My new Invisalign aligners!

Imperial Dental

I wrote about having new aligners made last month and they’ve now arrived! It’s a set of 35 aligners which means it’ll take another 35 x 2 weeks for me to complete my journey to better teeth. That’s just about 1 1/2 years to go, which all things considered, isn’t very long. I have never really taken care of my teeth when I was younger. I knew I had crooked and slightly discolored teeth but I never did think of it as a “big deal”.

Imperial

I actually kinda liked the way my two teeth are kinda crooked, makes me look like a cute Dracula. Or so I thought. It’s actually quite invisible to the person but I noticed that one of the things that makes an impression when people smile is teeth. You notice if they have good teeth and you DEFINITELY remember if they have bad teeth. I didn’t realize that my teeth was marring my otherwise (relatively) perfect features. Haha.

Bluelight

This is something I’ve only noticed in the past few years, but one time I was watching crappy videos on YouTube, there was chain of comments which went along the lines of “Why didn’t the guy fix his teeth?”. The video was about a group of cannabis seed hunters from Amsterdam and the comments were directed at this Italian guy who was one of the main cultivators with the company that invented the White Widow strain.

New Aligners

I had noticed that his teeth was something horrible and the other viewers were going on about how he was a millionaire now and yet didn’t take enough pride in his appearance to do his teeth and that really resonated with me. I think I have decent features so why would I not take care more of something else that I had full control over and makes a big impression on others? I will, I’ll start taking care of my teeth.

Dr Salima

It can be a bit of a hassle to have Invisalign on all the time, but you get used to it. You can still take them out during meals and if anything, they’ve made me cut down on my snacks. It’s too much work to take out my aligners, eat a Mars bar, brush my teeth and put them back on so I go without the candy instead. I’m looking forward to having straighter teeth after a year or so and I’m glad I decided to take this journey with Imperial Dental.

Eat clen, tren hard and accept no subs

I haven’t updated my blog in a long time and I want to start off the cycle by writing about something I’ve always felt the need to hide. I’m not even sure why besides a vague sense of it being right, and I’ll explain that the best I can now. I have had problems with substance abuse in the past and I’ve let my misadventures with methamphetamine, heroin and other fun and interesting chemicals define me. I’m the guy who was all for “better living through chemistry” and I wasn’t afraid to say it out loud to everyone who wanted to hear (and the ones who didn’t as well).

However, as I have grown older, I found myself looking askance at people like that. Admittedly there aren’t many people like me, and even less who has built up such an impressive chemical resume as I have. But the ones who have told me straight out that they’re users, I find that I tend to judge them a little. Even though I used to in the past? Especially coz I used to. I knew what kind of deviant I was and I’ll have no part of that. Now that I’ve quit for so many years, I find myself wanting to dissociate myself with other drug users.

My point is, most people have something against substance users, no matter if it’s recreational or a dependency. It speaks volumes about your character that you’re not willing to make your personal life private and maybe that’s why I stopped divulging so much. It doesn’t matter if you pop MDMA once a year or you’re shooting up smack every morning and lunch in the toilet. People don’t need to know.

There is an odd comfort in being truthful though, as long as you’re not shoving your personal politics down people’s throats. I’ve stopped using all illegal drugs for many years. However, a lot of my legacy is still there. I’m still on buprenorphine (Suboxone) and benzodiazepines.

Suboxone

I’ll talk about Suboxone first. It’s a very, very expensive and legal opiate substitute that the government has been pushing for several years. Government? So it’s free then, you say? No, it’s not. It costs RM 40 per 8 mg tablet and I take 2 per day. I used to run up RM 80 daily, RM 2,480 per month, RM 29,200 annually. RM 30,000! 30 fucking k per year! It was ludicrous.

