Unceremonious Graduation from Torture


I woke up last Saturday not knowing that it would be my Freedom Day. That after several years of enduring braces on my teeth, my orthodontist was finally going to take them off.

I wish I had known beforehand. I would have prepared a little ceremony. I would have asked my parents to accompany me. I would have arranged for my friends to meet us after, so we could all have a nice lovely lunch.

Instead, it happened this way. When I got home on Friday night, Mama told me that my dentist’s secretary called and informed her that the Doc wanted to see me on Saturday, and that I had to confirm anytime during the night. It was very important, the secretary said. Mama wondered what that was all about.

I explained to her that during my last few visits, I had strongly hinted that I was going to get myself featured in a dental magazine as the Person Who Had Braces on the Longest. The secretary begged me not to do it, as she said nobody would come to their clinic anymore. I said I was giving them (the dental team) an ultimatum. They had to take the braces off as they were preventing me from migrating abroad, getting married… basically getting a life.

I was using humor as usual to hide what to me was a source of frustration and irritation. I could have gone lawyerly and just filed a lawsuit for them to do their job properly and get my teeth fixed, pronto. They promised it would only take two years. Sure, I had missed out on a few appointments, but that started when I was already tired of those wires and bands that were residing in my mouth.

During my last visit, another dentist from the same team saw me. I had gone on a Friday, after several years of going on Saturdays, that’s why I chanced upon her. She was mildly shocked to see that I still had braces on, and that my stubborn teeth still had not moved closer together.

My theory is that doctora talked to The Doctor, and informed him of my threat of a Dental Magazine Expose.

I had a full schedule last Saturday, with errands, chores, and meetings, but I squeezed in ten minutes to see my ortho. Little did I know that I was going to stay there for more than an hour, miss my movie date with my parents, and be poorer by a couple of thousand bucks.

He told me that he discussed my case with his team and they had decided to do recontouring, so that we all didn’t have to wait anymore for the day when my teeth would finally obey the braces. I endured an hour of pushing and pulling, with my dentist working his magic, as if I had lost all my teeth on some accident and he was giving me an appearance of a perfect smile. He took a before-and-after photo. He took the darn braces off. I had to raise my hand to get gargle breaks during the procedure, as I had not eaten lunch (this was an unplanned procedure) and some acid from my stomach got caught up in my throat.

Afterwards, he told me, “Congratulations. This is your graduation day. No more braces.”

I went home dazed. Magazine popularity? Gone. Possible lawsuit? Prevented (at least for now. Hehe). Pearly white smile? Here I come.

That night, while eating Mango Bravo at Conti’s, I gave my friend K a bright smile, hoping she would notice. She asked if I meant she had chocolate on her teeth. I said no and kept my toothy smile. She said, “No Ella you don’t have chocolate on your teeth.” Our other friends who knew about my recent graduation from torture laughed and told her what I was smiling about. They found out about it on Facebook. My nephews immediately noticed when they came to visit the next day. Kids just pay more attention, sometimes.

If only all my braces would come off. Then I would have every reason to smile more.

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