It’s Day 13! This past Monday I got my rubber bands put on and my jaw is now tightly shut and in its proper position. We’re not talking wimpy rubber bands, though. I couldn’t open my mouth if I tried. The surgeon says I can probably exchange for less taut bands this coming Monday if I continue to progress nicely. I am still swollen, but now only in my chin, cheeks and lower lip. The transformation is amazing, I can’t recognize myself in the mirror! At this rate, my mother thinks I’m going to need new glasses frames, because my current ones don’t go with my face at all. Which I find hilarious; I distinctly remember picking these particular frames out because they balanced out the angles of my narrow chin.
While there is little physical pain at this stage (if you don’t count the constant nerve tingling in my numb areas), there is still a significant amount of emotional pain. I’m not talking depression, I’m talking food pain. As in, I spend all of my time watching the Food Network and wondering if Tyler’s Ultimate Pork Chops would still be Ultimate if I pureed them in a blender. You see, now that my jaw is banded shut it’s actually easier to eat. That may sound ridiculous; how do you eat if you can’t pry your own teeth apart? But now it’s harder to gag and choke on things. I’m still using my syringe, and it took a while to figure out how to get liquid past my teeth and to my throat, but once you get the hang of it (stick the attachment on the syringe in the corner of your mouth, push, suck) it’s pretty okay. I just have to stay away from liquids with noticeable particles. Seeing as I’m still not allowed to brush yet, that would be extremely counterproductive and rather unhygienic.
In terms of food, I don’t have to drink straight broth and juice, like I did the first week. I can get a little more creative – at least, my mom can get a little more creative. She’s been a big help and makes most of the food :)
Anyhow, there are two particular recipes that I’ve been abusing for the past few days because they are easy to make, easy to eat, they give you a truckload of energy, and they taste good. They are both breakfast drinks, though they are serviceable as lunch or supper, if you prefer.
Akasan Breakfast Shake
Akasan is a Haitian dish made of fine corn flour that’s been cooked, mixed with milk, and seasoned to taste. It is usually eaten or drunk (depending on the preferred consistency) for breakfast. My mother adapted the traditional recipe to something that could be blenderized and easily sucked out of a syringe. It’s one of my favorite breakfast recipes, and thus it was greatly missed for the period that I wasn’t allowed dairy. This recipe is not exact because it’s been passed down in the family. Cooking it is a very subjective experience, you have to really eye things to know when they’re ready. Try not to burn anything and it’ll turn out fine.
1 package of Akasan flour (you can find this at any Caribbean grocery store worth it’s salt. If not, then a package of very finely milled corn flour will do. And I mean fine, it should look almost like powdered sugar.), Milk, Sugar, Cinnamon or Star Anise.
Fill a small pot about a third of the way with water, bring to a boil. If preferred, add a stick of cinnamon or a star anise to the water for flavor. Pour the package of flour into the water while stirring slowly; stirring is very important to prevent lumping. Reduce to low heat and allow to cook, stirring occasionally. You’ll know it is ready when it reaches a porridge-like consistency, usually in around three to five minutes – eye-ball it.
Once cooked, turn off the heat. Grab some milk and pour it into the pot while stirring in order to dissolve the corn meal into the milk as much as possible. Stir hard and really get those lumps dissolved into the milk. I usually put around four to five cups of milk in mine. Add sugar to taste.
Remove any cinnamon or star anise and pour into the blender. Puree or Liquefy until smooth. Add milk as needed to reduce thickness. Suck up with syringe and enjoy!
Mango Power Shake
I call this a “power shake” because it’s ridiculously good for you (do you know how much Vitamin C is in a mango?) especially if you use V8 V-Fusion instead of regular old juice.
1 large mango (“large” being the size of your open palm. If not, then use two.), milk, sugar, vanilla extract, V8 V-Fusion Juice in Strawberry Banana (or just plain strawberries, but I wouldn’t recommend it because of the seeds)
Skin your mango(es); cut all of the flesh off of the seed and place in the blender. Discard the seed (or plant it, like I did). Run the blender briefly on chop to reduce the mango to a mush. Add 2 tablespoons of sugar and half a teaspoon of vanilla extract, and 2 cups of juice [if using fresh strawberries, then as many as you want, but you'll also need to add 1 to 2 cups of water]. Here comes the subjective part: add as much milk as seems right to you. I usually add around five, six cups of milk. But that’s just me.
Puree or Liquefy. Suck up with syringe and enjoy!
There are lots of other recipes, especially dinner ones, out there to cure your food pain during recovery. One of my favorite sites is Jaw Dropping Blends, which houses a ton of different recipes which offer hope to what would otherwise be a chicken broth filled future.