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Dust in the Wind

At some point in my life, a few years back, I stopped waiting for my future and starting living in the here and now. And some time during this period I started getting old. I once heard the morbid statement that a person is dying from the moment they are born. I suppose this is true but during our childhood we are too busy growing and learning to realize that our growth and accomplishments are a sign that we are one day closer to our last. In our late teens and twenties we are just surviving and can hardly think toward the future to worry about much beyond how to function as an adult in society.

Having children ages us or at least makes us aware of our age, for many reasons. The physical act of producing a child made my body age. Before Caroline's conception I was an agile, active twenty-something who could still perform the same gymnastics tricks I had when I was 15. After carrying and delivering her, my back knotted up, I could barely bend over to change her diaper and had to practice my daily Kegel squeezes to keep me from wearing Depends.

As Caroline's birthdays pass I check off another year of my own life. I was twenty-eight when she was born and this fall we celebrated her third birthday. I ended my twenties without a minute to think about it or to say good bye to a decade of so much change. With this year bringing another child I can only imagine that I'll feel like I'll be kissing my thirties good bye with the blink of an eye.

I look at pictures of myself from 10 years ago and think, "Look at that baby face." I appear the same, and most people wouldn't notice much of a difference, but I have all the normal aging signs. My hands are starting to wrinkle, I have deep laugh lines and a gray hair or two. I pay great attention to the anti-aging products in the magazines and found Dr. Oz's recent show on women's dryness to be fascinating. I take good care of myself and hope to live a long, healthy life but there are warning signs that some of my decisions from my earlier days are now aiding in my body's slow decline.

I've made a lot of mistakes in my life. Some of you have been there as witnesses, others as accomplices. I really don't regret too many of these actions as I've learned from them. Yet if I could go back in time and make a change this would be it: I would brush my teeth better and floss every day and night. I've blamed it on genetics because that removes any fault from me but I know better. My carelessness as a kid left my parents poor, my dentists rich and me in a lot of pain. I used to laugh it off that I had 11 cavities my junior year of college. (I'm sure Mom and Dad thought the bills they received for the fillings were really humorous.) For the last decade I've been pumped and patched with metal but as long as I kept my mouth relatively shut nobody knew but me. Too bad that silver does not have the same qualities of a diamond. It does not last forever. Too bad that as we age, so do our bones. They become more brittle and all that work that repaired my damaged teeth was just a bandage.

I wish I could look back and say that the one tooth I lost was the first and last. That it was my "big lesson" in hygiene and bad dentistry. But I can't. This past Thursday evening, as I prepared dinner, I was a bad girl. I dipped into Caroline's Valentine's day goody bag and popped a milk chocolate heart into my mouth. I munched and stirred the pot of pasta on the stove. I munched some more, felt something hard, thought maybe this piece had nuts in it, and swallowed. Then I took a quick sweep of my mouth with my tongue and instantly knew something was different.

As is typical when I have a dental issue, I started to sweat. The room started to spin. Caroline's whine got a little higher and the cat seemed to wrap himself around my leg, tripping me as I moved. I grabbed the mini Mag-Lite, ran to the bathroom and cranked my mouth wide open. In that moment I felt like Geena Davis as a ghost in that scene from Beetle Juice when she and Alec Baldwin's human forms slowly fall out of their clothes as they crumble into dust.

I am falling apart and I ate half of my molar. How does this happen? I wasn't eating a Gob Stopper or chewing on ice. I ate a semi-soft piece of candy. The bone in my mouth has been expanding and contracting at a different rate than the metal that covers these teeth. This likely caused a fracture and the tooth split and came off. Like a crumbling rock, it chipped off, rolled around in chocolate and slid down my throat. Since then I've been incredibly cautious about what I put in my mouth. Pretzels, chips, M&M's are not for me, no, they are all too hard. I feel like my grandmother without her dentures. Before you know it I'll be putting my mouth in a cup of water each night, freaking the hell out of the person who accidentally grabs the cup for a late night drink of water.

If I were a caveman I'd long have been trampled or beaten, the toothless, blind lady in the corner of the cave who talks to the wall and gums on some other cave man's chewed up and spit out bison fat.

The good news this week is that my eye glass and contact lens prescription has not worsened. That's two years in a row! So my vision stays a strong 20/400 and still I hold the title in our house as "Mole Eyes." The bad news is that I wanted a pair of new, funky glasses to celebrate the state of my eyes and I was told by the optician that none of the frames would work for me. He suggested I shop the children's section for a frame with less lens. I guess the smaller the lens, the less magnified my eyes will look and the more realistically spaced apart my eyes will appear, preventing me from looking like a super distorted cyclops. The bright side is that the purchase of children's frames will save me a couple bucks which I can apply to my next dental visit.

At least I've still got my hearing. Wait, what? What did you say? I can't hear you! Must be all those concerts I went to as a kid or those ear buds I wear when working out. Does anyone know how much a hearing aid costs?


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