Receding Gums, and a Life Story That Inspires

Receding Gums, and a Life Story That Inspires
A Lump in the Road column “We didn’t have indoor plumbing,” Claudia told me. She was inches from my face, holding a weird-looking camera to my gums as I pulled my cheeks into slightly painful, awkward positions with an equally awkward fork-like tool. “Got it,” Claudia said, clicking the camera. “Now we’ll get the other side.” I was at the periodontist, a gum doctor, relaxing in the most comfortable chair I had ever experienced. I sat there wondering why the people who create dental chairs can’t be in charge of airplane chairs, too. My feet were propped up, and my head was positioned so I could see clouds floating in a picture-blue sky. It was almost enough to make me forget why I was there. Claudia took photos of my deteriorating gums, a condition that is problematic without serious intervention. And yes, this ordeal will be costly. While she clicked, she told me stories about her life. “I’m the youngest of five kids,” she said, “and my mom was single.” During summers, Claudia and her siblings stayed with their grandparents in rural Mexico, where indoor plumbing was not available. “Sometimes we even had to use leaves as toilet paper.” I looked at this elegant woman, her complexion, which was inches from mine as she did her work, absolutely flawless. She spoke perfect English without the trace of an accent, and manipulated complicated equipment while carrying on a fascinating conversion. Before chemo, my gums were fine. Or at least, they were good enough. But now,
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