Play Ball

March 15, 2018
After a two year hiatus I finally made it back to Phoenix for Spring Training. I love going to the games, it is so laid back and intimate. Plus, the weather is typically gorgeous and it serves as a wonderful way to welcome spring. This year, though, we were met with rain and cooler temps. But, by the White Sox game on Sunday, it was warm and sunny - all was right in the world.

We saw three games in two days. We first caught the Rangers and A's game in Surprise on Saturday afternoon. We bought tickets shortly before the game. We sat in the corner along the third baseline. It offered a neat perspective. There was no one in front of us and I appreciated the lack of distractions. A few innings into the game, it started to sprinkle, much to the surprise to everyone including the weathermen - the sprinkle became a drizzle and turned into a full on shower and the rain fell until about 7:30pm; and then, scattered showers continued into the wee hours of the morning. I've never experienced weather in Phoenix, I come to expect warmth and sunshine. I was a little stunned to see it so wet and dreary.

We grabbed an early dinner with friends at Little Sicily. The company and the pizza were a delight. We weren't sure if the rain was going to let up for the evening game at Camelback Ranch; our friend was able to get us prime seats for Dodgers vs. the Cubs so we remained hopeful it would clear up. At game time, it was still wet, but thankfully, the rain stopped shortly after we found our seats. Which were amazing! I have never sat directly behind home plate before so it was a treat. There was no question whether pitches were balls or strikes. It was my first Cubs game. I've only ever seen them play the White Sox in the crosstown series previously. With Arrieta gone, and Kris Bryant not in attendance there was no eye candy to distract me. I was happy to root for the Dodgers, and even more thrilled when they won.

Sunday, we made a stop at Rudy's Bar-B-Que. Yes, that tasty chain from Texas. We had the sausage, moist brisket and smoked turkey. It was the real deal. Oh, man. So good! It's nice to know we can get a fix within a few hours drive of home.

The White Sox won against the Diamondbacks. We had awesome seats again, this time, third row just to the left of the Sox dugout. It's been so long since I've seen White Sox baseball, only one player remains on the team that I have seen play before, Jose Abreau. They looked great out there. So good, in fact, I think it was the first win we witnessed in Spring Training since we started going ten years ago.

Until next time! Go Sox!

Game Day Ready

March 14, 2018

Bags are Packed...

March 8, 2018
And my teeth are on the move! It's rather impressive how much movement I have experienced in two months time. Besides the gap that continues to grow larger, I have more space between the rest of my upper teeth. Flossing has never been easier. My two front teeth no longer tilt inward. Last month, I started adjusting all three screws in my appliance. Encouraging movement in multiple directions is definitely more uncomfortable, but the tenderness and headache usually only last a day or two.

Eating is only a problem after my weekly adjustments. Once the discomfort fades I can eat without much trouble. Greens still give me trouble and I haven't had steak or anything tough. I try to keep my carbohydrate intake at a minimum, but rice and potatoes remain a large part of my diet. Despite that, I'm losing weight so I'll take it. More recently I've noticed that as my upper jaw expands I'm having more trouble biting into things since my lower jaw sits so far back and under; it's a struggle to have the teeth meet. My next in office adjustment is next week so I'm anxious to learn how much longer I'll have that obstacle. I fear it will be quite sometime, since I was told I'd wear this appliance for six months. I'm hopeful for less time, however.

After being sick all of January, I felt better for a couple days and then my sickness returned with a vengeance. The flu was going around like something fierce so I wanted to stay out of the quick care clinics, I opted for another virtual visit. This time, I was given antibiotics. I didn't start feeling better until day 7 after starting the Zpack. I was sick for six weeks. I still have post nasal drip and a cough that lingers. I don't know if it's allergies, now, or what. In any case, I am very much looking forward to feeling well again.

A Year Ago: No Team or Coach. Today: Top of the Pacific Division

February 21, 2018

The Sweetest Valentines

February 14, 2018

Superb Owl

February 2, 2018
How is it that we are already in the second month of 2018?! Madness, I tell you. I don't mind that we are whipping through winter. I heard the ground hog calls for six more weeks... no bueno. We've been lucky in my neck of the woods. It hasn't been too cold and the chill seems to be in the past. Temps have already been reaching the 70's and more of the same is in the forecast. At this rate, we might be in the pool before St. Patrick's Day this year. Frank has already drained it and changed all the filters so it's ready to go. Addison has a new swim suit so she's ready too. Lex, man, I'm not sure I'm ready for her in the pool. She has no fear and she was such a dare devil last summer. Cue my anxiety. That girl just turned two! She is a force to be reckoned with, she'll definitely give us a run for our money.

