Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A New Type of Journey

In the post I just wrote I acknowledged the fact that I am old.  There are certain types of challenges that I'm facing as an old woman.  My beloved daughters do not want me to "own" being old.  They want me to be young.  They watched their Father die when he was a mere 54.  I have been advised that I will live at least to 95 preferably to 120.  When I suggested that if I made it to 120 I would be a shadow of a human lying in a bed going blah, blah, de blah blah.  They replied, "Yes, but you will still be with us!"

However, moving my way through life I have had seasons of "repair," for this body, and seasons of just radiant joy in enjoying the gifts that having a mortal body gives me. This year is a season of repair. A season of healing.

The Bible has a wonderful scripture that says, "To everything turn, turn, turn, there is a season, turn, turn, turn, and a time to every purpose under heaven."  This is that type of season.

My poor teeth.  They have served me ever so well.  This fact can be attested when a glance is made at my current 220 pound framework.  I have a firm foundation.  I'm a curvaceous cutie.  Or as my sweetheart used to tell me, "You're Rubinesque!" 

My dear parents sacrificed a great deal to pay one thousand dollars to get my teeth straightened.  That would be about 5 thousand dollars now.  At the end of my teen years I faced the world with glistening, beautiful, white teeth.  It was a huge confidence booster.  Before braces I had too many teeth in a too small mouth.  I had my Father's rather large teeth in my Mother's rather small mouth.  My oldest Brother shared a similar fate.  I still am a trifle jealous of my beautiful sister who had and has perfect teeth.  I did say just a trifle.  She's beautiful all the way through and I no longer let jealousy hold my love for her back.  My Brother also had braces, but he achieved them in his 30's.  He was and is so handsome that crooked teeth were more about good health.

Now, I stand on the threshold of the removal of all those teeth.  Well, there aren't so very many left.  A mere 14 teeth stand between me and a new life with dentures.  Am I embarrassed to admit that I will have false teeth?  Not even a little.  I will be filled with gratitude to smile and not have embarrassing gray, rotten teeth, with little jaggedy, raggedy broken parts left.

Why on earth would anyone post about this subject?  I do so with the hope that there is someone in the Cyber world who will read of my experience and receive courage or comfort in a common journey.

It is not just my teeth that will be removed this year.  Both of my knees have been well used.  I dance. Sometimes the dance is performed in a wheelchair, or regular chair, but I DANCE!  I have promised myself that if all I can move is my eyes, or my soul...I WILL DANCE!

Two miserable knees, that have literally been knocked sideways hinder my process.  I use medication to palliate the worst of the hideous pain but there are days that I simply can't face walking up and down our stairs, let alone dressing and going out in the world.

I went to my dentist to have molds made, and measurements made, and choices made to the color of my dentures.  I admire my dentist. He is not only proficient at his craft, but he is a deeply spiritual man.  He is the unpaid shepherd of his religious flock.

The assistant came to me with two denture pieces to decide what color my dentures should be.  I suddenly realized that she was holding up the pieces next to my teeth.  When I said, "Wait, are you trying to match the color of what teeth I have left?  They are rotten, nasty.  I want dentures that AREN'T rotten and nasty!"

She said, well this is the color used the most often.  (There was very much an unstated, AT YOUR AGE).

I replied, "My teeth are awful.  They are all damaged and rotten.  Why on earth would I want dentures that are the same color?"

She then showed me a lighter tone and said, "Well this is the color next to it.  Is this color ok?"

I wasn't really certain that I appreciated the slightly lighter gray tone that she was showing me.  After she left to take care of some other business, and the dentist was working with someone else, I got up and looked at the colors of dentures that she hadn't shown me.

When the dentist returned I said, "Is there some reason that I'm missing why I would want dentures that look old and dingy?"

He said, "We have found that lighter shades of color do not look realistic.  So we prefer to use these colors.  Most people do not want others to realize that they have dentures."  (Not an exact quote of what he said, but the meaning is there).

I said, "I have been battling with my rotten teeth for at least 10 years.  Now my daughters are helping me to get the old rotten pieces removed and dentures in place.  I am NOT trying to hide the fact that I'm getting dentures.  I'm quite proud of the idea.  I'm a rather open person.  Those people that I care about will know for a fact that I have dentures!  So why would I want gray, dismal dentures?"

He didn't really have a response for that.  I think my attitude was a bit of a surprise for him.  An almost old woman who wants white dentures?  What?

I loved it when he measure the two front teeth that I do have (they are both crowns, but lovely crowns), and said, "Your teeth are a good length for us to make the dentures."  Did you hear that Mom, Dad?  My teeth were a good length!  So even if there was that too little of a mouth for too many teeth thing, you gave me teeth that were a good length!

The hardest part of all of this was the financial part.  I have fought ever since Nyle's death to find a way to get my teeth cared for without having my daughters future compromised by debt for my rotten teeth.  I tried many, many different avenues for charitable assistance.  There was always some reason that I didn't qualify.

When we lived in Portland I had an assistant who came three times a week for four hours each time.  She helped me with the tasks that I'm not supposed to do.  Things like "Dishes, laundry, vacuuming, shopping for groceries, and sometimes helping me in and out of the bathtub depending on the level my disability was at.  In addition they paid for any dental needs, and any and all medical needs.

We moved to Utah because our two beautiful daughters grew up and went to school in the general area.  We also moved because my Mama was almost 90 and needed more care.  Then there were the myriads of Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, etc. that I had been missing for almost 20 years. 

I made the fateful assumption that I would be able to qualify for a similar program here in Utah.  I could not have been more wrong.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints is very strong here.  I am a member.  I have actually had social services suggest that I need to turn to my family and/or clergy. 
So much for separation of church and state, right?

I'm so beyond excited for this to be over and done.  One of my dear friends who also battles the fights of disability had to have all her teeth extracted at the young age of 45.  She is such a light, such a positive soul.  She said, "The day they pulled my teeth I went to a movie with a friend.  Once my gums were healed and my dentures were made I would go to bed, take out my teeth, and eat chocolate.  No worries about tooth decay any more!  I would go to the dentist, take out my dentures, hand them to him, and just SMILE!  No more drilling, filling, or the other horrors of dentistry!"

I will strive to be positive as I march through this part of my journey this year.  I am blessed with a wonderful support network.  I know that I will come out of this year's challenges BIONIC!  Oh watch that girl chew!  It's amazing!  Watch that girl hike/dance/walk ferociously!  Two new knees, and a beautiful grin!  I'm SO EXCITED!


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