I got on Suboxone as a legal way to get off OxyContin in 2012. I had a HUGE oxycodone problem. I was a monster. I would take 280 mg per day. That’s 14 tablets (one blister pack) of 20 mg OxyContin. It was, strangely enough, about the same price as Suboxone and offers a much superior high. However, it wasn’t legal, since I obtained them via doctor shopping, and that’s why I ultimately chose to switch over to the government Suboxone program. It was expensive but it was legal and I could travel all over the world with my prescription (except Singapore, who considers buprenorphine a Class A drug).

I was happily on Suboxone for several years before I realized I was hooked on it. Yes, that’s how buprenorphine works, it has a STRONGER binding affinity to your opiate receptors, that’s why you don’t crave other opiates like oxycodone. It’s not very pleasurable, but it’s good enough to prevent you from seeking other MORE pleasurable opiates like heroin. The buzz is acceptable, and it staves off withdrawals. Many Suboxone users already know this but I bet the general public doesn’t. Suboxone works by making you dependent on it. That’s why you don’t get withdrawals, it’s coz you’re still on opiates. In other words, you become addicted to Suboxone.

Quitting was hard. It was harder than OxyContin due to the longer half life of Suboxone. I tried once with the help of my better half and I’m not ashamed to say that I tapped out after 4 or 5 days, just when the withdrawals hit me really hard. I’m not embarrassed coz with my life experience now, I know that you’ll know when the time is right to quit. It’s when you want to, above all else, without any other reason, no pressure, no one to nag you, no guilt. You quit coz you want to be rid of it. That’s when you succeed.

I tried cutting down and I got down to 1 x 8 mg Suboxone tablet per day. After a few weeks, I cut it down to 1/2 then 1/4. It’s hard to get rid of that final bit, the “boost” you need each morning and which comforts you, but when you cut it out of your life, it’s a lot better. I wonder why I didn’t do it sooner but I know the answer to that. It was coz I wasn’t ready to.

The same thing with benzodiazepines. This is the most insidious drug I’ve ever taken. Not worse than meth, methamphetamine is the worst thing I’ve ever taken, all in all. But I personally think benzodiazepines are more insidious than opiates. You know why? There is no honest “value proposal”. I took benzos for fun at first, then to help with the come downs from meth, then I obviously got addicted to them. The one time I tried to quit was cold turkey, in drug rehab, coz the sick sons of bitches at the center didn’t know anything about benzodiazepines or how dangerous it is to quit cold turkey.

I seized in the jail cell while my ankles were shackled and my hands were handcuffed. I cried, I had multiple seizures, I thought I was going to die, and I wept again. It was a fucking nightmare, going from 10 mg clonazepam (Rivotril), 2 mg alprazolam (Xanax) and 20 mg diazepam (Valium) in a day to complete zero, cold turkey, back in 2007. I’m not sure if I can do it a second time. That’s what I thought for the next few years anyway, since I started taking them again after rehab.

However, and I’m really not sure what the catalyst is, I somehow decided to take less and less starting from last year. I was on 2 mg clonazepam (Rivotril) daily for many years and then I decided to start taking 1/2 of the tablet. Thus, I was on 1 mg. It felt better, and my head was clearer and I was feeling a lot more emotions and I thought that was good. It was. I cut again to 0.5 mg of clonazepam (which is 1/4 of the tablet).

One day, my doctor said he ran out of clonazepam and it’ll take 2 weeks to get the new stock so he gave me diazepam (Valium) instead. It was a 10 mg pill which is about equivalent to 0.5 mg of clonazepam (don’t look at the mg, trust me when I say these two doses are “similar” – think of clonazepam as being 20 times stronger than diazepam) but it wasn’t. I felt significant amount of anxiety and had mild panic attacks but I liked the clarity. Clonazepam has stronger anti-anxiety effects but it’s not as hypnotic as diazepam. I felt sleepier and I hated it coz it felt like I was “going back” on my progress.