Sunday is the Big Game or the Superb Owl. We don't want to call it what it actually is, we don't want to infuriate the NFL. I haven't a care who wins the battle for the ball this Sunday. I'm more looking forward to brunching with the Golden Knights. I hear the puck drops at 9:30AM PST at the Washington Capitals. I'll be tuning in for that. There may be a bloody mary or two consumed. Those guys have been such fun to watch this season. Back in November, we picked up a second set of season tickets in the lower bowl. We'll be renewing both sets for next season. We just can't get enough.

We'll also be supporting the Las Vegas Lights. Frank picked up two season tickets at Cashman Field. I know next to nothing about Soccer, but I quickly adapted to hockey. So, I look forward to learning to be a fan.

Usually, Frank and I are counting down the hours to vacation about now. We have made it routine to escape the city immediately following football's favorite Sunday. This year, though, we're staying put. We'll be getting flooring instead. We have needed to replace the carpet and sheet vinyl in the kitchen, utility and bathrooms since we moved in. We've been round and round trying to determine what material and where? It's a large project over 1100 square feet. So, there was also the time component. We had my dad babysit the painters last year, and intended to have him do the same for the floors, but life had other plans. We were fortunate that our newly retired friends volunteered to house sit for us. Once they had availability we went into action to get the floors selected and scheduled. We are going with plank tiles that look like wood. I like the warmth wood provides, but it's not practical in the areas we are flooring. All the rooms are exposed to water whether it's from wet feet from the pool, rogue ice cubes, shower spray or the washer hose corroding and creating our very own water feature in our upstairs laundry room. The 10 foot spray quickly filled the room with inches of water and rapidly created a sprinkler in the utility room ceiling light fixture directly beneath it. Causing not one, but two rooms to flood. That was a real joy, last spring.

We also considered installing luxury vinyl, but it was cheaper to go with the tile. I debated selecting a different tile for the bathrooms, but ultimately the transitions felt like they'd be weird in multiple areas, so we decided to go with one look throughout. It will be cohesive and clean. Plus, it's more budget friendly.

When we first moved into the house, I swore the first project would be our bathroom since it's carpeted. Ugh. I hate it. I really don't know how I've tolerated it this long. Carpet just does not belong in the bathroom. I don't know if I'm more excited that we'll finally be rid of it there or in the kitchen/living area. The carpet transitions to the sheet vinyl right along the island. This is the heaviest traffic area in the house and it shows on the carpet. It's been worn thin for more than a year. If you choose your steps poorly you land on the tack strip and little pricks sting your feet. It's unpleasant and a real nuisance.

To say, I'm excited about the floors is major understatement. I don't mind a bit that I'll be clearing rooms rather than rooting on the Eagles or the Patriots. With any luck, I'll have extra pep in my step from another Vegas Knights Victory.

January Fog

January 29, 2018
"You're boring! Completely and utterly boring!" That's what the doctor had to say when I saw him more than two weeks ago. My labs were perfect, my knee xray was unremarkable and my ears were clear as can be. He suggested I try a decongestant to resolve the crackle I described in my ears. I've never been so disappointed to have a clean bill of health. If I'm perfectly healthy, then, why do I feel so shitty?!

I popped Advil Cold and Sinus the whole weekend, the crackle improved, but the pressure was unbearable. The following Tuesday, I went in to see the TMJ dentist. I supplied him with my laundry list of complaints and he adjusted the appliance, applied some suture release techniques, and suggested a nightly dose of Vitamin C. It didn't provide much relief, but the adjustment stopped me from biting my tongue so that ulcer has been able to heal. The following day, I felt like I busted my face - like my skull had fractured. I was miserable. Later that night, I teared up watching "600 LB Life" and then my nose started to drip.

