orthodontist I consulted with agreed with everything I said (woo), suggested that I study to become an orthodontist myself since I seem to know what I’m talking about (hmm), and told me he’s actually seen a few adults achieve true palate expansion (huzzah!).

But, he also said he didn’t think I could achieve enough expansion to accommodate two implants, and he wanted to put braces on me right away (concurrently with an expander), which I was not crazy about. The whole appointment also felt rushed, and I didn’t get all my questions answered. Pass. Read more →