Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Denture Debacle

I shouldn't write this post.  I've told myself all afternoon not to do it but obviously I'm not listening.

I'm sorry to all my blogging friends who read this one!  Going to get that out of the way right now, first and up front!!

My dad is 83 and has quite a few physical/medical issues.  I live with him 24/7 so he doesn't have to go into a facility.  I have three younger brothers, two of whom do nothing to help me with dad. The third does what he can which I appreciate though I wish for more help.  Now....having said all that, it was my decision to take care of dad in his senior years.  He doesn't want to go to a home, nor do my brothers or I want him to go to one.  Again....I remind myself, this was my decision to do this for dad.  No one pushed me or held a gun to my head.  Still, there are some days I question the sanity of that decision and today happens to be one of those days.

Now, I also want to say, I don't write much about dad and my life with him because frankly, it's personal and not always a pretty picture.   I don't believe he would want me telling stories about his private life that would be embarrassing.  Old age has a way of demoralizing one's confidence and abilities enough as it is.  He doesn't need me sharing it with perfect strangers. 

Somehow though after this little incident I can't seem to stop myself.  I just need to tell someone, anyone.  That or....cry!!

You see, dad has needed new dentures for at least the last three or four years.  He has the money to get them but he refuses, getting downright mad at me for even suggesting it.  He doesn't like to spend a dime.  I don't even like taking him to the grocery, one because it's hard for him to walk, but two, he is always shocked at how expensive things are.  I end up buying just a few things on the list and go back latter for the rest when he is napping.   So obviously, dentures are out of the question as far as he is concerned.  

However, the last few years have been wearing roughly on me with his old dentures.  The top one falls out when he is eating or talking to people which embarrasses me greatly.  The noise he makes when eating is unbearable, food falls out of his mouth and he can't chew anything...there I've said it.  When you sit across the supper table from him sometimes it's all I can do to get through the meal.  Believe me I've tried to alleviate this pain!  I turn the television up really loudly but sometimes even that doesn't help.  I try to not look, I try to not get upset when he can't chew what I have fixed even though I can cut it with a fork.    GRRRRR!

So, I went behind his back and made an appointment for new ones and didn't tell him until right before it was time to go.  I know that was a bad thing to do but it made my discomfort so much easier.  And besides, even if I had told him well in advance he would have forgotten by the next day anyway and I would have to go through the whole experience the next time I told him!

We made it through all the impressions and finally the day came for the new teeth.  Mr. Fix-it had to take him to the dentist for me as I had a physical therapy appointment and of course there were no brothers around that could help.  When I got home I was so excited to see his pretty new teeth.  Not once did they come out during supper, and even though he was eating soft foods, nor were there any horrible noises.  MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!

At least until the next morning.  I was going about my business getting dad's breakfast, coffee and meds when he came storming out of his room.  Not really storming, he can't move that fast, however, out he came proclaiming angrily,  "Well we've got to find that dentist"!   What!!  Why???   Apparently, he'd had to sleep in his uppers all night because he couldn't get them out.   Personally I don't see that as much of a problem.  I'm thrilled they are fitting tightly.

He then proceeds to slam a small capped plastic bottle filled with water and his lower denture on the kitchen table stating that it doesn't fit because he can't get them in.  With all the patience I can muster I remind him he wore them all day yesterday and how can they not fit today?  In fact, I assured him I had seen him take the lowers out and put them back in last night after supper to which he was sure he hadn't.   

When his shower aide arrived, he immediately tells her he spent two hours the night before trying to unsuccessfully get his upper plate out and that we had to leave right now to go to the dentist to get them fixed!!  (Of course, two hours was actually more like fifteen minutes!)  I explained to him that I would have to call first that we couldn't just walk in because they had other patients and he became indignant and couldn't understand why not.   Oh my gosh, I don't want to get old and lose my sense of logic.  

Finally we go to the dentist and as I am carrying the little plastic jar with his denture into the office, the cute little receptionist says,  "What's that your bringing me?"  Now...I thought that was an odd comment, she knew what we were coming in for and surely she would recognize the little container the Dr. must send home with all denture customers, right?  I proudly held it up displaying the non-conforming plate in the little container saying sardonically in a low voice,  "See, he's not wearing them!"   