Thursday, I was so congested, I felt I was underwater. I went into work, only to be sent home. That afternoon and the next four days are a blur. I rotated between the recliner and spare bed propped up on half a dozen pillows. I wanted to keep the sickness out of my chest. I tried all sorts of OTC medicine and finally (last) Monday, I threw in the towel and wanted to see a doctor. The local quick care clinic had a wait of 90 minutes, while on their site I noticed an ad for the NOW Clinic which touted no waiting via virtual appointment. It sounded good to me! No leaving the house, no wait, no exposure to an even worse virus or the flu. Sign me up! Of course, the registration was flawed. I couldn't create an account because it claimed one existed, when I tried to resend the username/password it said the account didn't exist. I called the number and held for 33 minutes. A gentlemen solved the problem and kindly waited on the line until I was able to successfully login. Then, $10 and 8 minutes later I was connected with a doctor in Florida. We Skype, I tell him I'm convinced that my cold has turned into a sinus infection, but he insisted I have the virus that everyone is getting coast to coast. He asked who at work or at home is sick? A few coworkers caught cold over Christmas and New Years break, but that's about it. Maybe I picked it up at the doctors office on the 12th? Who knows? I just want to feel better. No antibiotics, but he'll call in some RXs stronger than my OTC medicines. I sent Frank to the pharmacy to pick up my prescriptions, he came back with the same strength decongestant I was taking, 600 mg of Ibuprofen and Promethazine. That was a week ago. I felt like crap through the weekend, but I never had a fever or shortness of breath so I guess I was fine. It's perfectly normal to sleep for hours on end. Yesterday, I finally got color back, and today, I finally feel relief from congestion. A tickle remains in my throat and my ears feel full, but I can breathe. Thank goodness.

I'm a week shy of a month wearing the appliance. I'm still not a fan, but I guess I've acclimated to it. I can eat more foods, but my diet is very heavy on carbs. I really miss greens. I still plan my meals around brushings. So, snacking is definitely a thing of the past. You want to lose weight? Start brushing & flossing after everything you chew. You'll quickly find what a nuisance it is. Between brushing and being sick, I don't think my lips will ever be soft again, but I'm continuously applying chapstick to keep the cracks from bleeding. On day 17, I noticed the first visible change, a space began to form between my two front teeth. I suppose that means it's working.

8 Days In

January 11, 2018
Last Wednesday evening, I stood in front of my bathroom sink for nearly an hour... Just to practice spitting. Gross, right? Thankfully, I've since gotten my saliva somewhat under control. I'm no longer gagging or insistent that I'll drown in my own spit, but there is still an abundance. I have a sore throat, clogged ears and sinus pressure. Sounds like a cold, right? But I'm not sick. I'm beginning to wonder if some of the achiness I feel is from my salivary glands working overtime? Maybe creating post nasal drip or something. The first couple days I had brutal acid reflux like I used to get before my allergy shots.

I go to the doctor tomorrow with any luck he'll provide me a better understanding of what's going on. I've never been so excited to go, I want my ears examined so badly. There is so much pressure, sensitivity, clicking, crackle and echo - I'm so over it. They haven't felt this bad since I had an ear infection two years ago. I'm actually hoping that there is an infection and all it will take is a round of antibiotics to begin feeling better. It definitely sounds like a better alternative than the source of the discomfort being this appliance or the latest TMD symptom.

Fortunately, my speech improved fairly quickly. I could barely form words without gagging the first day. By the third, I could say most words. It just sounds like I'm chewing gum or sucking on a cough drop. Though, some words do trip me up and a lisp is occasionally clear. I practiced by speaking aloud, reading anything in sight. I have to speak slower and enunciate more, but there is no more gagging - thank goodness. My jaw just grows tired and saliva increases the more I talk. ...The more my throat hurts. I'm sure you can recognize the cycle. Anything with carbonation is somewhat soothing. Needless to say, my diet coke habit has doubled or even tripled.

My teeth brushing, flossing and cleaning of the appliance routine is down to ten minutes from thirty. I've eaten a few things of substance like a burger from Freddy's and a grilled cheese. I tire easily and it takes me a long time and I rarely finish anything, but I can chew... sorta. I can eat soft noodles, I made chili thinking I could manage, but the chunks of tomato were too hard to chew. I pureed it and doing so provided great relief. The meal was no longer a chore. My hands and lips are dry as can be from (toothpaste) brushing 3x/day. I no longer snack and I drink protein for breakfast to save me one brushing. I've developed an ulcer on the right side of my tongue. It doesn't feel like there is enough room for it and this appliance in my mouth. I wanted to wait for the first adjustment to see if it helped the positioning. So far, today, it is better. But it didn't develop until the forth day or so, so I'm not confident that the problem is corrected. I fear once it settles in, it will bother me again.

