Thursday, July 30, 2009

Soup! And other foods for toothless people

I finally did it. I got my damn wisdom teeth out. I've been putting it off for over a year now because I was just too terrified. Not of the pain, really- I've had jaw issues stemming from my teeth for years, and I doubted that the post-op pain would be worse than that (I was right.) I was really scared of the IV. I never used to have this huge needle phobia, and I still don't- I'm not thrilled to get a shot, but I can man up a little bit, with minimal tears. Getting blood drawn or having an IV placed is a different story. That shit ain't right. I just don't want anything in my veins; the very thought of it is horrifying to me. I was also terrified of the actual passing out- the counting backwards, that horrible feeling of falling and losing control. It makes me think of the people on Intervention, shooting heroin and then passing out and choking on their puke. Ew. I know it sounds really wussy for me to avoid this surgery that would have saved me a lot of pain and bullshit if I had done it a year ago because I was scared of the IV, but there you go. I even had gone to an oral surgeon at one point and talked about it, but when he told me I couldn't take a Valium before the surgery, I was out of there. But this time my jaw and mouth hurt so bad that my dentist refused to write me any more prescriptions for pain killers or Amoxicillin if I didn't just get them pulled, so I did. I asked them for the nitrous oxide before they even put the IV in, but when she told me, "Your fingers and toes might start to tingle," I started sobbing like I was going to the electric chair and didn't stop until a few hours after my surgery, because you best believe I was STILL CRYING when they woke me up.

Anywho, it does hurt, but nothing that sweet, sweet Vicodin can't control. What does suck is that I can't eat like I want to, and I haven't been able to since Tuesday of last week, when the jaw and wisdom tooth pain started and I stopped being able to open my mouth more than a few centimeters. Everyone knows that post-surgery, especially of the oral kind, you're limited to 'soft foods.' This generally means soup, pudding, and ice cream. For some people, this is really exciting- an excuse to eat all the ice cream you want! Not so for me. First off, if I want some ice cream, I'll just eat some fucking ice cream- I don't need an excuse. And second off, I don't want to eat nothing but ice cream. When I was a kid, I used to love Thursdays because that was the night my very health conscious mother worked late, so I was left with my dad, who doesn't cook. This meant I got to eat fast food. Sometimes, if my mom was out of town for something, I would get to eat as much fast food as I could ever want. As I got older, I realized that I wasn't really doing myself any favors by eating all that fast food. Yeah, it tasted good, but it wasn't worth it in the end. I feel that way about ice cream and junk food now. Yeah, it tastes good, and if I could eat it all the time, I guess I would, but I can't, so waiting until times like this to completely binge on it isn't really going to help me in the long run.

Plus, I'm used to eating healthy. It took me a really long time to get to where I am with my eating- to the point where I prefer to eat fruits and vegetables. I worry that I'm always on the verge of falling off the wagon, though. This week has proven that I am not. I MISS VEGETABLES. I think you can tell how nutritious a food is by its crunchiness. Usually, crunchiness denotes some kind of fiber, or at least a good high water content which means low cal. Watermelon? Apples? Peppers? Brocolli? Carrots? Crunchy. They take awhile to chew. Pudding? Soup? Ice cream? Un-crunchy. Fiberless, soft, and boring. But there is a reason they are recommended- I attempted to eat a salad the day before my surgery and found I was unable to get the fork in my mouth because I couldn't open wide enough, let alone chew the spinach to any sort of swallowable consistency.

Combine this horrible diet with an inability to exercise for my usual amount for a few days (Vicodin, while good at relieving the throbbing and tension, makes me a little sick to my stomach, and my legs sorta weak), plus the fact that I can't have any Coke Zero because I heard carbonation increases your chances of dry sockets, and I am ready to go Charles Manson on someone's ass. Seriously. Don't come to my house unannounced, because chances are I will be sitting on the porch cleaning my gun and looking for my next victim.

This presented a big problem. How do I eat healthy when I can't chew? It hasn't been easy, but I think I did a pretty good job.

