(a sister's touch makes everything better)so, over a month ago now, ashlyn started the process of getting her appliances put in and bracket cemented on her teeth. i'm not gonna lie, we thought this day would never come since she had so many other hurdles to jump through to get to this point (the wait is only downfall of having ortho done at a teaching hospital).
getting braces can be so very overwhelming even for kids without sensory issues, so it was no surprise that we would run into some challenges with our sensory-sensitive child.
i felt like the day would never come that we'd finally be at this stage, since we started the process of getting to this point almost a full year ago with a few dental appointments to correct some minor dental issues first, then did impressions, then we waited about three months for them to come up with a plan. you can read those back-stories here and here, if you're bored out of your mind.
around the first week of march she got her palatal expander and lower lingual holding arch cemented in place, but they didn't activate the expander that day. they wanted to give her a week to get used to the appliance being in her mouth.
never seen a palatal expander? it's quite an intrusive piece of metal taking up, oh, about 1/2 of the space in the roof of your mouth. well, let us just show you.
looks so barbaric, yes? i'm telling you what.......the first week, the week we referred to as "hell week" was rough. i'm told it's rough for even for kiddos that don't have sensory issues. every single thing she tried to eat, even mashed potatoes, would get stuck. then she'd panic. then she'd cry. then she'd refuse to eat. every single meal, every single day, until we went back the following week. she lost weight, her sensory issues magnified, it was awful.
her nightly pills got stuck. her chemo pills got stuck. it was a hot mess.
the only thing she looked forward to was eating a giant bowl of chocolate icecream every single night. and taking crushed pills instead of whole.
we went back to the ortho one week after it being cemented in and spent the entire hour appointment trying to discuss how to help her not give up, and trying to convince her that it would just take time. so instead of activating the expander after one week, they gave her christmas tree brushes to push out stuck food, they gave her tips on clucking her tongue against the roof of her mouth to release the suction, and they convinced her to keep it in one more week without any activation and think about it for another week.
we left that appointment with only a twinge of hope and still full of stress from dealing with so many meltdowns the week prior.
but........i'm here to tell all you mom's out there going through this (sensory kiddos or not), that if you can just make it to day 10, you'll round the corner and every little thing will be okay.
the second week she added waffles to her icecream only diet and became even more obsessed with eating waffles than she was with eating the chocolate icecream. i'm telling you, my husband and i have made more waffles in the last month than we have our entire marriage.
waffles for breakfast, waffles for dinner, waffles for snack. i'm so sick of smelling waffles, LOL.
so we went back the next week and she was a completely different kid. while the sensory/anxiety stuff didn't completely disappear, i could tell she was finding her own way to deal with this new normal.
week 2 they began cementing brackets on and adding the wires & bands onto her upper teeth and then she was all smiles. she chose purple and green bands to represent, get this......the Incredible Hulk. LOL.
and then, we started turning the key. every morning and every night. i was most nervous about this stage of the game because with each turn of the key her jaw was being forced to expand causing lots of pressure in her cheekbones, sinuses, etc. she was nervous about this part too because of all the conversations with the orthodontist, all she remembered was them telling her it was going to hurt.
but, then.......dr. stephenie made her day and told her she could chew gum! and if you thought she was obsessed with gum chewing before, you should see her now. oh.my.word. never without gum.
AND........i'm SO very thankful to say that we only had a few days of her asking for pain medication and never once did i have to pull teeth to get her to cooperate with this key turning thing. seriously, God is so good to me! because after the last 6 months of stress that i've been through with lots of stuff i haven't yet blogged about, i needed a break.
every time i turned that key with her full compliance i felt like God was giving me a big 'ole hug and whispering in my ear "every little thing is gonna be alright."
and, somewhere in that week she learned she could eat nacho chips with beef and cheese on them. that realization allowed her to brave adding other favorite foods back in. and while they still get stuck, the anxiety over it isn't really there anymore. girlfriend figured it out on her own.
and our whole family breathed a deep sigh of relief that she was pleasant to be around again.
so after just a few days of turning that expander key, you start to see the magic happen. that gap you see in the picture up there--it appeared, like, overnight. mind boggling.
each morning, and each night, we continued turning the key, until 2 weeks later and it looked like this...
we were initially told that they would expand her jaw for 3 months. yes 3 solid months of turning that key every morning and every night. how big was this gap gonna get!? could you imagine?
but, after two weeks they were so impressed with how well her body is responding that they told us just one.more.week.
so the gap is slightly larger than you see in that picture, but after just three weeks of consistently turning the key and only missing ONE morning (go ME for consistency!), we were told she could stop turning the key and now we just hold the expander for 3 months.
and we can graduate from weekly visits to once every 4 weeks. hallelujah! (it's not typical that frequent, but her sensory issues were a game-changer)
BUT, next visit, they will start closing the gap already and keep the expander in so it doesn't collapse. what's happened is they've opened up (basically broken) the upper palette and new bone will fill in the space they've created.
the body is an amazing machine, isn't it?
any other moms out there going through misery with ortho right now? (((HUGE HUGS))) to you...and sending an extra dose of patience your way. :)