Friday 3rd April 2020

Appreciation In August. #3. 2018.76.

Appreciation In August. #3. 2018.76.

My Alphabet of Appreciation FOR FOOD This Week in August 2018.

Some readers know that I have been without any teeth on top since my cancer diagnosis in May 2017 and after radical surgery in July 2017 a whole new inner /upper mouth was created and once I got home after 10 days, I needed to learn how to feed me. So much is attached to food: texture, tastes, preferences for savoury or sweet, crunchy food or smooth but I have been limited. Very much. It has been a big lesson for me in patience, creativity, adapting and making the best I can of the reason I had to do this hard work – cancer. The list here is all of the foods I have been able to eat. Often they are not in quantities I may have consumed pre-surgery as my mouth gets tired (and I get bored) with some food rolling around in my mouth for ages.

In a week or so, I will have had new top teeth added and I have no idea (yet) how this will be. This for now, is all I appreciate that I have been able to eat for the past 14 months.

A.

  • avocado – in all manner of way: by itself and added to dishes.
  • apple: I have tried many times with apple – grated but it is too hard to get it swallowed as I cannot (yet) chew.

B.

  • bread – no crusts but can eat white or wholemeal as a sandwich, or small pieces into soup
  • biscuits – dipping ones: malt, orange creams, plain biscuits. I have tried “choc covered’ ones: messy! I miss savoury biscuits as I cannot bite nor crunch
  • butter – my preferred spread and it is needed to help food like bread go down
  • beef casserole with chuck steak cooked all day – meat melts in my mouth

C.

  • cake – my homemade cupcakes with icing and those from my friend Kyla’s shop
  • coffee – double shot latte when I go out, and I keep a range of packet coffee mixes here
  • crumpets – can be cut into 4 and spread with butter and honey, I can pop the soft part in my mouth and leave crust
  • cheese – kraft blue box cheddar, tasty grated cheese and parmesan grated
  • carrot – cooked and then blended and added to bol sauce, soups
  • chicken noodle soup
  • chicken mince made into sweet and sour dishes
  • chicken cubes cooked and made into a casserole with cream of chicken soup

D.

  • dairy milk chocolate

E.

  • egg (scrambled only) with C for chutney on B for buttered T for toast

Some photos of some selections of the foods I ate in the early days. 

F.

  • fish – in the form of S for salmon in tins & smoked salmon in small pieces for lunch in summer
  • fruit – very limited. See P for pear, M for mango
  • fillet steak – cooked medium, and cut finely, with some sauce for flavour, added to 2 min noodles.

G.

  • grains – nope. They stick in places in my mouth and cannot escape.

H.

  • healthy choices. I make as many of these as I can each day knowing how much my recovery and wellness needs.
  • honey : good with plain yoghurt when I first came home from hospital last year
  • spread on crumpets

I. 

  • iodised salt is a daily condiment to aid flavour since I think my taste buds are slightly changed
  • ice-cream. Not a huge fan but it soothes my mouth after surgery and vanilla is my go-to.

J.

  • jelly. Oh so much jelly when I first recovered after major surgery and sometimes cooling and soothing after smaller surgeries. In a little container. Sometimes with I for ice-cream.
  • jam. Adding some flavour to a toasted muffin. See M for Muffin and how this is eaten.

K.

  • kale K for kidding. I can eat NO  leafy veges or salad other than what I list elsewhere

More foods from my challenging eating days. Imagination and creativity helps me with meals.

L. 

  • lettuce in teensy tiny cut up pieces added to my taco bowl or a sandwich with vegemite and cheese

M.

  • mango – could eat cut up in a bowl using a spoon. It was a great addition to lunch in Summer.
  • minced meat. How I learned to love you and cook with you for me:
  • minced beef: spag bol, savoury mince, taco mince
  • minced chicken: as above
  • minced lamb combined with the minced beef has made the best savoury mince to date
  • minced pork: a version of san box choy – just the seasoning, and the mince and on some 2 minute noodles
  • muffin: toasted white one: I can spread jam on a buttered one, cut into quarters and eat the middle part, leaving edge
  • milk: in coffee and tea and on my breakfast every day. Before the first surgery I was not a fan of cereal and milk and now I am. See W for Weetbix.

N.

  • noodles – see above: 2 Minute Chicken Noodles added to meat dishes. I have to cut the noodles with scissors before eating so I don’t choke on a long thread!

O.

  • oranges – cut and squeezed and drinking their juice

P.

  • pasta – the spaghetti variety – cut up and sometimes tube one – but needed to be well-cut for swallowing
  • pumpkin soup – over it. So over it. Yet because it “is” a vegetable and healthy I had made and eaten this a lot.
  • potatoes –  as long as they are  mashed and buttered they went down well on top of my savoury mince.
  • pikelets: these are great with some butter and a spread. Warmed even more so.
  • peanut butter: sometimes on bread and sometimes on a toasted muffin.

