The End Is Near; Fifty Weeks In

The End Is Near

Oh, did you think I meant the end of the pandemic? I mean, sure, maybe we are nearer the end than the beginning, but what I meant was we are nearly done with orthodontia in this house.

It was exactly five years ago last week that my older son had braces put on, and many months before that when we started the whole process, and shortly after he had his removed – twenty-six months later – we started all over again with my younger son. Although my younger son was supposed to be on an eighteen-month program by the time he gets them off at the end of the month (it’s MARCH, OMG), it will have also been twenty-six months.

Some of you may remember that my younger son’s original orthodontist ended up being an actual criminal, and we were lucky to get into his current, non-criminal orthodontist, but also he broke two brackets in the first month of having braces, and between all that and then a global pandemic slowing his progress, well. It’s been a long haul, is what I’m saying.

For those of you with more than two children receiving orthodontic treatment, I salute you.

What is it with orthodontist offices? Orthodontia is a practice in which the patients are largely teenagers, and yet their offices do not cater in any way to actual teenagers. Trying to get an appointment is an exercise in extreme frustration. My older son had an orthodontist who was older and very distinguished in his career – he retired and sold his practice (hopefully unknowingly) to the criminal orthodontist – and that man was constantly in demand as a conference lecturer, so getting an appointment was difficult at best. Come back in six weeks! the office would say cheerfully, and then I would find out at the appointment desk that the orthodontist would be out of town giving a lecture series at that time.

I thought it would be better with the new orthodontist, but no. No. This young and vibrant orthodontist has TWO offices, and so he is only at the Calgary office three days a week every other week, which makes appointments tricky.

I try to make appointments so that my son doesn’t miss school, but that’s nearly impossible. Any school breaks, the office is inevitably closed, and if I ask for an appointment late in the day, the response is I can fit you in at 1:15, as if 1:15 is actually considered late in the day by anyone other than an orthodontist’s office. I get up at 4:30 every morning and even I do not consider 1:15 to be late in the day.

Well, as of the end of the month this will be all behind me. To be honest, until last week’s appointment I didn’t truly believe that the treatment is almost completed. I expected to be disappointed once again, so when my son came into the waiting room and said they made molds for his lower teeth, I was actually pleasantly surprised.

Keep the expectation bar low, I guess is the lesson here.

Mother Of The Year

A local liquor store still sends out paper flyers and I was excited to see a wine that I really like on sale for $10 off per bottle. After last week’s orthodontic appointment, I looked at the strapping young man in the passenger seat and decided to seize the day. At $10 off per bottle, I wanted a case and I figured he could be my beast of burden, as it were.

Now, I don’t know if it’s a good idea to take your fifteen-year-old to the liquor store on a Thursday afternoon while you stock up on wine, but that’s exactly what I did. I waffled between it’s okay if a minor is in the store as long as he is accompanied by his mother and I am the literal worst. My son is tall, and anyone with eyes could tell that he isn’t eighteen, but with a MASK, well, who could say. I waited for someone to say something to me but no one did. I guess they aren’t too worried about kids walking around with a case of red wine, with their mothers directing them around.

Particularly when their mothers find a SNOOP DOGG wine and lose their minds.

It’s actually really good, you guys. Very delicious. Snoop Dogg always puts me in mind of my time on the trade floor, joking around with the guys I worked with. Snoop! Snoop-a-looooop! Bring your green hat, let’s go! A prize to the person who can identify that quote*.

*there is no actual prize, knowing the quote is the prize in itself

Outfit of the Week

I know what you’re going to say: two weeks in a row the OOTW features jeans and an actual bra? Okay, maybe you’re not going to say that. Maybe you’re wondering who cares what I’m wearing. I CARE, PEOPLE. I care.

This was my outfit for seeing the orthodontist, although I spent the entire appointment with my coat on, in the waiting room, far away from other people. I still felt good about myself in it. It was a mild (winter) day so tall, warmish boots, jeans, a long-sleeved tee with some exposed skin (I mentioned it was mild) and the cardi my mom gave me for Christmas. Accessorized, of course, with my sparkly heart mask.

Pandemic Reading

This was probably the most interesting, well-written, and well-researched book I have read EVER IN MY LIFE. That is really saying something. As I read it, I kept thinking how long did this take to write? How long did this take to research? How is this man so witty? There is just so much information here, but it is all presented in a most accessible and witty way. I love the dry British humour and it is sprinkled everywhere. Every single body part and function is described with entertaining anecdotes and facts. If you are even slightly interested in anatomy, human biology, and medical sciences, I highly recommend this book.