By settling in, I mean that when I first got the appliance it didn't seem to really fit. Pressure on my teeth was more intense and there was a large gap between the roof of my mouth and the appliance. As the week went on, the gap got smaller. The more snug it got less food was captured, my speech was better and my muscles relaxed a bit. I was feeling pretty confident yesterday. My discomfort was easing up, chewing wasn't quite as hard and my speech felt almost normal. I wasn't popping ibuprofen every four hours. Then, it was time for the first adjustment. One crank of the key and I was back to feeling like I did last week. Everything was harder again. I'm so tired today as a result. I'm afraid this will be the drill over the next 6 months. Which if that's all it would take, I could cope a bit easier. But I have an incredibly long road ahead of me. When I outgrow this appliance then, it's on to the next which is sure to have its own set of aches, pains and learning curves.

Oh my goodness! Sneezing is the worst. I was a violent sneezer as it was, but now it's companied by the worst spray because I cannot close my mouth. It is the most awkward feeling. Let's pray I don't catch a cold.

The tension in my neck is considerably higher than it used to be. At first, I thought it was a good sign maybe I was using muscle that's been ignored for too long. Like the day or two following a good work out. No pain, no gain. But it's so stiff and it won't let up. The tension just builds. I sought out an osteopath hoping they can help. Of course, only one in the valley takes my insurance so my appointment is two months out. I pray I find relief much sooner than that, but at least its on the calendar just in case.

It's not all bad, though, otherwise, I'd probably throw in the towel. The left TMJ joint does feel a bit more relaxed in the morning. Also, I kissed Frank last night and my jaw didn't lock or pop. So, there are a couple victories to counter all my other defeats.

To Do List

January 10, 2018

And So it Begins

January 4, 2018
As I previously mentioned, some big changes are in store this year. The first of which has begun. I'm embarking on what's to be expected as a two year (maybe three) journey to correct my bite and provide relief and (hopefully) repair my temporomandibular joint. About seven years now, I've had TMD symptoms, but the severity has worsened in recent years. It's become a daily burden. Back in August, my symptoms became pretty severe hindering every day activities like chewing, yawning, kissing, etc. No matter what I tried to ease the discomfort, nothing provided relief. I was referred to a TMJ Specialist. I underwent a series of exams, tests and imaging. My issues were clear from the very first panoramic xray and everything else supported the diagnoses. First, I have a Class II Division 2 Malocclusion. My overbite is so bad, my upper teeth completely cover those on the bottom. I've chipped a tooth and the one next to it has become loose. My lower jaw has receded over the years. I also have significant damage to the left TMJ joint and both joints show signs of arthritis. The left disc is displaced and the condyle which is the bone that fits into the joint has been worn flat. Normally, these are rounded. When my jaw opens and closes it shifts to the side sort of like a misaligned jewelry box. This causes pain in the joint, ear, tension in the neck and shoulders and headaches. I have bone deposits on my skull from the tension - the muscle on the right side of neck is tight like a banjo. No amount of manipulation releases it. It is literally a constant pain in the neck.

My treatment plan includes multiple appliances over the course of a year (or two) followed by another year in wire braces. Or in other words, I'm on my way to gilding yet another joint in gold. Yesterday, I received my first expansion appliance. This is a custom fit, with three sets of screws. I will turn only one for now once per week. This will push my two front teeth outward. Down the road, I'll start adjusting the other two which will expand/grow the roof of my mouth. Which is much too narrow. Once the expansion takes place, I'll transition to a twin block which will encourage forward growth of the lower jaw, and finally the braces will align everything as it should be. Correcting the bite will allow the joint to sit in the proper position which should promote healing. I'm told I should feel relief from TMD symptoms shortly because it will be under less stress.

