January 24th, 2006

68 weeks down, one to go / goals I'm not setting

Today (Tuesday) marks the beginning of my 69th week wearing braces, and also my last, hopefully ever. Next Tuesday I'm scheduled to have the braces removed and get my retainer(s). This is quite a relief, as I finally started losing patience with the braces at the beginning of December, when I'd already been wearing them two months longer than the original estimate of a year.

Of course, that just marks the end of the preliminary phase of my treatment. I still have to get the bone graft and implants done so I can get the permanent replacement false teeth, which is the point of all this work. I met with the oral surgeon again a couple weeks ago, and I'm supposed to have another meeting with a specialist at his office (I forget whether she specializes in bone grafts or implants, maybe both). They're now planning to use a bone donor rather than taking bone out of my thigh, which should make things easier for me. Apparently, the body will replace donated bone with its own bone over time, without trying to reject it like for example a heart transplant, which is pretty neat. The surgeon said I'd need a few months to heal and have the bone set properly, so the work won't be done until late summer, it looks like. The actual surgery isn't scheduled yet, so I don't know for sure when things are happening. For that matter, they haven't yet verified whether they're doing the work in-house, which affects how much insurance will cover, so I don't know for sure whether I'll have to pay anything or whether it'll be affordable.

One of my incomplete goals for 2005 was to finish the braces and rest of the dental work. I decided not to include that as a goal for 2006, because it's not something I have to choose to do; it's merely completing an ongoing process, and not something I could somehow fail. It shouldn't really have been a "goal" for 2005 in the first place. Granted, it's possible funding issues might come up, but as I currently understand it, insurance should cover at least 90% and I think it's inexpensive enough that the remaining 10% would be in the few hundred dollar range. It seems that at worst I'd just have to delay it a few months.

Another goal I left out was making another visit to Las Vegas. I've been three times now: once in 2000 as a stopping point during parkbenchzine's cross-country moving-to-LA trip; a second time in 2000, as a long weekend gathering of a few friends including parkbenchzine; and a third time in 2003, with John and Scott D and another couple friends, for a weekend of fun in connection with the wedding of one of John's friends. I'd like to make another visit, and I've been joking that I've started a tradition of going every three years, which would mean I'd have to go this year. However, I decided making it a goal would seriously conflict with goal #5, reduce my credit card debt. If I somehow manage to make a substantial reduction of that debt in the next several months, it's not completely out of the question that a trip could happen in, say, September, but at the moment it seems unlikely.

Along those lines, I also did not include "buy decent speakers for my Mac," let alone "buy a new laptop," which is something I've been thinking about for a couple years now. Again, there'll have to be a serious turnaround in my finances for that to become feasible this year. Of course, my Mac will be five years old in February, so it's possible serious issues might start cropping up, but at this point I have to take the same attitude I have toward my car: it works well enough, I don't have a pressing need for a new one, and I just really hope I don't have to replace it soon because I can't really afford to and I won't do without. At least in the case of my Mac, I could afford to get a Mac Mini if I had to, but I'd rather hold out for affording a new Intel-based MacBook Pro.

Yet another goal I didn't include was "shift my personal schedule back and establish a habit of getting up at 8 AM." However, I am indeed trying to do just that, particularly as I'm soon going to have to be in at 9 AM for daily meetings, which means getting up even earlier than 8. And that means it's past my bedtime, so off I go.