 Q.

  • nothing comes to mind for Q.

R.

  • roast lamb dinner. Ok. Three times my dear husband cooked this and it was delightful, drowned in gravy and with burnt baked pumpkin and potatoes
  • rice. Oh how I have used rice: white: fried: and it is a staple that I can generally ‘get down’ with a meat/fish in some kind of sauce.

Meals and more meals. Dinner was easier than lunch often. 

S.

  • sweet potatoes have been good, blended with regular potato and added to meat dishes as well as soups
  • soups. I know they are good for the body and soul. I made many: chicken and veggies, ham hock and veggies and each was blended and frozen for future consumption. I have a range of packet soups on hard always. I can only eat (and have always preferred) a thinnish soup. Not thick at all.
  • sweets. I can eat some very soft sweets: this has been in recent months: milk bottles, strawberries & cream, pineapples.
  • sandwiches. I know that they are hard to get down but I do because I missed bread. So, the fillings – spreads or cheese or salmon need some butter or condiments and then I cut off all the crusts, and then the sandwich into cubes. I can now get down 8 rectangles. Before the past month or so it was 16 squares. Takes ages to eat.

T.

  • tomato condensed soup from Rosella in the can, with milk added is a comfort food from childhood and it gets a run regularly.
  • tomatoes. I long(ed) for the taste of tomatoes but their skin made eating impossible. Lately though, I have bought small vine grown ones, and I cut out the middle with seeds and juice and that goes on a taco or even a crumpet for a savoury taste
  • tacos came about when I was looking for NEW tastes. I make up the taco mince with the powder and freeze the cooked portions, making myself ‘taco in a bowl’ with added: tomato & lettuce (see above), tasty cheese, avocado, lite sour cream.
  • tea: cups of …and often with biscuits I can dunk.
  • toast…is eaten rarely but I have tried it in very small squares with some creamed corn on top and eaten with a spoon as well as with scrambled egg.

U.

  • unhealthy but delicious at times: treats that I “can” eat when I am out: bits of donut edges, some cakes with no nuts and some icing, a part of a scone with jam & cream. Chocolate: including latest I can eat: freckles.

V.

  • variety is what I try to have but it can be V for very hard some days and I just retreat to ‘old faves’.
  • very good advice from the dietitian before I left hospital in July 2017 was to aim for enjoyment AND nutrition in my meals and snacks and I do remember that often.

W.

  • water. I always have water near me and particularly when eating. I have not choked but water is a good lubrication in my mouth anyway so I have sips and swigs during my meal
  • weetbix. Who knew? Before surgeries for cancer I rarely ate cereal. For the past year it is my standard and ONLY breakfast: 2 weetbix, some sugar (oh come on, I cannot do these plain) and lite milk. And I will continue this breakfast when I have my teeth and it is a healthy one.

X.

  • of course nothing starts with X in this list but I will say taking eXtra care before attempting to eat food, and not talking as I eat (before surgery Denyse did) helps my food stay IN and then go down.

Y.

  • yellow foods: cheeses, butter, custard are dairy-based and they are part of my meals and snacks and I try to have
  • yoghurt in the fridge most weeks so when I feel like I need to be ‘virtuous’ I have some.

Z.

  • zooper doopers are always in the freezer. They are awesome post mouth surgeries but need to be cut into small, manageable pieces as I cannot suck. Seriously, not even using a straw with success. Unsure if this ability will return.

Treats have become a daily event but in limited quantities. I have remained around the same weight for the past 12 months and wish to stay that way. Increasing activity now I am very well is helping. 

 

I hope you did not get too hungry reading this!

Denyse.

Linking with Leanne for Lovin Life Linky on Thursdays here.

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments

  1. It’s great that you have still had some variety in terms of food, but perhaps not textures. You’ve come so far in the last 12 months though…

    • Oh yes, I know I have and I thank my creative self for this too. I have tended to be a cook like that anyway even though I will use a recipe as a guide.

      Meat meals were my big challenge and once one of the the surgeons suggested mince then I was able to expand the tastes over time.

      I am curious to know how it will be with some top teeth again and will update for sure!

      Denyse x

  2. I can’t do pumpkin soup. Never have been able to. Which is odd as I like pumpkin.

    • It might be the texture. It was the first soup I had at home and it was a packet one (and it was OK-ish) and even though I have made my own over time, I am “over it”…and soup in its entirety for now. I should not complain though because at least I am on my way to eating a greater variety of foods where many head and neck patients never do despite their cancer being done.

