Toothbrushing 101



Toothbrushing is such a boring affair.  Something that one does, automatically, without even thinking about it.  Put some paste on the brush, scrub your teeth for a while, spit, rinse and spit again, and finite.  Until one day you wake up from a coma with a major brain injury and have to learn how to do the whole thing again.  Plus you’re not even cleared to swallow liquids yet, so you have to be very careful not to let any of the “liquid” get accidentally down your throat.  Where to begin…


First you have to be helped into the bathroom.  The CNA hands you a little cup and you have to figure out how to a. turn the faucet on and, b. get the cup under the stream.  When you have all that coordinated enough to get a little into the cup, you have to figure out how to turn the faucet off.  That completed, you have to strategically organize the order of operations, taking the lid off the toothpaste, putting the toothbrush against the tube of toothpaste while you squeeze, getting a little on the TOP of the toothbrush (not the side or the bottom), and juggling the whole thing to put the cap back on the toothpaste.  I usually bailed at this point until I was finished with the whole operation.

Now to the mouth.  Slowly, slowly, keeping careful aim.  Remember to keep your mouth open…too many times I was concentrating so hard on hitting my mouth that I hit…with my lips closed.  Sigh.  Bingo!  Fully loaded toothbrush inside my open mouth.  Now where to start brushing?  Top?  Bottom?  Side?  So many choices.  I need to get started because too often I just stalled out here.  Now I’m getting somewhere.  So far so good.  Now spit.

Ohhh nooo.  I forgot to lean over the sink, and I’m dribbling toothpaste slobber all over my chin.  Close my mouth a little, and bend slightly at the torso and try again.  Better.  Continue brushing.  I’m wearing out, but I’m not nearly finished.  Still lots of jobs to go before this task is complete.  Midway I usually have to go through the whole rigmarole of rinsing my brush out again, because I have too much foam.  Finally I believe I have done a good enough job.  What to do next?  I try to collect my thoughts.  Oh, yes.  Rinse out my brush.  I do that, then try to figure out whether to tap the brush on the side of the sink to get rid of excess water or not:  I decide to go for it, but get it upside down, then sideways, then hit my hand on the sink trying to tap my toothbrush.  Ouch!  Darn it!!  Ah well.  Good enough.  Now to get a little water in the cup again (a fairly monumental task with my skewed eyesight), and put some in my mouth, swish it around, and spit.  Darn.  I forgot to bend again.  It just runs down my chin.  I try to laugh at myself, because, after all, it IS pretty funny.  Do it again. Try to pitch the cup at the trash.  Miss by a mile.  Just look over and shrug because I’m too exhausted to go over and get it. Look in the mirror.  Smile weakly at the drool-stained, disheveled woman staring back at me from the mirror, because  I’m  moving forward every day, and that’s definitely better than backwards.