I didn’t want to let myself acclimatize so I cut it again by 1/2 to 5 mg. I cut it again the week after to 1/4 of that and within a week I titrated the dose to 1/8, 1/10 and 1/12. Then I switched to 5 mg Valium (diazepam) – it’s half the amount of my previous 10 mg tablet so it’s easier to split for a smaller dose. The doctor didn’t have 2 mg ones. I then started splitting the 5 mg pill to 1/20 until I had to pinch just a bit. It was effectively nothing coz it was about 1/30 of a 5 mg pill – or 0.16 mg daily. Most people take 5-10 mg and I managed to cut it down to zero with my own super fast taper plan. I was essentially clean. The last bit to get rid off was more psychological than anything.

It wasn’t pretty but it wasn’t as bad as when I kicked it cold turkey in rehab. I kinda like the new clarity. It gives me purpose. It also made me feel bad about the time I’ve spent “under the influence” (kinda). Now, this is not medical advice, everyone is different and you should never cold turkey quit benzodiazepines coz you might die of a seizure.

However, I have grown to belief that it’s more like US FDA precaution. I’ve done plenty of things which should have killed me. I’ve taken things which I KNOW as a fact that’s over the LD50 (lethal for 50% of the population – everyone is different) many, many, God so many times and I’m still alive. There’s nothing wrong with being on benzos, some people need it for anxiety.

I just didn’t want it anymore. It was a personal decision.

This is probably the last thing I’m going to write about drugs. I’ve said I was off all illegal drugs. Well, now I’m off it all – legal and prescription included. I don’t want it to define me anymore. I just want to write an appendix for the blog. This is it.

Starting a new Invisalign journey

Invisalign System

I’m restarting my Invisalign journey due to some minor misalignments from the previous set of aligners. It’s a good thing Invisalign provides complimentary remoulds in the off-chance that your aligners went out of whack for some reason or another. That means I’ll be going in to get my moulds done again – this should take a couple of hours but I’m keen to get started so I can make sure that everything goes well on my end. I’ve gotten quite used to wearing Invisalign but it was uncomfortable wearing the same aligners for over a month.

I had to keep my teeth in line while my new moulds were sent so that’s why I needed to wear the latest aligner (from the old set) until the new ones arrive. Thanks to advances in shipping (as well as in manufacturing) the new aligners should arrive pretty soon. The actual aligners are made in Mexico, or at least that’s what the packaging says, but the Invisalign technology itself is done it San Jose, California.

I’ll update again next month when I get them! :)

Save electricity like a boss!

El Nino

It’s the El Nino season and that means we’ll have plenty of hot, sunny days to look forward to! Or not. Most of us dread the heat wave that comes every time this year. We turn to the air conditioning on full blast and shut ourselves indoors to stay away from the heat. Heck even our home appliances like fridge operates on more electricity to stay cold; influenced by the residual heat from our home.

TNB has released figures which shows Malaysians use a peak demand of 17,171 MW last month (a staggering figure and an all-time high) and there have been news reports which featured a few residents getting shocked by their bill (not literally).

Here are some other tips which might help you cut down on electricity usage and save a little:

Air Con

1. Clean your air con filter

This really helps. Keeping your air conditioner filter clean is important in making in run efficiently. More cool air flows out of a clean filter so to take a huge amount off your bill, take out your filters and start dusting them. It’ll also help make the air cooler!

2. Watch the lights

Turn off the lights when you’re going out. You really don’t need a lamp to be on while you’re out, it just wastes electricity. That little bit can really add up so make sure all your switches are off before you go out. If you tend to be forgetful, you can try sticking a bit of tape beside your switch to remind yourself to switch it OFF before you leave. This works wonders in an office too – put something up like “Last one to leave, hit the lights”.

Lights Off

3. Use energy saving light bulbs

The energy saving light bulbs might cost more at first but they really do use a lot less energy in the long run. It’s just a little bit more to pay up front and you can easily recoup the cost back via energy savings (and then some). There are also slim florescent lights like the T5 variants which provide more brightness while consuming less energy so if you’re still using an old model or a non-energy saving bulb, make a trip to your local hypermarket to pick up one and start taking a huge chunk off your bills today.

