My brother started losing his hair when he was in his early twenties. This didn’t make him very happy and he would take every opportunity to bemoan the fact to anyone within earshot. My mother, a woman who had undergone two kidney transplants in less than five years, was not one to put up with what she considered frivolous complaints. She had spent a good portion of our childhood in and out of hospitals, attached to machines, doing whatever it took to stay alive long enough to guide us to adulthood. She had no sympathy for my brother and his receding hairline.
“Matthew, do both your kidneys work?” she’d ask
“Then shut up.”
I only bring this up because I have an appointment with my periodontist today and I’m feeling a bit of my little brother’s pain. No, I’m not losing my hair (although female-pattern baldness would devastate me) but rather, my gums. Yes, the gums that I spent so much time caring for diligently over the past several decades. I may have been negligent as a teenager, but I flossed and brushed, and rinsed like a crazy woman to make up for it all during my twenties, thirties, and forties. Even my dentist would applaud me on my oral hygiene.
Oh, I was so smug. And now, at the age of fifty, it’s all coming back to kick me in the mouth.
I have…receding gums. I’m a woman who is now long in the tooth as the saying goes.
The bad news: My mom’s no longer here to listen to me vent about the possible gum grafting procedure in my not so far off future. The good news: Both my kidneys still work.
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