Archive | April, 2009

More eating wirelessly

30 Apr

I had a nice breakfast of oatmeal today. It was probably the closest thing to a normal meal I’ve had in a while. I did cook it for a little bit longer than the package directions so that I’d be more comfortable swallowing it without chewing.

As I slurped my oatmeal and tried to plan my next meals, I realized that my refrigerator and cabinets are badly prepared for this diet. I bought several bags of pasta last weekend in anticipation of my upgrade to wireless, but with my no-chew diet, those will have to be blended. This is not to say that it can’t be done, but it will take some time. Somehow, I also allowed myself to run out of soy yogurts, even though I usually keep those on hand  regardless of my diet. My supply of Vega, which I had not intended to continue using after the wires came out, is also very low.

For lunch, I packed a smoothie. Not having soy yogurt, I used soy protein powder, almond milk, peanut butter, and frozen berries. It was a very chalky, which I attributed to the soy protein powder, although I don’t recall the powder doing that to the smoothies I made before my supply of Vega arrived. I also planned on using a serving of Vega upon my arrival in the office. With the smoothie and the Vega and a few leftover brownies from yesterday, I made it through the long teaching day. I was certainly hungry when I got home just before 7:30, but not unbearably so.

For dinner, I had a can of refried beans. Yes, I had the whole can, and I ate it directly from the can with nothing to accompany it. It took almost 40 minutes to eat the can of beans because I can still only open my mouth wide enough to take very small spoonfuls. Occasionally, upon sucking on a spoonful of beans, I’d feel a little bit of pain in my left jaw. I washed the beans down with another smoothie, this one containing almond milk, frozen blueberries and mango, and peanut butter. With my dinner, I also started taking the calcium supplement I bought before the surgery. I didn’t take it while I was wired because I figured I was getting enough calcium between the Vega and the enriched milks. Now that I’ll probably be taking less of the Vega, and I can swallow tablets, I decided I might as well take the calcium supplement.

For dessert, I had some more brownies leftover from yesterday and a whole lot of Purely Decadent. The brownies seem to be getting a bit harder, so I don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to eat them. I really don’t have all that many left (perhaps a third of the recipe), but I don’t feel the slightest bit ashamed of my gluttony.

Wireless eating

29 Apr

In anticipation of my upgrade to a wireless jaw, I went to the office this morning with a number of foods I thought I’d be able to eat. For a late lunch, I had brought the remains of the tamarind lentils–unblended–that I made on Saturday. For snacks, I brought some golden nugget mandarins, a couple of mangoes, a bag of Tings and some brownies I made early this morning to celebrate the occasion.

The lentils, I realized were too solid to eat without chewing. Had I used brown lentils, I might have had a chance at  slurping them, but I had used French lentils, which keep their shape better.

The first thing I actually ate wirelessly were the brownies. I used a recipe from Don’t Eat off the Sidewalk, which I had made once before. It was a perfect recipe for the occasion in that the brownies, aside from being delicious had a melt-in-your-mouth consistency, which was perfect for somebody unable to chew. I hadn’t anticipated the difficulty in opening my mouth, but I found that by breaking the brownies into large crumbs, I was able to enjoy them.

I then had a few of the Tings. They aren’t particularly soft, but, they’re full of air, so they dissolve after sitting in the mouth for a few seconds.

That was all I ate before I took all of my leftover food home. At home, I had some pasta with sauce, but with a little bit less sauce, and blended slightly less than yesterday. While eating the pasta, I realized I was out of practice with using a fork. Often, I’d raise a forkful of food to my mouth, only to have the fork stop when it hit my teeth. After finishing the pasta, I blended the lentils, but not quite as much as the last few days.

For dessert, I had some brownies with Purely Decadent vegan ice cream. I had stocked up on the ice cream at the Grocery Outlet (for $1.49 a pint!) while I was wired, but found that the flavors I had gotten (So Very Strawberry and Chunky Mint Madness) were not suitable for consumption through a straw.

At least so far, it seems like the expansion of my diet with the removal of the wire is not particularly great. I may even end up having another smoothie tonight.

Mandible liberation

29 Apr

I don’t think I’ve ever been as excited to go to a dentist as I was today. As I walked there, I started to feel nervous, though.  What if I were to open my mouth for the first time in three weeks and hear my jaw break again? I tried my best to forget about this thought.

When I got to the oral surgeon’s office, the receptionist recognized me and was ready with a waiver for me to sign for the procedure. I signed the waiver, which warned me about a number of things, many of which should have been irrelevant to this procedure (i.e. dry socket). A woman whom I hadn’t seen in the office before took me back to a room with a dentist’s chair and asked if I had any questions. I asked what my diet should be like with the wire off, and she said I should stick to soft foods, which didn’t surprise me. She had me sit down in the chair and asked if I wanted nitrous oxide. I asked if I needed it, and she said the surgeon would need to numb me for the procedure.