1. Lentils. Lentils are miracle food. Packed with fiber, sometimes upwards of 40% of your daily value per serving, as well as lots of protein, they're kind of magic. Something this good should be illegal. And when cooked the right way, they're nice and soft and easy to gum! The way I've been preparing them comes from a recipe courtesy of a cookbook put out by Prevention magazine that I can't recall the name of (check out their cookbooks, though- I have a few and always get them at the library because they have some awesome creative and healthy, as well as easy, recipes.) Bring a cup of chicken stock and a cup of water to boil on the stove. Add 1/2 a chopped onion and a few good shakes of red pepper flakes. Add 1/2 cup of lentils while everything is still boiling. Simmer it, covered, for 20 minutes- if the lentils are dry after 10, add some more water. After 20 minutes, take off the lid, turn the heat on high and boil off the rest of the water if there's any left. Then add a shot of olive oil and some salt, pepper, and oregano. Delicious and soft. I added mushrooms and spinach to mine since my body needed things that had once been in dirt. Yum.

2. Smoothies. I'm not usually a fan of them, even though they taste good, because in general, they are nutritional nightmares. They usually involve some sort of frozen yogurt, hyper-sweetened fruit product, lots of excess milk and maybe a few shakes of protein powder. However, when you make them at home, you can control what you put into them, and save your five bucks that you would have spent on them somewhere else. I needed fruit, so I made smoothies. One I've grown to love is a few good handfuls of blueberries, a handful of frozen strawberries or cherries (or fresh is you have them, though make sure to take out the pits in the cherries), a generous splash of light vanilla soymilk (I like Silk brand), and either a scoop of light Activia vanilla yogurt or a scoop of chocolate protein powder. Voila- fruit, protein, and new chewing. If I had time to clean out my blender every morning, I'd probably drink these for breakfast pretty regularly.

3. Soup. It's a staple. I'm a sucker from french onion soup in particular, but it has to be the kind with a ton of croutons and a layer of cheese an inch thick on the top. I tried as long as I could to hold out on soup because it makes me feel like an invalid, but finally I couldn't take it and asked my dad to pick some up on his way home from work. Bless his heart, he bought all of the soups you use to cook with- cheddar cheese, cream of mushroom, etc. But he did get me a can of Campbell's Select Harvest Garden Recipes Harvest Tomato with Basil soup. I had never had tomato soup before- something about it just didn't seem right to me. It was too much like eating hot tomato juice. But I'll tell you what, it was good, and a bowl of it contains a serving of vegetables! I love anything sneaky like that. Each serving contains 100 calories, 5 from fat, and 2g of fiber and 3g of protein. Not bad for something you can essentially suck up with a straw. I dressed it up with some mozzarella and parmesan and it made a perfectly good breakfast. I'd eat it again, even if I weren't confined to only foods one can put into a feeding tube.

Exercise and the post-op

Unfortunately, I found that after my wisdom tooth-ectomy, I was a little more tired than usual- meaning I was so high on painkiller that I slept all damn day. Add to that the previously discussed shakiness and overall feeling of crap and I didn't do my usual hour of exercise. Luckily, a few weeks ago I bought Get Extremely Ripped with Jari Love. I love me some Jari Love- her DVDs all have titles like 'Get Ripped and Chiseled' or 'Get Ripped 1000' or 'Get Super Mega Hulking Ripped.' And she doesn't disappoint. She does high reps with few breaks and kicks your ass, with a focus on the arms. I especially like Get Ripped 1000 because you do step aerobics in between and by the end I'm so sweaty that I can barely see because it drips into my eyes. Most of her workouts are about an hour, but Get Extremely Ripped is actually 2 different 30 minute segments. I bought it for mornings when I have to do something early and don't have a lot of time; I figured they'd be good for my recovery since they're high intensity but not very long. And I have to say: damn. Just because they're short doesn't mean they don't kick your ass. I was sweatier than someone's swarthy immigrant dad after mowing the lawn (or my own swarthy dad after mowing the lawn.) It's mostly combination moves, with arms and legs, and you can use a step if you have it though there are modifications. I liked the little timer that pops up when you have 30 seconds to go. I don't recommend it for beginners, but I think people who work out occasionally (once or twice a week) might like it for an extra challenge. Do not think that all of her workouts are like this, though- her longer ones generally hit only one body part at a time, so while they are hard, they aren't as sweat-inducing as Get Extremely Ripped.

That's all I got! Comment and tell me if you give a damn about eating healthy when you're sick!

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