What came to me as I read this was that all of our modern medical knowledge and advances originated with incredibly bizarre and possibly dangerous experiments. I lost count of the number of times the author would write without having any idea of the possible consequences and then describe something totally bonkers, like a researcher injecting half a pint of sheep’s blood into a volunteer, or the guy who put a thermometer up his rectum and a tube into his stomach and poured ice water down the tube to see how low his temperature could go. The latter, by the way, was instrumental in determining how cold we can take the body for open-heart surgery.

In an attempt to learn how, exactly, the circulatory system works, a German doctor inserted a catheter into an artery in his arm, threaded it through his body until he reached the heart, at which point he was excited to find out that he did not die. Then he walked over to the x-ray department to prove what he had done. This was an incredible discovery but sadly, that doctor was also an early supporter of the Nazis and, well.

It was incredibly upsetting and unsettling to discover that much of our medical knowledge today came from horrific experiments done by the Germans and the Japanese during World War II.

Let me tell you, after reading about women’s health and the treatments for breast cancer, I am thrilled to be living in the modern age.


Someone recommended this to me – who was it? – and I duly put it on my hold list at the library without actually looking at what it was about. When it came in I felt disheartened for two reasons: a) it is huge, and b) the synopsis seemed incredibly dull. I took a deep breath and opened it – and it grabbed me right from the first sentence. This is not a particularly original story – an Irish child born out of wedlock is given up for adoption, struggles all his life with his homosexuality, eventually finds identity, family, and love – but it is so well-written, with heart and humour. It is also incredibly distressing to read about the absolutely brutal treatment of the homosexual community, particularly with regards to the AIDS crisis, over the last eighty years or so. Again, so glad to be living in the modern age. Yes, there is still room for improvement but we have come so far, thank god.

Continuing my Judy Blume rereads! Forever is such a great portrayal of a first love/ sexual experience, it’s so real. It’s Not The End Of The World – a good book about divorce that Blume wrote when her own marriage was in trouble.

Happy March, everyone! So far it’s come in like a lamb – may it stay that way! xo


  1. Noah got his braces in 7th grade (seven years ago) and North got their first round like two days after his one and only round came off. We did have a break between North’s first and second round when no one had braces. It might have been a year or so. I’m not sure how far we are from the end. Beth’s the orthodontia mom.

  2. Oh- I think the quote is from Old School. Will Ferrell on the stage encouraging everyone to go streaking. ‘Bring your green hat.’ Am I right? If I am, this might make my day.

    Ed is 20. He used to suck his food, rather than chew it. It almost drove me batty because it would take him so long to eat. I pointed it out to the dentist. Um, Ed’s teeth didn’t touch enough – like they weren’t in line. He got some apparatus on his teeth – can’t think of the name, but it had a mask that hooked on at night with rubber bands when he was 3. That’s right . . . 3! He drooled at night and his chin would be raw in the morning from the drool collecting in the mask under his little chin. I put butt cream on it for severe diaper rashes to protect it. I don’t think I have had much of a significant break from the ortho since then. My kids have all needed braces. Mini twice. Reg just started. Curly goes in a couple of weeks to find out when she starts. Prior to braces they’ve all had masks and things to prepare for braces. The staff know me well. Even if I put on a cute outfit, no one is allowed in the waiting room currently except the patient. I wait in the car. Oh, Tank’s permanent retainer inside his lower teeth just broke last week and he went in for an emergency appointment and got it replaced for $125. I consider myself saluted. 😉

    I got a good chuckle out of your wine buying with your son there to carry your selection.

    That book about the body sounds super interesting. I wonder if I can read it without feeling faint.

    • You win! It is from Old School!!! You win the non-existent prize 🙂

      Good grief, it’s good that you won the non-existent prize because that is A LOT of orthodontia. Poor little Ed. Six kids in braces, you get not only a salute but a Salute!

  3. Favorite parts: “we were lucky to get into his current, non-criminal orthodontist”

    “*there is no actual prize, knowing the quote is the prize in itself”

    I added The Body immediately to my TBR. Have you read any of the books by Mary Roach? Stiff, Gulp, Bonk… there’s one about Mars, I think. Anyway, if not, I recommend them. I find her writing to be hilarious and detailed and fascinating.