5 Star

4. Look for 5 stars

Have you seen these stickers around electrical appliances? This is actually a rating that can help you reduce electricity consumption. Whenever you need a new kettle/fridge/washing machine (or any other electrical appliance) make sure to see how efficiently they run. These stickers rate each device and they can really cut down your bill over the long run. Make sure to go for as high a rating as possible, 5-star if possible. Those are the most efficient appliances and you can rest assured that buying a 5-star device can give you 5-star savings.

5. Turn off the computer

We love to be on Facebook and watch YouTube videos and some of us has even taken off the settings so the notebook or PC is on forever. The features to turn off your monitor and hard disk after a set amount of time is there for a reason – when you’re not using it, it’s better for the device to be off. This can really help you save so make sure the settings are correct and when in doubt, just turn off your computer when you’re done.

Switch

Need more cool tips to help you save? Surf on over here!

My before and after photos!

Before After

I’m sure a lot of people are curious to see photos like these. There has to be a reason why these Before and After photos are popular in all aesthetics related field. Here’s mine!

Warning: Some photos might be a little graphic since they show my insides in great detail.

Now, with that slightly clickbait sounding introduction (smirk) let me introduce you to some of the photos Imperial Dental Bangsar has been kind enough to share with me. These are taken by a professional photographer (they have one in-house) that takes snaps of you before procedures. I have had photos taken several times during the course of my Invisalign treatment (and once when I had a saliva duct infection).

Teeth

This is a shot of my front teeth.

Upper Jaw

Here’s one of the upper jaw…

Lower Jaw

…and a photo of my lower jaw.

The leftmost/upper pictures are all Before and the rightmost/lower ones are the After shots…or should I say “During”? I’m still in the midst of my Invisalign treatment – in fact, my awesome orthodontist Dr Salima made new Invisalign molds coz one of my lower left back teeth isn’t coming out as fast. There’s still a long journey ahead but you can see the positive changes already. There’s an inward growing teeth which has been removed in the picture above so everything looks nicer.

Before

My teeth are also a lot straighter now, even though it’s barely halfway through my treatment. I also realized I’ve grown A LOT fatter over the past year. T_T

Haha! I’ll post up more of these photos again soon!

BTW, I get a lot of comments asking about the cost of the procedure, and I’m not qualified to answer that since it differs for each individual. Try surfing over to Imperial Dental Bangsar and message them on Facebook for a proper quote if you’re interested. Cheers!

The Machine

Guess what this is? :)

X Ray

If you said X-Ray Machine you’re right! It’s an X-Ray machine for your teeth. I just went to Imperial Dental Bangsar coz I had a swollen jaw (!!!). This mysteriously manifested yesterday afternoon while I was eating. It turned out to be an infected saliva duct (seems to happen fairly often to people) and I was put on a course of antibiotics before I’m flying off to Japan. I didn’t get my Invisalign stuff done though, I’m supposed to be on a temporary rubber band therapy to see if the obstinate left backmost molar can be pushed in or I’ll have to do it all over again.

Bad news is I’ve been on Invisalign for over a year and I’ll hate for the time to be for naught. Good news is I won’t have to pay for the new Invisalign moulds as Dr Stephanie kindly told me it’ll be waived in this case.

We’ll see how it goes. I’ll update again at the end of the month when I’m due to go in. Cheers!

Pink shirt guy belts out an off tune (but heartfelt) song

I was at the karaoke last night and asked one of the staff to film this (admittedly horrible) rendition of the ABBA classic “The Winner Takes It All”. Mamma Mia was the first musical I went to with my better half and this song was in it. I think the staff member was quite confused as to what I actually wanted coz I had to use her phone to open the lyrics page while I sang outside.

I told her it was for my girlfriend and she happily agreed to do it. :)

Here it is for your weekend entertainment:

I don’t want to talk
About the things we’ve gone through
Though it’s hurting me
Now it’s history
I’ve played all my cards
And that’s what you’ve done too
Nothing more to say
No more Ace to play

The winner takes it all
The loser standing small
Beside the victory
That’s my destiny

I was in your arms
Thinking I belonged there
I figured it made sense
Building me a fence
Building me a home
Thinking I’ll be strong there
But I was a fool
Playing by the rules

The gods may throw a dice
Their minds as cold as ice
And someone way down here
Loses someone dear
The winner takes it all
The loser has to fall
It’s simple and it’s plain
Why should I complain?

