Sunday, October 7, 2012

3 Day 42. 6 Week Checkup. I CAN EAT AGAIN!! Chewing 101.

This entry is definitely a bit late, but I have been busy.

Busy EATING. At restaurants, At San Francisco Fleet week. At America's cup in San Francisco. At Downtown San Francisco. With many many others. Seriously, 1 million visitors in the city this weekend. Giants game, 49ers, 8 stages of Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival, Castro street fair, Italian parade?, Uniqlo grand opening, etc etc... jealous you don't live here yet?

My 6 week checkup marked the end of my liquid diet. After my surgeon inspected my mouth for 30 seconds ,  our conversation went a little something like this:

Dr. H: "You can start eating. Start out soft, but as long as it doesn't hurt when you try to chew, you are good".
Me: "Does that mean I can eat steak?"
Dr. H: "Well, the soft part of the steak. You need to build up your jaw strength first. After a week, go all out."

I know that his contradicts my recovery forecast in the past, where I stated I will be upgraded to a blended/soft food diet, before moving on to everything else. My best guess is that since I was on a full liquid diet for 6 weeks (instead of 4, followed by blended), my jaw bones have fused sufficiently without interference for me to tackle tougher foods more quickly. This is only my best guess; I do not question my surgeon's wisdom.

However, definitely no hard foods yet. Apples, almonds, pecans, crunchy stuff, I'll be missing you a little longer.

Right after that appointment, I went out to get my first meal with my friend Dylan. Enchiladas -- can't get softer than that, and can't get much more filling than that. (Dish: Enchiladas al sol (con pork) at Palo Alto Sol restaurant).

The photo above shows me happily taking my first bite of solid food in 6 weeks. This joy was actually rather short lived when I realized that I could not chew. After being on a liquid diet for 6 weeks, chewing is no longer a natural task. I had consciously think about the up-down motions, roll the tongue, push the food to the sides, etc, etc. Chewing now will also take effort -- keep in mind the jaws muscles are very weak. Even then, as I chewed, food fell out of my mouth because of my awkward tongue movements and inability to retain food. Partial numbness on the inside of the mouth did not help and soon I had food chunks caught in my braces between my cheeks and gums.

Also, I can open my mouth a little under 2 fingers width apart at this point. I naturally overestimate how wide my mouth is open. When scooping food into my mouth, I would constantly hit my lower lip and chin instead, only to have the food fall right back onto the plate.

While this was all rather hilarious for Dylan, it was extremely frustrating to me. I was essentially a toddler re-learning how to eat.

After this meal, I went to the office and grabbed the softest food I could find: Madeleine's Vanilla cakes. I think even a baby with gums only could eat this. However, I bit my cheeks 5 times eating this pathetic little snack. While not entirely visible, my inner cheeks are still "puffed" from scar tissue (not to be confused with swelling).

The one thing I may actually miss about my liquid diet is..... Ensure nutrition shakes. I have developed a fondness for them, and by fondness I mean cravings.

 In the past 42 days, I have consumed 151 bottles of Ensure shakes. I saved every single one of these bottles too.

While I attempted to build a pyramid out of these, the tapered tops and round-edged caps made stacking a little difficult, so I decided to just build a wide double-decker structure. It's still successful in conveying the sheer amount of Ensure I've had.

In all honesty, I might start stocking up on these as a pantry essential.


  1. I'm almost there! Your post are very funny!

  2. I still can't open my mouth the way I did before. I'm using popsicle sticks to force it open.

    And I don't feel my chin.


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