Sunday, August 7, 2011

6 Days Post-Op: Maximal Food Frustration

Hi. Let me start this one off my reiterating a bit of what I've been tweeting very recently: I would, at this point, do close to anything in the world to sink my teeth into a large, juicy burger with lettuce, tomato, bacon, and thickly-sliced cheddar cheese with a huge pile of fries on the side. Or an overflowing plate of five cheese ziti accompanied by garlicky breadsticks from Olive Garden. Or 10 chicken quesadillas from Taco Bell with sour cream and salsa on the side. Or a crispy fried chicken salad from Zaxby's with honey mustard and that deliciously buttery toast it comes with. Or about 5 slices of Papa John's thick crust Hawaiian barbecue chicken pizza with pineapples, bacon, and no onions.


You honestly don't understand just how many food commercials come on television until you are (for the time being) no longer a potential consumer of the delectable treats they're advertising.  I'm especially irked by DiGiorno and their stupid "pizza AND cookies" deal they have going on now.

Everything I eat at the moment has to fit through a thin little rubber tube that is attached to the end of this cute plastic syringe.  On top of that, nurse at the hospital gave me about 4 or 5 of the wrong size syringes, which means added labor on my part when I use them to eat. So essentially, the process of preparing food, sucking it up into the syringe multiple times throughout feedings, and ensuring none of the contents spill out of the ill-fitting rubber tube burns more calories than I'm even taking in. It's this vicious little cycle of malnourishment.

I've decided that once this is all over with and I'm able to consume actual good food like any normal human being on FORKS and SPOONS (OMG!!!!), I might go on an all-solid diet for a few weeks. No drinks. No milkshakes. No vanilla Carnation Breakfast Essentials. No Starbucks drinks. No tomato soup. No sodas that feel like acid in my throat now. (Seriously...I may be off sodas for the rest of my life. They taste awful in my little syringe and rubber tube, plus they make me burp incessantly. Also, I remember drinking a bit of Sprite in the hospital right before my blood-vomiting excursion. Forgot to mention that little deet in my previous blog post. I basically just upchucked all the blood I had swallowed during recovery - ultimately an inevitable event if I didn't want to become a cannibalistic vampire who consumes my own blood.) And especially no more beef or chicken broth with a packet of dumb flavoring to make it seem halfway appetizing.

Enough griping about my insatiable, raging hunger. Let's list the top 5 strangest sensations and disabilities that I have encountered, being wired shut and partially numb in the face:

1. Not being able to lick your lips because your tongue is barricaded in behind your teeth by wiring - sounds a bit silly, but the body's natural way of keeping the lips properly moisturized is frequent contact with the tongue and its lovely coating of saliva. Not having this ability means I've been slathering my own lips in Nivea - A Kiss of Moisture 10-20 times a day, and they are still not quite as smooth as I would prefer.  I guess I do need to point out that they were stretched beyond their normal limits during the surgery (and I have an abnormally small mouth opening anyway), so they have indeed been under duress recently. I should be cutting them some slack.
But when you sit and think about how often you use your tongue to clean off bits of food and drink from your mouth, it actually is a big deal to have to reach for a napkin instead every time I need to clean my lips.

2. Numbness in the upper gums when you brush - Now I may be wired shut, but I still have to brush the outside surfaces of my teeth twice a day at least. (Medicated mouthwash is my only way to clean the insides - ugh.)  My lower gums have no numbness at all, so this part is fairly normal apart from going around surgical hooks and sutures. On top, however, I temporarily have NO feeling in my upper gums due to the long horizontal incision Dr. McKenna had to make along the gums under my upper lip during surgery. So I have no idea if I'm brushing too hard up top, and I'm afraid I'm battering them with my bristles. The first time I brushed, I thought there was literally some sort of wax or plastic shielding those gums...but nope. Just haven't gained feeling there back yet.

3. Putting on eyeliner when your lower lids are numb. I've only attempted this one time in the 6 days since surgery but man oh man, it was SUCH a strange experience.  First of all, I don't quite understand why that is the ONLY place on my external facial surface that is completely numb.  My cheeks are fine, albeit swollen still, yet my lower lids are without feeling? Anyway, when I tried this it caused some seriously strange and spasmodic sensations in my jaw. Yes, eyeliner was messing with my jaw. So the muscles connected to that little strip of eyelid we like to color on must be directly linked to muscles in the jaw as well.

4. Coughing, sneezing, yawning, and vomiting...with your teeth wired shut. Impossible? NO. Uncomfortable? YES. Especially the vomiting. Sneezing I try to avoid by holding my nose temporarily, which is actually not the smartest way to go since my nose is my only way to breathe with all the barricades in my mouth. Coughing just looks like I'm choking except nobody helps me; they just kind of stare pitifully. And yawning almost hurts due to the pressure being put on my jaws to open.

5. Hallucinations of myself blending up an entire box of pizza to suck up through my syringe. Seriously, I could uh...thin it out with a bit of...tomato juice perhaps?!! Ultimate desperation/borderline insanity. But then I keep thinking back to the blogger who blended up a breadstick and an In-N-Out Burger.........and the person who blended taco salad whom a nurse told me about in the hospital.......hmmm......

ALL IN ALL, I have to admit that I'm beyond thrilled with my new profile that I can see more clearly each day as the swelling steadily subsides. I can't wait to be able to smile with my teeth, even with the braces which I'll keep for a few more months probably. Not entirely sure. And even with my maniacal hunger, I would rather be in this position than destined to go back to my former way of ineffectively eating with an underbite.  I can now look forward to biting straight through a burger or sandwich with just my teeth and not my tongue! Halle-freaking-lujah to that!!!!!!

I will be returning to see my oral surgeon, Dr. Samuel McKenna at Vanderbilt University Medical Center's Department of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, this coming Wednesday. Though I know it's just a checkup, I'm still quite excited to see everyone there (aka encounter those cute residents) again while not drugged up and not swollen quite as big as a watermelon. Everyone is always so polite and complimentary there. I quite enjoy it. :)

Here are a couple of pictures from yesterday:

This is actually a mirror image of my Twitter/Facebook profile picture (Photo Booth is weird!)

A reminder of how I looked from straight on before:

I now cringe to look at pictures like this from before - hate that protruding chin!

AND the before/after (so far) profile shots:

BEFORE with underbite

AFTER (no underbite, but a little swelling)
I'm more than satisfied so far! Thanks for reading. :)

Hungry, hungry hippo-faced blogger,

PS - Who thinks I should get pictures with my surgeon, the adorable residents, and the rest of my friends at the oral surgery clinic when I am finally unwired and not swollen? :)