But tell me does she kiss
Like I used to kiss you?
Does it feel the same
When she calls your name?
Somewhere deep inside
You must know I miss you
But what can I say
Rules must be obeyed

The judges will decide
The likes of me abide
Spectators of the show
Always staying low
The game is on again
A lover or a friend
A big thing or a small
The winner takes it all

I don’t want to talk
If it makes you feel sad
And I understand
You’ve come to shake my hand
I apologize
If it makes you feel bad
Seeing me so tense
No self-confidence

The winner takes it all
The winner takes it all

World Suicide Prevention Day 2015

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. I’ve seen a lot of resources offered to people who’re contemplating (Befrienders etc) which is good and all, but some people don’t want to talk and they’re past the stage where they want to talk.

If you’re one of those people, I can totally vouch for this site. I had linked it in the past, in 2004 and it’s a very good read.

It has helped a lot of people and I highly recommend taking a minute to read this before you decide anything:

If you’re thinking about suicide, read this first.

My teeth stopped hurting!

Ill Fitting Aligners

I’ve been having problems with my teeth lately…or more specifically, my gums. I’ve been on Invisalign for several months now and I noticed that the back of my jaw hurts whenever I put the aligners on.

I chalked it down to the Invisalign treatment working its magic and ignored the pain each and every time I had to put them back on after I finish my meals.
It makes sense that aligning your teeth would sting (at least a little) right?

Cutting Aligners

However, it started getting worse and the next time I was at Imperial Dental Bangsar, I told my orthodontist about the discomfort. She told me it doesn’t sound normal at all and after showing her where it was tender, she immediately isolated the problem.

It wasn’t the Invisalign treatment that was hurting my gums after all – it was due to the very back of the aligners pressing *into* my gums! It turns out that everyone’s teeth is sized differently and the standard set was a little too large for my molars so it impacted the gums.

Cutting Invisalign

I didn’t even realize it was my gums that were sore, I thought it was my teeth!

Thus, the good people at Imperial Dental Bangsar helped me to custom cut my bottom aligners. The back of the bottom right side was taken off quite a bit – scissors were used to make a sideways L cutaway so it won’t touch my gums. I tested it and found out that the ache on my right was gone but my left side was starting to smart.

Cutting Invisalign Aligners

Heh! It turns out that BOTH sides were in contact with my gums but since the right side was much more painful so I didn’t even realize that the left side was in distress!

It takes a very good orthodontist to be able to isolate and treat conditions like this. I felt comfortable talking to the people there, or I wouldn’t have brought it up. I’ve always thought I had a high tolerance to pain and tend to suffer in silence.

Fixing Invisalign

Good thing Dr. Salma and Dr. Stephanie (my orthodontists) diagnosed what was wrong and fixed the bottom aligners on both sides by cutting it to my teeth size and sanding it down so the edges aren’t sharp. They helped me cut and sand the next few aligners too, so I don’t have to do it myself – they all fit properly and painlessly now.

Invisalign Fix

It’s little details like this that gives Imperial Dental Bangsar the good name they have (really, ask anyone who’s been there about their service) and I’m glad they’re the ones taking me through this 2 year journey to a perfect smile. :)

The day won’t be quite as bright…

Cut Hand

I accidentally cut my hand just now while trying to slice a mango (of all things). My better half gave me a bunch of mangoes to eat and what I’ll do is slice the top off of each one and peel downwards.

However, this particular mango was rather slippery and the knife slipped and I sliced into my right arm instead.

Deep Cut

It turns out that the skin at this particular area is actually quite thick, and it took considerable force to make such a deep cut. I think the fact that my knife is about as sharp as a pair of children’s scissors helped, or else it’ll have been much worse. :x

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