Monday, 11 November 2013

Grasping at Straws

Clean teeth and fresh breath have always been very important to Mike. Before he gave up control of his oral hygiene routine, he brushed, flossed and rinsed with mouth wash a number of times a day. He carried dental floss with him in his pocket and kept some in the car. He would always take a step back when conversing with someone if he didn't think his breathe was fresh. Same when I went in for a kiss, if he hadn't recently cleaned, he'd turn his head and give me his cheek.

I remember watching Mike brush his teeth with a hand that just wouldn't cooperate. He was losing the ability to hold his tooth brush and I knew he wasn't getting the cleaning he desired. But he kept doing the best he could and never gave up. He struggled for a while before I suggested I help. Without hesitation, he handed over his tooth brush. He didn't really have a choice; it was that or gingivitis. Plus, he was getting good at letting go.

Brushing Mike's teeth has become more and more of a challenge. He struggles to grip a straw with his lips and draw water up to his mouth. It can take a really long time, but Mike likes to rinse well before and after brushing. So, with the same persistence he has had for so many other things, he keeps trying and doesn't give up. He is patient with himself. When water enters his mouth, he smiles a little. His lips unable to seal tightly, allow some water to dribble out. After he swishes the water around in his mouth the best he can, he loosens his lips and the water spills out and rolls down his chin and I catch it in a dish. And then he repeats the process. He laughs at me sometimes,  on my knees, I must look bored as I wait but really I'm intrigued at his determination. My arms get tired holding the cup in one hand and the dish in the other. He probably thinks "some fitness instructor you are". He used to say that to me when I would cruse around a parking lot looking for the closest spot. When he drove he always went straight to the back of the lot where there were lots of spots to park.
Anyway, Mike just never gives up. He doesn't quit. He has displayed the same constant determination at every stage of this illness without fail. Maybe sometimes on the inside he is screaming "I quit!", but on the outside he is composed, calm, okay. He has had to let go of almost everything, but he still perseveres, he is still determined. He was once a strong, fit, athletic man capable of so much. Now with all his might, he draws water up a straw.

"If God has made your cup sweet, drink it with grace; or even if He has made it bitter, drink it in communion with Him. If the providential will of God means a hard and difficult time for you, go through it...You must go through the trial before you have any right to pronounce a verdict, because by going through the trial you learn to know God better. God is working in us to reach His highest goals until His purpose and our purpose  become one." Oswald Chambers


1 comment:

  1. What a powerful post. Thanks for sharing an oral health perspective.