Just then, the surgeon walked in through the door, and said, “No, I don’t. She’s lying.” He explained to her that he was only taking off the wires fastening my jaw shut, and not the “arch bars”, which I gathered were the braces on my upper and lower jaws. He assured me that the procedure would be painless, and he wouldn’t even have to touch my gums. He went on to add, “You know what is going to hurt? When you try to open your mouth.” He explained that this was because I hadn’t used the muscles in my jaws for three weeks, and he compared it to the pain of getting up off the couch after sitting there without moving for three weeks. I didn’t tell him this, but I felt that the analogy was a failure because I had never sat on the couch for that long. He did, at least, tell me that it would get better relatively quickly, and I wouldn’t need to do any jaw exercises.

In any case, he looked into my mouth, and told me he was impressed  by how clean it was. “Hygiene is important,” he said, “It plays a big role in how you feel about yourself.” My self esteem has never been tied to my oral hygiene, but perhaps that’s because I don’t have a degree in dentistry. He then cut off the wires, and told me, “You’re a free man.” I started to get up out of the chair, but then he said, “You can open your mouth,” and I realized what he had meant. So I opened my mouth nice and wide, and somehow it didn’t hurt. Then I opened it a little bit wider and it hurt quite a bit, so I closed it again. I opened my mouth again, this time stopping before I felt any pain, and then slowly closed my mouth again. On the left side, my teeth felt soft against each other, but I hoped that this was just because I was unaccustomed to my top and bottom teeth moving relative to each other.

The oral surgeon explained that my bones will be considered to have healed in three weeks, and for the intervening time, I’ll have rubber bands in my mouth. As for eating, I’m not allowed to chew; the rule is that if I can slurp it, I can eat it. He warned me against Wonderbread (in which I have no interest, even not knowing whether it’s vegan) with peanut butter and jelly because that requires chewing. He listed a number of foods I can eat, including refried beans and rice, pasta, and mashed potatoes. I’m skeptical of his claim that pasta and rice can be eaten without chewing (unless blended), but I should be able to find enough to eat without his suggestions. After three weeks, I’ll be able eat some foods that require chewing, but apples will still be too hard. I’m also free to have my dentist repair my chipped teeth now.

The oral surgeon had his assistant give me toothpaste and a children’s toothbrush and instructed me to brush my teeth and my tongue while he went and did something else. The toothpaste, of course, was the non-vegan Crest, but I used it because I didn’t have my own toothpaste with me. I brushed the outsides of my teeth as I have been doing for the last few weeks, but when it came time to brush my tongue and the insides and tops of my teeth, I realized that I wasn’t able to open my mouth enough for the toothbrush (even being a children’s size) to fit through. I ended up having to settle for cleaning those parts of my mouth by rinsing. I might be a free man, but only in the sense that somebody who gets out of prison and put on house arrest is free. I’m more free than in the immediate past, but I’ve had better.

After I had cleaned my mouth, the surgeon showed me how to hook rubber bands onto the braces, which he explained were to make sure my teeth are “in the right ZIP code.” I can take the rubber bands out, but only when eating or brushing my teeth.

He told me I should come back to check in with him in two weeks. He isn’t planning on doing anything except taking a look at my mouth then, but he said that he’d have to wire it shut again if my teeth were in the wrong place. I was relieved to hear that he’s only had to do that once, but it didn’t occur to me at the time to ask how many patients he’s treated with this kind of injury.

After a quick stop at the front desk to schedule my appointment, I was on my way back to my office.

Mission accomplished (within margin of error)

29 Apr

I stopped by a university gym early this afternoon to weigh myself and see whether I had succeeded in my challenge. My weight was 152 pounds after emptying my pockets. This represents a loss of three pounds from my baseline reading. This is within the normal range of fluctuations of human weight, and given that the readings were taken on different scales, I’ll declare myself more or less successful.

Whole grains, at last

28 Apr

It took me until my last seventeen hours wired, but I finally got some grains into my diet. I poured some pasta sauce into my blender and then added a bit of whole wheat pasta. I don’t remember the exact amounts, but I think that it probably about a cup of cooked pasta (rigatoni) and perhaps a little bit less sauce by volume. I turned on the blender for several minutes before adding a little bit of water to thin it out. I tested to see that it would pass through a straw and into my mouth before adding a little bit of nutritional yeast and blending for a few more seconds.

The taste isn’t great. The tomato flavor is very much stronger than I would like because it’s more sauce than I’d usually use for this amount of pasta, but I’m glad to have solved the problem of how to imbibe some whole grains, even if the practical significance is minimal at this point.

