Dentists, Birthdays, and Aneurysms

How important are dentists, really? If you survive a ruptured brain aneurysm are doctors checking your teeth along with everything else? As if the doctor would come in to say, “Well, we’ve clipped the aneurysm and once the drugs wear off we’ll need to assess their neurological condition. Could be a couple days, could be a couple weeks. She has zero ability to move the left side of her body and, also, no cavities.”

My mother survived a ruptured brain aneurysm. During one of my nightly turns in the ICU the lovely nurse was switching out plastic bags of medicine and whatnot. To confirm the medicine was going to the correct patient the nurse needed my mother to confirm her birthday.

She won’t be able to tell you, I told the nurse. The damage was specific to the part of the brain that makes you talk.

The nurse repeated she needed my mom to audibly confirm her birth date. She won’t be able to tell you, she can’t speak, I repeated. The nurse bargained for only the month. Then for only the year. “This woman will not be able to tell you her birthday because this woman cannot speak”, I authoritatively said.

“Fine, can you confirm her birthday,” she asked?

Silence. And one dumb look on my face.

Shit. I don’t know my mom’s birthday.

The nurse’s look of disapproval was fierce. I first thought to explain my belief in celebrating accomplishments and not arbitrary calendar dates. This sounded good so I went with it. Unfortunately, it seemed the nurse’s most valued accomplishments involved having her children so the concept got confused.