  4. Pat Birnie says

    It was me that recommended ‘The Heart’s Invisible Furies’. I’m glad you got over the shock of how huge it is and sounds like you enjoyed it (sort of?). I loved the book, found it so funny and heartbreaking at the same time. I’ve since read and enjoyed all of John Boyne’s books. I have already put the Bill Bryson book on hold – I love anatomy and the study of the body as well as Bill Bryson so I’m sure I’ll enjoy this one. How can a wine be $10 off? It must be pretty pricey to begin with! In good ole Ontario we are lucky to get a $2 discount! so jealous!

    • It was you! I did enjoy it, very much. The “search for identity” description on the book cover did not in any way convey how excellent the book was. So thank you for the recommendation. Did you read The Boy In The Striped Pajamas? I’m wondering if I should put it on hold. Hope you enjoy The Body. The wine was originally $22.99 on sale for $12.99!

      • Pat Birnie says

        I did read The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and also enjoyed it. It’s a YA book, well written, sad, a little disturbing, but very good. It amazes me how an author can write so well from a child’s perspective. I’d recommend it (& it’s much smaller than Hearts Furies! WOW that is a wine discount. I would have bought as many cases as I could afford and store!

  5. Kara Keenan says

    I feel this, but I also have you beat! I’m on child 3 (all girls) who’s in braces, all in a row. I’m going on 7 years (in April) with at least one kid in orthodontics. Last week, my kids needed 11 fillings, between two of them. The oldest needed five, the middle needed six. Of course that couldn’t be done on the day of their cleanings, nor could all fillings in each kid be done at the same time (“It’s against our policy to do fillings on both sides of the mouth in the same appointment.”), so I spent 6 hours at the dentist last week.

  6. Ortho alumni here. My own, not (yet) my kid’s…my before and after mugshots were taken for a textbook, so I should’ve had a “I survived ortho” tshirt!! Your son’s could, too.
    I enjoy Bryson, but will the book make me faint and remind me of all the gruesome stories my mom’s nursing buds would recount over dinner like they were talking about the weather!? Wuss moi!!

    • Wow, seriously!! That’s really interesting, Julie! Um, it MIGHT make you faint. Definitely descriptions of some of the procedures might make you feel unwell. I feel a bit dizzy when I think of the masectomy description.

  7. I like your outfit of the day…as well as the coordinating mask!

    How did I not know about the criminal orthodontist? I thought I’d been following you for quite some time, but don’t remember that…

  8. I was like “omg, I read a book about scientists doing weird shit to themselves and going blind for a few weeks or losing sensation in their arms too! It was… what was it…. it was A Short History of Nearly Everything by… Bill Bryson”. I think Guns Germs and Steel is still my favourite book of that type.
    I was massively relieved and happy when Eve got her braces off and we were done and yet kind of sad and feeling like we’d left their childhood behind, because I am weird like that. Our orthodontist could not have been lovelier, which from what I’ve heard is very much the exception – mine was a grim old bastard, and hearing about yours makes me stabby – yeah, thanks, your availability every second wednesday when there’s a full moon is super helpful. “I get up at 4:30 and even I don’t consider 1:15 late in the day” made me lol.

    • Angela Kelley says

      I really enjoyed Mr. Bryson’s “A Short History…” I highly recommend. And I just requested “The Body” from our local library, thanks for the recommendation, Nicole!

  9. I’m going to say this, but I’m sure you’ve already threatened your sons with their lives: Don’t forget to wear your retainers! Or else, you might have to start over. I know this from experience.

    There is nothing about Snoop Dog that I don’t enjoy and I had no idea he had a wine.

    The anatomy book sounds interesting but also I might have nightmares. Scary how people ‘tried’ things and of course it’s horrendous when those things were done to NON willing participants.

    • Yup, my time in braces was a total waste (at least it wasn’t a waste of my parents’ money, I think, although a waste of the NHS’s resources certainly) because as soon as I got to the “horrible plastic retainers at night” stage, I stopped wearing them completely and my teeth are now back to being exactly how they were before orthodontia, with the added bonus of me being an adult and therefore not eligible for free treatment any more. I suspect Teen Me would still not have worn the retainers even if Adult Me had gone back in time to warn her, but still. If my parents had insisted, I might have better teeth now.

      • Thankfully my older son has been great with his retainer, hopefully my younger one will be too. Their old karate teacher had braces THREE TIMES because she did not wear her retainer; I think that anecdote was enough to convince them!

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