The accident scene revisited

28 Apr

This morning, before catching a bus to the office, I revisited the scene of my accident, thanks to the wonders of Google Street View. I hadn’t expected to be able to find it, partly because I wasn’t sure of the location, and partly because I didn’t expect to remember the scenery. However, I did have a map of the route for the ride I was on that day, and the accident scene turned out to be in the place along the route that I guessed first. The scenery, it turned out, was actually quite memorable, perhaps because I spent plenty of time staring at it while I waited to be taken to the hospital.

The most surprising thing about the scenery, aside from my memory of the view, was that it looks like it really wasn’t much of a hill I was coming down. I knew it wasn’t one of the steeper hills I’ve experienced, but I was still surprised at just how slight the incline was. Although the possibility occurred to me that incline may have just been difficult to detect in the pictures, Google’s terrain map suggests that the grade might be a little above 5%. My walking map of Oakland puts the grade in the 6% to 9% range. This is not steep enough that it should have been problematic had I been paying full attention to what I was doing, so I have to suspect that I was not.

Apparently my friends are the problem

28 Apr

Via Google, I found an informational piece about broken jaws. It told me,

Because the most common causes of jaw fractures are the result of motor vehicle accidents and assaults, the best prevention is to drive carefully and choose your friends wisely. A more realistic step that can be taken is wearing protective devices in sporting activities.

If only I had chosen my friends more carefully. . . Seriously, though, are a large proportion of assaults between friends? This is definitely news to me.

Nightmare scenario #2

27 Apr

Lately I’ve had a scenario considerably worse than the first nightmare scenario in the back of my mind. It involves slipping and falling or perhaps twitching in some other way (maybe even just absent-mindedly yawning!) that results in my mouth opening and applying too much pressure to my jaw. As the nightmare goes, the opposing pressures from the muscles and the wires result in another fracture (or even one on each side), leaving me wired for a few more weeks.

I have no idea whether this is even something that could realistically happen, but that’s not going to stop me from worrying about something.

It seemed like a good idea at the time

27 Apr

Lately, I’ve been having trouble catching buses that will get me to campus in time for my 8:10AM class. The general pattern is that I spend too much time blending things for breakfast or to take to the office with me, causing me to miss the last buses that come through the hills (lines 65 and 67) that will get me in on time. These buses only run every half hour, so if I catch them, they’ll get me there with at least 10 minutes to spare. As I said, though, I’ve been tending to miss these buses lately. The result is that I have to walk down the hills to other buses that run more frequently but require more walking on both ends.

Today, it occurred to me that I could save a bit of time by packing my breakfast smoothie in a container, catching the earlier bus, and then drinking my breakfast when I got to the office. In practice, it didn’t work out so well. I ended up missing the hill buses anyway, and when I got to the stop at the bottom of the hills, I saw a bus pulling away. I ended up getting to class six minutes late and hungry.

I still think the problem is more with the execution than the idea itself, but I’ll only have one more opportunity to get it right, assuming I don’t need to blend everything after Wednesday (and I don’t have an early class on Tuesdays). Even Wednesday, I’m hoping I won’t have to pack a full day’s worth of liquid food, since I’m getting the wires off in the middle of the day.

Three week update

27 Apr

Sunday was three weeks after the update, so I might as well post an update on things.

  • I’m no longer wearing any bandages on  anything. This is good because I was almost running out of bandages. The abrasions on my hands and elbows are all but healed, with only small scabs left behind.
  • I still haven’t been successful in shaving my face completely, but I haven’t put much effort into that.
  • The pressure in my left ear has faded considerably over the last few days, which I suppose means that the swelling around the site of the fracture has subsided.
  • I bought a hand blender on Saturday, thinking it would be useful when I was having trouble getting all the lumps out of something with my full blender, but I haven’t found anything to use it on yet. At this point, it was something I could have done without, but I had become somewhat frustrated with having to put things back in the blender to get the last few lumps out.
  • I still haven’t even started looking for shoes to replace the ones that were splattered with blood in the accident and were  falling apart even before that. This is one thing that veganism makes difficult. If I recall correctly, I found my last pair on a site that seems to no longer have its vegan shoe section.
  • I keep forgetting to mention that I was somewhat succesful in pureeing a veggie burger last weekend. It was a Dr. Praeger’s Sensible Foods California Burger, which I had previously noticed would fall apart if microwaved. Usually, of course, I don’t want my burgers to fall apart, but for pureeing this seemed ideal, so I microwaved a burger before throwing it in the blender with some water. It didn’t blend perfectly, and there were plenty of chunks caught in my wires when I finished, but most of it found its way into my stomach. I probably won’t try that again, but I wouldn’t consider it a failure.
  • I continued my streak of masochism by attending two more Earth Week events with vegan food on Thursday. I also had to turn down food samples at the city Earth Day celebration on Saturday. My jaw will be ready for Earth Day next year, though!
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