tooth tales

Out of the blue yesterday, I had a few fun memories of caregiving. I must admit they weren’t that much fun when they happened, but when I remember them, I find myself grinning.

Like the day my mother told me her teeth were hurting, and I asked here where, and she touched her eyes.

Or another teeth-hurting day, when she could not say which tooth was hurting till I took out her dentures, and then she touched a tooth in one of the dentures and told me, this one.

Mom always had the great confusion about dentures. If I held out the denture and asked her to put it on, she would tap her (existing) teeth, and nod, as if to tell me she had already done so 🙂 On a few occasions, she tried to take out her teeth after already having taken out her dentures.

And then there was the day we could not find the dentures. This happened some years ago, when she was still somewhat independent. Those day, she would get up at an (for me) unearthly hour of 4 a.m. and brush her teeth and (on most days), remove her dentures from the denture cup and put them on. But not that day. We served her breakfast–her favorite aloo parantha, nice and crisp and hot, and then realized she was not wearing her dentures. I went to the side-table – the denture cup was empty.

The Great Denture Hunt was started.

For the next hour, the entire household got down to the job. We swept the floor a couple of tables, moved furniture back and forth, checked behind cupboadrs, shook open all folded clothes, checked every container, small and big, we checked the bathroom, and even the trash.

No dentures.

Mom hadn’t had any breakfast, meanwhile, and obviously she could not chew, so I churned a few bananas and milk and apples in the mixie, gave the drink to her, and then resumed the Hunt. No luck. Pureed daal and tomatoes, pureed veggies and  potatoes and yoghurt for lunch. Resume hunt. No luck. Biscuits softened in juice for tea-time snack. Resume hunt. No luck. You get the idea.

Day three, I was out of ideas of where the dentures could be lurking, and even more out of ideas of stuff that could be pureed and still taste good enough for her. Ever tried pureed cabbage or cauliflower, for example? Or okra? Or brinjals?

We fixed an appointment with the dentist.

My theory (and we had nothing to prove or disprove it), is that Mom, disoriented, must have woken up even earlier than 4 a.m. that day. After brushing her teeth, out of habit, she must have picked up the dentures for wearing. Then she slipped into an alternate universe for a few moments and got disoriented as she snapped back. There she was, standing in the bathroom and on her palm was something pink and white thing that she could not recognize. So she did the most sensible thing under the circumstances–threw it in the toilet bowl and flushed it. Heck, if I woke up that early one morning and found myself holding a possible corpse of an alien, I’d probably do the same.

When  the dentist asked me what happened to her old dentures, I told him she probably flushed them away. He looked totally shocked.  He gave a hesitant grin and asked me if I am joking, and I said, no, that is what happened. His shocked expression bounced back. I wonder if he saw it as funny or tragic. He may have considered it as an affront to his profession 🙂 Or maybe it became his favorite anecdote at the Dentist Convention, or whatever.

I always thought those dentures would pop up at some truly unexpected place, but it is five years since that happened, and the old dentures have yet to turn up.  Luckily, the new dentures are still around and functioning well.

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About Swapna Kishore
I'm a writer, blogger, and resource person for dementia/ caregiving in India. I have also been a dementia caregiver for well over a decade, and am deeply concerned about dementia care in India; on this blog I share my personal caregiving journey, my experiences as a resource person for dementia care, and musings on life, aging, dementia in India, and such sundries. More about me and the work I do for dementia care. For structured information on dementia, for discussions, tools and tips on caregiving issues, for resources in India, and for caregiver interviews, please check my website http://dementiacarenotes.in (or its Hindi version, http://dementiahindi.com). For videos on dementia caregiving (English and Hindi), check the youtube channel here.

One Response to tooth tales

  1. austere says:

    I give up!
    laughed my gut out at this one.
    Not done… stay sober, lady…

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