I know I'm Little Bella Sunshine about my jaw surgery and all, but I won't lie: eating with your jaw wired shut sucks. And I use that term figuratively, not literally, because you're so swollen you can't even suck anything through a straw.
When I was in the hospital, I ate with the aid of this little prop:
Surprisingly, this device was not used to impregnate anyone.
Even though the antibiotics had rendered my birth control pills impotent.
That syringe was my lifeline. I would suck the liquid/mush through the tube, and then squirt it into the side of my mouth. In the hospital, they fed me things like meal replacement drinks, juice, pudding, cream of wheat, soup, etc. And then I had friends like Laura, who smuggled in Booster Juice, and Karen, who brought a delightful iced chai latte. Those drinks were absolute heaven and helped me make it through until I could go home and eat what I wanted.
The drive home from The Big City took more than two hours. Because a liquid diet doesn't stay with you long, I was absolutely ravenous by the time we pulled up to my place. I dreaded having to make some food. I was tired and achy and hungry and I just wanted something easy.
Then, I opened my screen door, and nestled inside was a Booster Juice with a nice little card from my friend The Bee. It was as though the heavens opened up and a choir of angels was singing just for me. That woman is getting the best birthday present from me this year, that's for sure.
Unfortunately, after that point, eating got a lot more challenging.
I began with the best of intentions: my freezer full of organic, vegan soups. I thought these would be what I'd be eating the entire time my jaw was wired shut, but it didn't work that way at all. I tried to eat them through my Zip-n-Squeeze bags, but the soups were too thick. I thinned them down with more broth, but they still got stuck in my wires. I realized that I would have to strain them to be able to eat them, but just thinking about straining all of that great fibre out of the soups seemed...wrong. I just couldn't bring myself to do it; it stressed me out. So, I shelved the soups until my jaw was unwired and I could appreciate them in all their glory.
My next attempt at "healthy food" was also a dismal failure. At the hospital, the dietitian had said something about blending oatmeal. She said to put it in the blender before mixing the water in, but I can't seem to follow instructions for some reason. Instead, I made the oatmeal and then put it through the blender with some milk and brown sugar and plopped it into a Zip-n-Squeeze bag. Bad idea. The blended oatmeal concoction turned into a gluey mess that barely squeezed through the tube. And it was much less appetizing than it sounds, trust me.
At this point, I turned to foods I knew I could get through the wires: Boost (with extra protein), yoghurt, pudding, hot chocolate, chai lattes, applesauce, juice, and commercial soups without chunks, like cream of tomato and cream of mushroom (put through the blender, of course), all supplemented with skim milk powder for extra protein.
Anytime I would deviate from the above list, my wires would get clogged with food and I'd be in the bathroom with my new boyfriend, Larry the WaterPik (I had moved far beyond George by this point.) I don't know how I could have done it without him.
Even with the "easy to eat foods", it took me about half-an-hour to eat anything. A cup of pudding. 30 minutes. A bowl of soup. 30 minutes. And in that time, about half of the food would end up on me. My lower lip and chin were numb from the surgery, so I wasn't able to feel where the spoon was going, or that there was food all over my face. The boyfriend got no end of amusement from this. Two-year-olds eat with far more panache than I did. In two weeks, I did more laundry than I had in the past three months.
Less than a week after the surgery, the boyfriend and I went to one of those sub sandwich places that also serves soup. I ordered the broccoli cheese soup. It seemed that it would work and I was looking forward to eating out like a normal person again.
The soup was quite chunky, so I picked out the bigger pieces with a fork and tried to eat around the rest of the vegetable pieces, slurping the creamy part off a spoon with my upper lip. After awhile, my wires got clogged (as usual) and I had to go to the restroom to brush some of it out.
When I came back, I decided to lift the bowl up closer to my mouth. Instead of lifting it straight up, I spilled it all the way down the front of my sweater. Fortunately, I jumped a bit, so it didn't end up in my lap, but rather all over the booth I was sitting in. Always a class act, that Bella. I was so frustrated, I almost burst into tears.
This was not going well at all. In my first week wired shut, I lost five pounds. Not that I'm complaining about that, but I knew that I needed to get my protein and calories in for my body to heal.
One day, I lost it and scooped peanut butter out of the jar and rubbed it against my wires, trying to suck it through my teeth. It kinda worked. But not really.
Another day, I melted down a chocolate bar and slurped it from a spoon.
I finally got so frustrated about getting food in me that I went to the grocery store and bought:
- Whole milk
- Cheese cake mix
- Chocolate whipped cream
The second week, I don't think I lost any weight at all. Particularly once I rediscovered root beer floats made with Häagen-Dazs ice cream. Mmmmmm.
I think my naturopath had a mild aneurysm when I told her what I'd been eating for those weird wired weeks.
Ah, well. I survived, didn't I?