This evening (by which I mean Monday, July 6), I acquired three large carrots, weighing a full pound among them and ate them. My jaw handled them just fine, but I was concerned about my repaired front teeth, so tried to bite with my side teeth. This was somewhat challenging because it was hard to open my mouth wide enough to fit the thicker parts of the carrots into the side of my mouth. However, I did eventually succeed in eating all three carrots, allowing me to answer in the affirmative the question of whether it is possible for me to eat so many carrots as to make me feel sick. Fortunately, I’m feeling better already, though.
When the oral surgeon took my arch bars out, he told me that I’d be able to resume eating the hardest foods “some time around the fourth of July.” Obviously that was an approximate date, but it seemed as good a day as any, so yesterday I acquired a bag of eight Royal Gala apples. Originally, I was planning on saving them for breakfast, but I got hungry around midnight, so I ate one at about 12:05AM and another a few minutes later. I had another one for breakfast, and just finished another one a few minutes ago. So far, I haven’t had serious problems with my jaw, although with the first couple there was some pain on the right side (opposite the fracture). My repaired teeth also seem to have handled it fine.
In other news, I took a ride back to the scene of my accident this morning. I’ll write about my visit as soon as I can, but there’s actually quite a bit to say about it, so the post might not make it up for a day or two.
The last thing I ate before my accident was about 90% of an Iced Gingerbread Clif Bar. I had purchased 30 of the seasonal flavor Clif Bars at the Grocery Outlet the day before (for $0.59 each), and I brought one along for my ride. I ate most of it at the first regroup, about five miles before my accident. The remaining 10% survived the accident, so I put it in my freezer with the rest of my perishable foods.
This afternoon, seven weeks and a few hours after I opened the Clif Bar, I removed the little remaining piece from the freezer and left it out for a few hours to allow it to thaw. After thawing, it was hard enough that I didn’t want to bite into it directly, so I broke it into small pieces, which I allowed to soften in my mouth before chewing. I think it was a little bit harder than a normal Clif Bar, but it tasted fine.
My diet has been pretty much normal for the last few days. There are still things I can’t eat, but these things are few enough that I don’t really notice them.
Yesterday, I made a Tofu Kale Stir-fry which has been good except that I was too lazy to devein my kale, so it is a bit chewier than I would like my jaw to have to handle. I’ve also eaten various vegetables, some udon noodles, some seitan, and I haven’t had a problem with any of it.
I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the way the food I froze after the accident has turned out. I’ve had a couple of sandwiches on the bread I threw in the freezer, and I can’t even tell that the bread has been frozen. I’ve left the Chickpea Cutlets in the freezer, though. I’m guessing those are still too hard.
When I went to the oral surgeon’s office today, I was surprised that he didn’t do anything–save asking me how I was feeling–to verify that I was ready to chew again. There was no x-ray and no poking or prodding of the site of the injury. I now have medical clearance to chew everything except for “super-hard” foods. This class of excluded foods includes beef jerky, crisp apples, peanuts, pretzels, hard French bread, and carrots. The oral surgeon assured me that there is still “a ton” of food that I can eat, but my jaw just isn’t ready for the harder foods yet. I assured him that I wasn’t feeling psychologically ready for those foods yet either. Even though my jaw had felt strong for a while, I couldn’t imagine testing it on something hard yet.
The surgeon only looked at my mouth to see how far I could open it without the rubber bands, which I will no longer have to wear. He said that I still had some work to do, and he explained that in the next six weeks, we would be working on getting my mouth to open further and straighter. He instructed me to spend a couple of minutes a day just opening and closing my mouth in the mirror, making sure my chin remains straight. I’ll be returning to the oral surgeon in about three weeks, and he said that he’ll give me some more specific exercises to do if my jaw isn’t back to normal by then.
On my way back to campus from the oral surgeon’s office, I stopped for a falafel sandwich. I’ve tended to eat out very infrequently since starting graduate school, but this seemed like as good a time as any to splurge. The only difficulty in eating the falafel was getting it into my mouth, which required me to squeeze the (rather thick) sandwich a little bit. It was late to be eating lunch, and I was hungry, so I chewed and ate it quickly.
Since the first meal, I’ve been munching on various things. I’ve had a couple of different kinds of cookies, a frozen burrito, and a Trader Joe’s Spicy Spinach Pizza. The (cheeseless) pizza had been in my freezer since the week of the accident, and I found it to be a bit chewier than the ones that haven’t been frozen, so I took care to let it start to dissolve in my mouth before I chewed it. I would have liked to start cooking, but I didn’t have ingredients for anything until after I completed a shopping trip, and by then, it was late, and I was hungry. I’ll make a celebratory meal tomorrow, though.
