Sustaining One’s Looks

A hospital bed evening beauty treatment:

  1. Lay a hot washcloth over her face to moisten the skin and open the pores, then use it to gently wipe the crusties in her eyes away.
  2. Massage cream cleanser in little circles over her cheeks, her forehead, her chin, her sweet and dainty nose, and end with gentle sweeps over her closed eyelids.
  3. Use the now-warm washcloth to gently wipe the cleanser away, rinse it well in hot water, and make another pass to make sure her face is clean.
  4. Saturate a cotton beauty pad with toner and gently sweep it over her face in upward strokes, avoiding her eyes. Use the rest of the pad on her neck.
  5. Put a dollop of Oil of Olay in the palm of your left hand and dip and dab with your right, smoothing the beauty lotion over her skin.
  6. The whole time she will lay quiet, eyes closed and smiling. Once finished, ask, “Does that feel good?” and she will look you in the eyes with that singular mixture of gratitude and pride and say, “Yes, baby. Thank you.”

An Oral-B electric toothbrush turned out to work very well for her — it had a large enough handle that she could grip it and move it around her mouth on her own with her now-simple dentist’s hands. We decided that this electric toothbrush was, in fact, superior to the old manual brush — I got one for myself as well.

Flossing was not solved so effortlessly. She walked me through the same lecture on Flossing a Patient’s Mouth that she had delivered to countless dental assistants. Easier than one thought, but challenging to carry out to a dentist’s satisfaction. With index fingers holding taught 1cm of floss, having made the rounds top and bottom, I’d ask, “How’s that?” Frowning with concentration, her tongue made the same rounds and she’d declare, “One more. Here.” She’d open her mouth, pointing at the offending spot with the prehensile tip of her tongue, and I’d dive in again to clear it out so that I could have that singular look and those words again, “Yes, baby. Thank you.”

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