Sunday, January 24, 2010

Toothless in Seattle.

Friday, after years of putting it off, I had all four wisdom teeth removed, a process involving many, many drugs. I went home with a bottle of some Ensure-like product (theoretically vanilla-flavored) and instructions to eat soft foods, avoid carbonation, drinking through a straw, and smoking. That would be easy. The fridge was stocked with vanilla ice cream and sweet-potato congee. These, along with a bottle of strawberry milk, got me through the first evening, a haze of sweet milky drinks and blood-soaked gauze. My mother laughs at me, because I have no memory of paying for the surgery, or making the follow-up appointment.

Saturday passes in a stream of vanilla milkshakes. I get bored with plain vanilla, and, noticing the instructions to eat "healthy" foods chop up a banana and throw it into the blender. Better. I have a bowl of congee, thick with the starchy sweetness of sweet potatoes, and a bowl of soup made with pork broth and half-moon slices of Daikon radishes. By now I am desperately craving crisp-skinned fried chicken, potato chips, bacon cheeseburgers, all things crunchy and salty. It has only been a day and I am already longing for my sore mouth to heal, even as I remind myself that I am lucky that all I have is a slight soreness, not even worth taking a painkiller.

Sunday, I make myself a banana-chocolate-malt milkshake (delicious) and another bowl of congee. Even though it is all tasty, it begins to pall. I want to chew again. I want to wallow in self-pity. I feel ashamed of my boredom, more so when friends arrive, bearing gifts of soft, tender food. L. brings sopa de malanga, a creamy soup of taro root, its thick sweetness tempered with the bite of garlic. She brings a giant hunk of chocolate cake leftover from her birthday party the day before, so tender, moist, and light it barely qualifies as solid food. While I am spooning down the wonderful soup, the other L. arrives, with homemade butterscotch pudding. It is not too sweet, with the soft smokiness of real Scotch whiskey underscoring the lovely dark taste of brown sugar, and I can't stop eating it, either.

It is such a comforting feeling, warm and somehow humbling, to have people care for you, cook for you, make sure that you have tasty treats that can be eaten without chewing. I feel so grateful for my friends, and my mother, who made me change the date of my surgery so she could be here while I was recovering. I have been so accustomed to being alone and taking care of myself, that to have others stepping in feels like the lifting of a burden I didn't realize existed, and I am so thankful.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well done for going through with it. I kept putting it off (years ago) because I was so frightened of someone digging around in my mouth. In the event I spent a few days in hospital, and one of my students (I taught nurses then) brought me a cadburys Cream Egg to suck on. What bliss! I expect by now you'll have found a way to get those yummy salty crunchy treats eaten! Take care