I mentioned yesterday that I was making a No-Bake Black Bottom-Peanut Butter Silk Pie when my blender died last night. I had to adjust the recipe a little bit, mainly because I don’t have a pie dish. I just used a cake/brownie pan. I probably wouldn’t have tried this substitution if it required baking, but (as the name suggests) it didn’t. The dessert didn’t finish setting until early morning, so I went to bed without having tried my creation.
During the day I was able to confirm that my blender died for a noble cause. This pie was pretty amazing (and perfect for somebody who can’t chew). I don’t really know what else to say.
For dinner, I made a lasagna using the Cashew Ricotta from Veganomicon (and Follow Your Heart Mozzarella). The taste probably wasn’t exactly like diary-based ricotta, but the cheese was incredibly rich and delicious. I used the new blender to prepare the ricotta, and it seemed to work well, although I never made the recipe with the old blender, so I can’t compare. I was somewhat concerned that the lasagna noodles might require chewing, so I boiled them for a long time before using them, even though they supposedly didn’t need to be boiled at all. I also wanted to make sure that the top layer of noodles didn’t dry out in the oven, so I only baked the lasagna for as long as it took me to clean up the mess that I had made, which I’m going to guess took about 20 minutes. The result was a great meal (plus plenty of leftovers). It was rich, creamy, and delicious, and the noodles were soft enough to cut into smaller pieces and swallow without chewing.
I also wanted to get some vegetables in my diet, so I made a smoothie with some spinach (and frozen blueberries for flavor). I was impressed that the new blender tore the spinach to shreds in just a few seconds. There’s no way my old blender would have done that job so quickly.
Incidentally, I thought about posting pictures of my food. I decided against it because I don’t put much effort into making my food look good. Furthermore, my apartment has devolved into a cluttered mess since the accident, and I’d prefer not to be posting photographs of that mess. Anyway, this isn’t a food blog but a blog that sometimes mentions food, so I don’t see pictures being necessary.
Late this morning, I headed out for Costco to exchange my recently departed blender. I had purchased the old one on February 15th and used it lightly until I broke my jaw and heavily thereafter. Although I’ve gotten to the point where I can go a day without a blender, I wanted to get a replacement today for a recipe I wanted to make (more on that in a later post).
I knew that many stores wouldn’t let me return something that was so heavily used, but I had heard that Costco had a generous return policy. In fact, this was a reason for my choosing to buy the blender at Costco originally. My local Costco isn’t very easily accessible by public transportation, so I’ll usually make us of my City CarShare membership on the rare occasion that I want to go there. For this trip, I reserved a car for 10:45 at El Cerrito Plaza, a little less than a mile from the Richmond Costco, which would open fifteen minutes later. In my past visits, I had found Costco to be exceedingly crowded, so I hoped to avoid the rush by going early.
Costco certainly wasn’t empty when I got there, but it was certainly less crowded than the other times I’ve been there. I didn’t even have to wait in line to make my return, which was a nice surprise. The guy behind the counter took a look at the box I was returning, and said, “Uh oh. What happened to the box?” It was certainly a reasonable question to ask, as the box had torn and then been taped along one of the edges. I explained that it had been raining the day I bought it. In fact, there was a bit more to the story. My trip to buy the blender had also been one of the few in which I had relied on public transportation, and I had walked from Costco to El Cerrito Plaza carrying the blender. By the time I arrived, the box was thoroughly soaked, and had torn in a few places. It had taken a lot of tape for me to prepare it for the return. The employee didn’t need these details, though. He asked only one more question, “Are all the pieces in here?”, and I answered in the affirmative.
Much to my surprise, I received a cash refund for the blender. I had paid with an American Express card, the only credit card that Costco accepts, and a card I only have because the $50 discount I received for signing up for it exceeded the $40 annual fee for the first year. I would have been happy to have my card credited, or even to get a store credit, but the cashier just handed me cash, and I certainly can’t complain about that.
I then went to look at the blenders on the shelf, and selected an Oster Counterforms blender. I had done some research last night and seen that it sold for $89.99 on Amazon, but in my Costco store, the price was only $49.99. I didn’t really know what to look for in a blender, but it seemed like a good deal, and I knew that Oster had made the blender that has served my mother well over the years, after she inherited it from her grandmother. The package advertised that this blender could be used for chopping food, but I’m skeptical of this claim.
Just looking at the blender, it seemed like the Oster was a significant upgrade from the old Duet. The price is actually ten dollars cheaper, but it doesn’t have the Duet’s food processor unit. Not only does it have a better blade and a more powerful motor, but the jar seems to be crafted more intelligently. The jar of the Duet was much wider than the blade, except at the very bottom of the jar, and there was a tendency for solid foods to slide down the edge of the jar but not make it to the blade. With the Oster, the sides of the jar slope inwards the whole way, and solids and liquids slide nicely back down to the blade to be further broken apart or mixed.
I’ve used my blender a couple of times this evening, and it does seem like it blends things faster and better than the Duet ever did, but I’ll get to that in a later post about food.