Day 24: Eat It

Coming back from yesterday’s tangent, we find ourselves back in my comfy chair, where I’ve spent less and less time in the past week. Despite being more or less “back to normal”, it’s still pretty draining working 8 hours, even if it’s just a less comfortable chair I sit in there. Concentration takes a whole lot of effort. I’m doing what I can.

I’m finding myself more and more willing to try swallowing larger bits of unmixed soup (or cherries in my yogurt) whole. I am not supposed to chew yet, and the splint makes mashing food against the roof of my mouth difficult, so I tend to just swallow things that get in my way. It’s made needing a perfect blend a non-requirement. But I will say this – I’m getting REAL tired of soup. I don’t have very many smoothies, but I feel if I did I’d simply be getting tired of smoothies quicker too. I’ll try being more adventurous tomorrow.

Which brings us to my new segment:

DOES IT BLEND?

Not to be confused with that series of videos where a blender manufacturer would stick random items (cell phones, small woodland creatures) into a blender to see if the machine could handle it. This is the informational segment where I tell you if it’s worth blending foods that clearly aren’t meant to be blended so you can eat them before your jaws are ready to chew. My first foray was lasagna, and that was a reserved success. I wouldn’t eat it every meal, but once it day it was certainly passable (with PLENTY of liquids to make it drinkable). 

Yesterday’s experiment was good ole-fashioned stuffing. It was made for us by one of Ash’s colleagues and Ash couldn’t have any because of the celery. So I got to try blending it. I mixed it on about a 1:1 ratio with chicken stock and blended it up, then heated it. The result was, at first, a rousing success. The flavor was just like Thanksgiving dinner if things got REALLY out of hand. However, by the second cup (I split my portions into two cups so I can heat it quicker), the texture started to become bothersome. Being a bread-based food, the drink version had the unique pleasure of being extremely dry. Not dry as in a good dry Beaujolais Nouveau (French for “you’ll have to Google how to spell this”). It literally felt like I was drinking a loaf of bread. The flavor was great; the texture? Not so much. I might need a “tackier” mixer like milk next time. 6/10.

I was recently asked if this recovery period will possibly influence my diet after I’m fully recovered. It was a good question. The only thing I can be sure of is – I may never have another soup again as long as I live.

PAIN: 1

INCONVENIENCE: 5

REGRET FACTOR: 1

Day 22: Back in the Saddle

Showing off that my cheeks are still chubby.
Showing off that my cheeks are still chubby.

I’ve had a number of subtitles that are song titles. I think I’m accidentally ripping off Susan’s gimmick.

Yesterday marked the 3 week hurdle, meaning I was back to work. Work’s pretty nuts right now on a number of levels, so going in for a few hours a couple of days last week was essential to not be drowning this week. Fortunately I’m caught up and doing okay. It’s hard to go from 8 hours (really 12 hours) of playing video games and not exercising my brain whatsoever to having to be, you know, responsible for stuff. It’s mentally draining. I’m trying to take frequent breaks, but I was never good at that even when healthy.

If nothing else, eating causes built-in breaks. In the old days, I had a pretty strict eating regiment. I’d eat breakfast usually between 8 and 9 each morning. Lunch would usually be between 11:30 and 12. Dinner would be anywhere from 5:30-6:30. Now, with me eating a liquid diet and my stomach growling every couple of hours, I eat more like an infant. So I’m in the kitchen every so often (you know, like most infants are), getting another Boost/Ensure or making a smoothie or blending up a soup. And then eating takes a while, especially when I take off my bands, because that is a process, as is brushing/Waterflossing and putting the bands back on. For the record, I prefer Boosts in general over Ensures, though the strawberry Ensure is probably my favorite overall. This is very important if, for some reason, you are kidnapped and the person only has protein-rich supplement drinks available for you.

My speech is coming along, or as I just typed, my scheep is coming along. Without the bands, I’m pretty easily understandable (though I still am pretty quiet – I hope I haven’t lost my swarthy bass tones!) With bands on, I’m still understandable, but in a more bargle-nawdle-zouss sort of way (most people who are close friends with me should really get that reference). I imagine in 3 weeks when the bands come off and the splint is out, I’ll be back in shape.

Which is sad. Part of why I’m productive right now at work is I don’t have to be on phones. Anyone who knows me knows I hate the phone – I inherited that from my dad. If I could only email/IM for the rest of my life, that’s how I’d communicate. So maybe I’ll have to have some “unforeseen recovery difficulties” with speech. And I’m TOTALLY going to pretend that people from my workplace don’t read this blog regularly. Including my direct supervisor, even though he told me he does. So yeah, probably not gonna be able to speak for a year or more! CRAZY!

Anyway, sleep is happening more regularly, eating is less laborious, breathing is fine. I’m still pretty wiped after the day is done, and I’m only just getting into the regular swing of things (today was the first day I woke up early to drop my son off at school). But other than not being able to talk or chew, things are sorta back to normal. NOTE: THOSE ARE REALLY BIG CAVEATS!

Finally, I can officially brush all of my teeth (at least the parts that aren’t behind the splint). And it is fabulous.

PAIN: 1

INCONVENIENCE: 5

REGRET FACTOR: 1

The most recent ortho pictures EVER!? I couldn’t believe #9!!!!

