Sunday, March 27, 2016

Fun with Mom re: false teeth

So the other day, when Mom was vomiting a bunch - deep, stinky bile, bearing on her gall bladder issues - somewhere in there, she lost her bottom plate of false teeth. They ended up wrapped in a Kleenex in her purse, and - unusual for her - she went a day without them.

Anyhow, I asked her yesterday if she wanted them in, and she asked me to clean them first (naturally). So we found them in her purse and I gave them a good scrubbing in the ER bathroom. It all put me in mind of a story that I told her at her bedside. When my father was in his last few months, worn out from chemo (and without any travel insurance of any sort!) he took one final, stubborn trip to Nooksack casino in the USA with my Mom, against my protests. He ended up getting really sick on the coach, puking freely into their toilet. May have had some colostomy bag problems, too - it was a real mess. The worst of it was, one plate of his brand new false teeth, which he'd just gotten made because all his weight loss meant his old teeth didn't fit anymore, flew out of his mouth and - plunk! - into the bus toilet, there to ride around in the septic tank beneath the bus, with all the puke and feces and urine and chemicals. Arrrgh! We notified the coach service, and Dad went back to wearing his previous, ill-fitting plate of teeth.

Mom was already laughing as I told her this, which was really good to see; she didn't remember the story at all, she said.

Anyhow, I continued, one day the bus people showed up at our door: they had drained the septic tank and found my father's plate of teeth. They had cleaned them off and brought them to him, wrapped in tissues. But given where they had been, he had no desire to wear them ever again, no matter HOW much they were cleaned. I mean, would YOU put teeth back in your mouth that had ridden around for a couple of days in a bus septic tank?

So when he died, father was cremated with his previous teeth, ill-fitting or no. But that led to the strangely sweet, undeniably funny, and kind of tragic conclusion to the story: because during that very tough week when Mom and I were going through the apartment, deciding what to keep, what to bag up for Big Brothers, and what to just throw away, she came up to me, laughing, with the teeth in hand, still wrapped in tissues.

Telling her the story, Mom got laughing so hard that her blood pressure cuff - because she's tied in to all sorts of monitors and machines that go beep - freaked out; when the patient is agitated, it can't get a proper reading. So between laughs, she started going "ow!" and wincing. We had to calm her down so I could finish the story - "don't laugh too hard;" literally, the machine only hurts you when you laugh.

It was great to see her laughing, though. Dad's photo - which the paramedics were nice enough to take off the wall and bring with her - smiled at us the whole time. She's still exhausted and weak, but seems to be a whole lot better than yesterday.

I'll be showering up and going to spend another day with her today. I slept from about 4:30 pm yesterday to 3AM today, so exhaustion is no excuse to come home early (though I will probably run out of steam by dinnertime).

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