Cute little receptionist lets out a giggle and says,  "Well I thought it looked like a urine sample!"   A urine sample?!?!?  Who would bring a urine sample to a dentist!!  Why would she think that, wouldn't she see these little bottles go in and out of the office all the time?

 And that's when it hit me!  

It IS a urine sample container!!  Omg I am mortified!!!  Since Mr. Fix-it was the one to take him to get his new dentures, I had wrongly assumed the container was sent home with him from the Dentist.  Well we all know what happens when we 'assume' something, right!  I had totally forgotten that a month ago dad was at the Dr.'s and a urine sample was needed but he couldn't do it and the nurse sent the bottle home with him.  To make matters worse, (so sorry for this information!!) he had tried at home but......couldn't hit the bottle!  Getting the sample was promptly forgotten....until this incident!  

When we left the office with his new dentures in his mouth but the old denture in the little container I told him this was his urine sample bottle to which he replied as seriously as he possibly could,  "Well about time we found a use for the thing."   

OMG, I wanted to cry!  Now that a few days have passed I am able to laugh about it with Mr. Fix-it............barely.


  1. You need to visit with my sister. Bev was the one who was the main care giver for Dad in his declining years.

    She was much more patient than I could ever have been. Maybe that is why you are there, you are the right one. Bev was our angel and you are your family's angel. It is a hard job.

    Dad's physical condition remained long after his present mind was gone. He was still functional and always busy, just not always busy with the right things.

    Like the day, Beverly watched him as he cleaned the kitchen stove. There was a counter in between so she could not see exactly what he was doing. He was busy, happy and she had checked on him once. She could see him so she kept on working. Later she discovered he not only had a dishrag cleaning the stove but had mixed sugar and water and packed it neatly around each ELECTRIC burner...did a good job of it.

    What helped Beverly was taking Dad to the nursing facility for a few days ever so often for respite. We all helped but nothing is as hard as being the main care giver.

    You are your Dad's angel...even if he doesn't acknowledge, he does appreciate it.

  2. Thanks Gail! I know I'm not the only one out there going through this but boy it sure does feel like it sometimes!!

  3. Okay, I admit to giggling about parts of this, so please forgive me. I think the truth of it is, you have to laugh about these things that happen, or you'll just drive yourself insane. One day, you will be able to look back with no regrets, and a lot of small smiles that your brothers will have missed.

  4. Karen,
    Oh my gosh! I'm so glad you shared and don't ever feel apologetic! I remember when I started my blog I was right in the thick of caring for my Mom who was very ill at the time. All the emotions and things going through my head sounds exactly like what you are describing! I TOTALLY understand. We have a very similar situation with our siblings also.
    I count my blessings every single day that my Mom can live on her own with my help. Living with the person you are caring for is an entirely different situation. Even though you chose it that doesn't mean you should be tried beyond what you can bear. Having people to talk to about what you are feeling and experiencing is critical to your mental sanity!
    Finding the humor in situations like you've done is critical also! Some days for me are better than others too. But when the time comes and you are feeling overwhelmed it's time for some help and to have time for yourself. You are a good and loving daughter. You deserve to be heard and understood and given the utmost consideration for your needs too!
    This is a good post Karen! Maybe those who find themselves in a similar situation some day will appreciate more fully what you are going through!
    Blessings to you and your Dad.
    May each day you have with your Dad find a little something to smile about and fondly remember! You are making that possible!
    Big Big hugs!
    Cathy G

  5. Karen ~
    You can share with us anytime. Many of can relate!!! I was not the primary caregiver (and I had a couple of useless silblings!!!), and it still was was difficult.
    My mom lost a couple sets of dentures. I have no idea what happened to!
    Keep your sense of humor. We love you, girlfriend.
    Pug hugs ;)

  6. Oh Karen, I completely understand. Like you, I am not comfortable over-sharing about Mom but sometimes you need to get some of these incidents off your chest.
    If we don't find the humor in some of these things, we"ll lose it. I have a doozy of a denture story I will share with you sometime.

  7. yes sometimes it is good to talk about this!

    Thanks for the story

  8. I can see a book coming from your experiences! Please keep your sense of humor and write it all down!


  9. Oh gosh Donna I find it hard to think of any of this being a book when it just makes me want to cry!!!

  10. I admire how you take care of your dad. You also seem to always keep a positive attitude.

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