A good night’s rest?
Through this journey with Barry suffering from frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and our money worries, people ask me if I have a hard time sleeping. Actually, there have been very few nights since our troubles began when I have not slept like a baby.
I am blessed with the ability to sleep. One of the few nights when I could not sleep was when Barry was fired on Dec. 23 from the caretaker’s job. He had just been diagnosed with FTD, but no one at his job knew about it. The manager told us we had to move out within 24 hours. That night, I laid awake staring at the ceiling, barely able to breathe in the guest bedroom of my parents’ house. I felt buried alive that night as I tried to figure out what to do. The manager ended up letting Barry stay on after I begged and showed him the paperwork from the neurologist about the diagnosis. Soon after that, I moved back in with Barry because he could no longer live on his own.
Though those years, I slept on the floor of my studio and on many couches. I was so angry at Barry that I could not sleep in the same bed with him. But not even the anger could keep me from a sound sleep. I thought I was sleeping so peacefully, but the stress I was feeling came out in the form of grinding my teeth all night long. I found out that I was grinding my teeth from my dentist. I had no idea. My teeth had been aching for many years and now I knew why.
Teeth tell the story
I have been thinking about teeth a lot lately — not just mine, but Barry’s as well. I am worried about his teeth. When feeding him lately, I have noticed that his bottom teeth are very crooked. I do not remember his teeth being crooked. Did I never see his bottom teeth before? You would think I would know how they looked given our decades as a married couple. Were his teeth always that crooked or have they been shifting? Are they loose? I tried to reach into his mouth the other day to see if they were loose, but he wouldn’t let me — and I didn’t want to lose a finger. Maybe he is grinding his teeth because of stress, too. Maybe they are loose because the aides don’t brush them on a regular basis. Barry holds spit in his mouth for hours and that can’t be good. Or maybe all these years, I simply never noticed that his bottom teeth were crooked. What else have I never noticed about him and most likely never will now?
My dentist gave me a mouth guard to prevent teeth grinding. I am surprised at how comfortable it is, and my teeth aren’t as achy! Barry does not have that option. He can’t safely wear a mouth guard, and he can’t sit in a dentist’s chair without being sedated. They can barely brush his teeth because of his constant movement. If his teeth are loose, there is likely nothing to be done about it. Barry is slowly losing the ability to swallow, and I hate to say this, but soon he won’t need teeth.
I may not remember what his bottom teeth looked like, but I do remember this handsome man’s beautiful smile. That’s the memory I will keep.