Tuesday, October 1, 2013

G'ma's Teeth

Amster and The Firefighter are bringing the truck over this afternoon.  He'll load up G'ma's mattress and box spring, and deliver it to her room, placing it on top of the bed frame I'll have set up by the time he arrives. Firefighters have very strong upper bodies, having to carry hoses and axes and humans up ladders and down staircases. He hefts the pieces up and over his head without any assistance at all, while I stand and stare, in amazement. He has the truck, he's on his way to pick up furniture from a friend, it's a favor he's happy to grant.

I didn't tell G'ma that her bed is on its way.

I realized that she was no longer in the decision making loop last week, at the dentist. The pod castle had alerted me to a swelling along her jaw line; I went over to take a look and decide whether to call the dentist or the gerontologist. This was the kind of decision I had to make for my children, and the kind of decision for which I would have sought my mother's input. I knew the limits of my knowledge.. and I wanted her support because there was something wrong with my child. She was there for both pieces. Now she's not there for either.

The Nurse Practitioner checked her out the next day, put her on an anti-biotic, and recommended a visit to the dentist. She's a rock star in that office, everyone complimenting her blue eyes and her smiling disposition.  The nurse escorts her back without me; G'ma is comfortable in familiar surroundings and the dentist's chair is a place to which she is quite accustomed.

She has my teeth and the dentist's teeth and lately her teeth have been decaying... loosening... abscessing... Dr. Jess waxed eloquent as he described the disaster area masquerading as my mother's lower jaw. There were options, most of them expensive and requiring many visits, none of them guaranteeing anything for the long term.

The question of the long term is one I consider every time I think about my mother.

After much discussion between Nurse Becky and Dr. Jess and me, we decided to pull all the teeth and get one new set. This seemed preferable to creating new bridges to attach to ever-loosening teeth. It made sense at the time, Dr. Jess had an opening in his schedule and could do the extractions right then, and so I went out to the waiting room with my Kindle while my mom surrendered body parts.

I'd never asked her a question about the procedure.  I didn't solicit her opinion. I let her nod off in the chair, oblivious but content.  A doctor and her daughter were in the room; she felt safe enough to nap as I made decisions about her quality of life. I'd never done that before.

Always, I hand her the pen for a signature on a document.  Always, I ask her what she'd like to buy for the kids for an anniversary present, or a graduation gift. Always, I ask her to choose the restaurant and her meal. And always, I involve her in decisions regarding her body. Always.... until now.

It wouldn't have made a difference.  She would have deferred to my judgement. I am not second guessing my choice. I'm just feeling very alone as I made it.

She's fading from her own life, as well as from mine.


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