It took all morning, but eventually I had been to my ortho's office, had my powerchains and wires out, walked down the hall to my dentist for a cleaning, and came back to the ortho for my adjustment.
Both the hygenist and dentist commented on how well I had been keeping everything clean. No redness, bleeding, or signs of gingivitis (a problem of mine even before the braces)! I admitted to not flossing often since getting the powerchains on - it's almost impossible - but said my "best" routine was to waterpick, then brush with my Oral-B Triumph electric toothbrush, then rinse with Crest Pro-Health (spearmint flavor), and use an interdental brush to get all the "stringys" left behind after the mouthwash. That seemed to meet with their approval.
New wires at the orthos, and finally the light at the end of the tunnel became visible. They moved me into Phase III with Stainless Steel .019 x .025 on top and .016 x .025 on the bottom. Both powerchains remained, and I was told they likely would stay until the end of my treatment. I resigned myself to it; I have a goal after all. Plus the gap on the bottom was still there. The good news was they put the lower powerchain around my back brackets instead of the hook, so the food-trap triangle was gone.
Some pics for your viewing pleasure:
Braced smile, 13 months in. Everything's starting to look rounded out and even, though the upper arch looks a little off-level due to my lateral incisors being different lengths.
Teeth "bared" to show my lowers. Notice there is STILL a gap down there, though by this point it does look smaller. You can also see both of my powerchains in this pic. Notice the lower powerchain is BELOW the archwire. That's something to do with needing more expansion or not, but by this point it didn't really matter for my case, and at the end of this appointment they put it back on over top of the archwire. Actually made it easier to clean.
Appointments down to 3-week separation now; next one scheduled for March 19th.