Just because *I’ve* made it a rule never to click on click-baiting headlines like this doesn’t mean nobody else does. So yeah, it may not be Buzzfeed worthy, but check out what’s going on with my teeth. First, a comparison of where we’re at from the inside:


Xray1 2014-05-07Xray1 2015-10-07

 

Xray2 2014-05-07 Xray2 2015-10-07

The change is pretty astounding. My teeth have undergone a pretty crazy transformation already, and I haven’t even gotten to the major stuff (except, perhaps, that I have 8 fewer teeth than when I started).

What they’re working on now is two things – the major one is that the top teeth need to be angled a little different, a little away from the bottom teeth (which is funny since up until now, everything they did were to rein those top teeth in). This is really the major thing that *could* push back the surgery date. The other thing they’re working on is rotating one of my lower back teeth. This isn’t necessary for the surgery, but will have to get done anyway, and they can do it concurrently with torquing the top teeth, so why not?

Today the surgeon Dr. M will be getting molds and will be performing “mold surgery” on them to see if all the jigsaw pieces will fit like he hopes. So, I had hoped to get confirmation today that Dec. 21 will be the surgery date, and I do not have that confirmation yet.

However, I have the ortho Dr. O extremely happy with my progress. He seems optimistic about the Dec 21 date, but really, he doesn’t have final say. The surgeon does. Here’s a picture of how far one set of my teeth has come in exactly 17 months, which also provides a glimpse into what it’s like to be missing a whole bunch of teeth:

Teeth5 2014-05-07Teeth5 2015-10-07

 

Also pretty amazing. It’s contrasting pictures like this that make me happy I’m doing this procedure. If nothing else, I’ve actually started using my front teeth to chew a little bit, and this isn’t even where my teeth will end up.

But now I feel like we’re racing against the clock. Why am I so insistent on a December surgery? Two reasons, really:

1) Ash has her winter break for 3 weeks starting on that day. Since we won’t be able to have my family in town to help, it’s going to be a brutal recovery and Ash will be as worn down as me, probably more. If she weren’t on break, it really wouldn’t be feasible for a typical recovery as I will need someone by my side, at least for the first week. So without her break, she’d have to take a few weeks off of work, which we don’t really want for a myriad of reasons.

2) I found out last week that Dr. M the surgeon is retiring at the end of December. So if I go on as scheduled, I’ll be one of the last, if not the last, patient he performs this procedure on. The surgeon isn’t really old – I’d peg him as maybe 60, but he’s been doing this for 30-35 years or so. It’s good that he’s retiring, but NOT BEFORE HE WORKS ON ME! Part of why I agreed to this procedure is because I liked and trusted him so much. Yes, he has a partner that is probably also very good, but there’s no doubt I want M to do the procedure, and Dr. O today also confirmed that would definitely prefer that I have Dr. M do it as well.

So the nerves continue. And also, I see pictures like this:

 

Face3 2014-05-07Face3 2015-10-07

Wow, my teeth are definitely looking pretty great right now. So why do I even bring up this comparison? Well, this is the first time I’ve really noticed just how much weight I’ve put on in the last 17 months. It’s been something I’m consciously doing in preparation for the surgery. Or at least, that’s what I’m telling myself. I totally abandoned my work-out regiment at the start of the year, have been eating pretty crappily ever since and not working it off. I’ve more or less stopped playing disc golf (my only real regular exercise) and have been going to PT for my back.

Suffice to say I’m not exactly happy with how I look in this picture. The double-chin I’m less concerned about, because actually I really don’t have a first chin (you can’t see it with this picture, but my profile pictures show that I really don’t have a chin). I’m *hoping* that the surgery will correct this a little. I don’t have unrealistic expectations – I’ve noticed in my research that underbites tend to see a pretty significant aesthetic difference after the surgery, whereas overbites are far more subtle. I’ll have a little more of a chin, but without him putting an implant there, it isn’t going to look a whole lot different.

So this parlays into how I feel about myself going into this. I’m not doing it for aesthetics, but I don’t like my look in profile. I DO like my smile more now than before, but I realized the crookedness of my teeth had less to do with my image issues than the shape of my jaw and chin in profile. I’m also not happy about letting myself get really out of shape.

Starting November 1, I’m going to cut out soda (again), cut out fast food (again), try to eat better (again), and try to work out more (again). I’m not setting rigid goals like in the beginning of the year, b/c once I broke the first one of those, I allowed myself to waterfall in breaking all the other ones. Just general health goals. I don’t like flabby me as much as less-flabby me.

I also had my very first dream, or even part of a dream, about my surgery. I was looking at a grainy album cover that had some poor sap with a huge round wedge in his mouth, unconscious. Then it sorta morphed into a video of the same, and someone squeezing a flat tube above the wedge. I was told it was how that person was able to breathe. I, in the dream, did a “gasp for air” that I do in real life when demonstrating why it is I’m having this procedure done. I wonder if I actually did gasp for air in real life. I’ll have to ask the missus. It wasn’t a particularly bad or scary dream, but I imagine they will be coming with more frequency.

I *should* find out anywhere from tomorrow to next week if I’m going to hit the Dec 21 window for surgery. Keep some body parts crossed, especially if they’re fun parts to cross. Let’s do this!