The Challenge: Day Nine

Success is measured in centimeters.

Well, it is if you’re a recovering cancer patient with jaw muscle issues that prevent you from opening your mouth very widely.

Today – another lovely day in paradise, with dark clouds looming on the horizon, promising us our daily deluge – was a return trip to the dentist. People who have gone through radiation to their mouth and throat have to be particularly vigilant about dental health. Some of this is due to the non-eating during treatment and afterwards, and some is due to the reduced salivary function, which normally helps keep teeth bathed. While some people have teeth yanked before going into treatment, I did not, and I’m pleased to say that my dental health is still good, all things considered. Today was a return trip to see if we could do the cleaning we were unable to do last time because they couldn’t get their instruments in.

We could. And we did. For the first time in a year, I went through a cleaning. Painful, to be sure. But clean. People like me have to go every three months instead of every six like regular people, but if it allows me to keep my choppers, I’m all for it.

So, an unqualified success on that front.

Eating, however, remains elusive and rather puzzling.

There are a myriad of issues surrounding cancer: diagnosis, treatment options, the actual treatment itself, recovery in all phases of life, from eating to talking to even walking around and being able to care for yourself. Right now, the single largest issue for me has to be eating. I am simply not hungry most of the time, which contributes as much to the weight loss problems as the inability to eat does. However, I’ve found that at time, when I do manage to get something down, it’s like eating Chinese food – even after having a bowl of soup and some ice cream just a short while ago, for instance, I’m still hungry. Part of this is because I’ve not really been eating by mouth the past week and it’s always better to really eat and get the motions going rather than use the tube. Part of this is because when I do eat by mouth, I’m not able to eat high bulk items or items from the high fiber group as I simply cannot eat them with my current limitations, and thus not able to feel “full” when eating more liquidy type things. And part of it is the tasting issue, because when you can’t taste much of anything, it’s damn hard to work up enthusiasm to eat. It’s a bit of a conundrum.

Fortunately, I’ve dug around in my books and found this, which we had picked up between surgery and radiation/chemo, since we knew eating would be quite the adventure. I’ve also found this and this. I’ve been leafing through them for inspiration, much the same way I look through any cookbook. Hopefully something will come together and get me back on track here.

For the others: they had to fend for themselves tonight. I spent a lot of time after the dentist dealing with the bank who handles my business account, as that’s been a complete nightmare for the past three months, and talking with the manager at a branch of a competing bank, trying to decide whether to go ahead and change banks. And taking a nap, which I apparently needed since it lasted almost two hours. No breadmaking, no pickles, no chicken stock, but since the bread only take about three hours total including the rising times, I’m considering tossing it together tonight. Tomorrow, though, after a run to Fresh Market for some bulk whole wheat flour, those projects will begin, as will prep for dinner. One sister has requested a low fat menu, with a salad, and a steamed veggie of some kind (or some other preparation that won’t rob the vegetable of its nutrition – what does she think I’ve been making?), so I need to come up with something for that.

Your regularly-scheduled Challenge update will recommence tomorrow evening.