I'm only a day in, but right now, it seems unfathomable that it will feel comfortable to have equipment in my mouth 24/7. The only saving grace is that the appliance is removable. If it were fixed, it'd be a deal breaker. I'd have countless panic attacks if that were the case. I'm only to remove the appliance for cleaning when brushing my teeth. Currently, I have an abundance of saliva. I'm told this will improve. It is difficult to swallow and a challenge to speak. I keep practicing so I'm hopeful for a quick adjustment. Eating is the most difficult task. Only my front teeth feel free so little bites are all I can handle. But, I can't really push food again the roof of my mouth. It just gets stuck around the appliance. It feels awful and it is utterly disgusting how much gets caught up in the crevices and around the screws. There will be a large learning curve.

Fortunately, sleep came easier than I expected. I thought for sure I'd drown from the amount of saliva and inability to fully clear it. But there was no gagging - so some of my troubles are more anxiety driven. Usually, I wake with a sore jaw and teeth. This morning my jaw felt more relaxed which was nice. However, I have a weird sensation in my ears. They were clicking like mad this morning, but it's improved throughout the day. My nose, upper lip have felt tingly and today I feel a lot of pressure behind my front left tooth. The tension in my neck feels higher today than usual and a headache set in last night and hasn't let up. Below you can see how differently my mouth closes in a resting position. I have sensitivity on the left lower molar that's new. Hopefully, it is only temporary.

Thoughts for the New Year

January 3, 2018

Another One Bites the Dust

January 2, 2018
I'm not sure how it's possible, but 2018 is here! It seems like only yesterday the world was a buzz for Y2K. Yet, kids born in 2000 will turn 18 this year. Freaky.

Earthquakes, hurricanes, fires and floods, and most recently bitter cold. It is safe to say 2017 was rough! It was tough on Las Vegas with the 1 October shooting. Losing my dad so suddenly was hard on me. I'm sure I'm not alone in wishing good riddance to 2017. Thankfully, I had just enough grit to see me through.

Even in the most shitastic years there are plenty of beautiful moments and treasured memories. I try to focus on the good, rather than dwell on the heart ache. Even if challenges outweighed my triumphs I'm extremely fortunate to have my home, my health and my core. Frank, Mike and Amy and the kids make me whole. To see them thrive and grow make all the difference in my world.

It felt like I longed for trips on the calendar. The end of the year felt like a real drought, but we snuck in a few trips. Overall, we traveled far more than I had realized, with trips to San Felipe, San Diego, Cancun (Tulum, Mahahual, Xpu-ha, Akumal, and Playa del Carmen), Hualapai Mountain, Los Cabos (La Paz, Buena Vista, Los Barriles, La Ventana, El Sargento, Todos Santos, El Pescadero and Cerritos), San Diego (Tijuana), Chicago (Johnson's Beach, IN), Palm Springs, Chicago, Louisville (Frankfort) and finally San Francisco.

After 20 years together Frank and I found something new - Hockey. Watching the Vegas Golden Knights has been a wild ride. The city was ready for a professional sport and they came when the community needed it most. We've rallied and united. The games are electric. It's been great fun.

Dining has taken back seat, we're cooking more at home. But we still visited our favorites (Cleo, Joe's and Mariscos Playa Escondido) and found some new gems like Meraki and El Tamalucas.

In 2017 we got started with home improvements by painting and adding shutters. There will be more to come in 2018.

More importantly, we'll be improving ourselves.

The past few years have really taken a toll on me. I'm hopeful 2018 will be magical. If nothing else more kind. Unlike years past, I've chosen a word to kick off the new year because I know there are big changes on the horizon. Resilience. With any luck it will serve me well, and provide encouragement and inspiration as I navigate these 365 days of 2018.

And now, the notable of 2017 (local eats were lacking this year; so they've been excluded):

Biggest Regret - Letting my dad return home in July

Do More - That feeds my soul


Life Changing - Carne Asada Tacos, Tijuana

Best Eats - San Francisco it's such a melting pot; the best of every cuisine.


Most Disappointing - Baja Fish Tacos

San Felipe


Most Relaxing - Farewell tour of Al Cielo, Xpu-Ha


Best Song - Good Old Days, Macklemore and Kesha.

Best Album - Divide, Ed Sheeran

Best TV Show - The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Amazon

Best Concert - Rebelution at Mandalay Beach

Best Movie - Slim pickings. Pretty sure I saw three and not one wowed me.

Television Movie - The Wizard of Lies, HBO.

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