      Denyse x
      PS burnt baked pumpkin in the roast lamb dinner B made was outstanding!

  3. Wow…now that’s something you certainly don’t think about when people talk about fighting cancer. Hopefully you will have some success with new foods when you get your new teeth!!
    XOXO
    Jodie
    http://www.jtouchofstyle.com

    • Jody I too continue to learn! Much of my treatment is relatively new (less than 4 years of implementation) and I often hear “Oh this is the first time we have done this” as part of my treatment to rehabilitate my inner mouth.

      Thank you for your caring words.

      Denyse x

  4. I really had no idea how the pleasure of food changes so much when your dentition changes. I should do for work but I don’t really.

    Thanks for sharing this, Denyse and all the best for your new teeth!

    SSG xxx

    • I don’t have a marked change but those who have radiation to the head area, for cancer in the throat are really disadvantaged on many levels post cancer treatments. Today I have attended my first local HNC support group and there are people there who still cannot swallow certain foods and textures based on the cancer treatments.

      The reason Beyond Five is called that is that for HNC patients, even when cured, you are never the same as before and need to have some kind of support way beyond the typical 5 years post cancer.

      I am learning a LOT as I go.

      And at the meeting today everyone was 60+. It shows that is affects quite a few people as they age. HPV vaccine at teens (boys and girls) might prevent HNC in the future. I am lucky mine is not HPV related.

      Here endeth the patient telling the professional a story!

      Denyse x

  5. Yes you did make me feel hungry! It’s incredible how teeth affect what you can eat. I’ve had a partial denture for the past 20 years or so and always hated it because it impacted on what I could eat. I have never been able to bite into an apple! I just had 3 dental implants and crowns so I now have my own teeth again! It’s heaven. I bet you’re looking forward to having some top teeth again Denyse. #TeamLovinLife

    • Oh how good that must feel to bite into an apple!! I was told that will be a test I have to take before I leave when I have the teeth put in..but I think maybe it was a little prank!

      Nevertheless we do all want to have both enjoyment of tastes and sensations as well as be able to chew our food well. I am glad you finally have that back.

      I admit that not being able to chew other than ‘move the small pieces of food around my mouth’ has given me quite a bit of indigestion so with more ability to reduce the food before it is swallowed, I hope I will be more comfy.

      Just heard it will be at the earlier Tuesday next week for teeth. Sigh. Still, I have waited all these months!!

      Denyse x

  6. It’s so easy to forget just how much pleasure food brings until it can’t, whether temporarily or permanently!! As a speechie working in disability, many of my clients have significant issues with mealtimes. Some need their food to be modified a bit, some a lot, and some are only able to have “tastes” and get all their nutritional needs met via a PEG (feeding tube). It also limits topics of conversation and has made me realise over the years just how much conversation can focus on food and mealtimes!!
    You’ve done incredibly well Denyse, to get the variety in your diet that you do have. I think I would have lived on pureed soups. I’m sure you’ll be on cloud nine once you have some new teeth xx

    • Oh yes, of course it must take many different means for eating. I knew, pre-surgeries, that I was concerned about the fact that I do and have eaten for ‘comfort and calm’. I admit though, now 14 months down the track, I can do this somewhat but funnily enough, I do not “need” to do it as much!

      Interesting about how we adapt.

      I did have a feeding tube for 7 days in hospital and I did not like the sensation of the dripped doses going down my throat. I have a big aversion to vomiting, and thought it may end up regurgitated. It did not. And, to deal with my concerns about it, I changed my mindset to “this is nourishing me, and getting me well and ready to eat again”.

      Initially I used to make sad updates when people shared food pics on IG (always stuff I could never eat now and back then) but then I decided to be more empathetic and not to “make people feel bad”….and of course I can scroll by!

      Of interest to me now, at least 4 to 5 days away from ‘upper teeth’ is what will I really feel like eating! Probably crunchy toast, and butter & marmalade with a cup of tea. Something I have missed all this time.

      Thank you for sharing your interesting stories re others. Always better for being informed!

      Denyse x

  7. I can’t imagine how you’ve coped so long. I had to eat a weird diet for a couple of months and even now can’t eat certain things (or eat and drink at the same time) and it kills me! It’s a testament to your patience / resilience that you’ve been able to get through this with your sanity! xx

    • Wow Deb, I did not know there are still restrictions for you (eating and drinking at the same time for example) but I guess it’s how much your system can manage.
      I know that “I” had no idea how I could stick with this and for it to have lasted so long. However, we humans are amazingly adaptive.

      I have a much wider range of food choices compared to many who head and neck cancers were treated some time ago. Radiation (thankfully I did not have to have it) plays havoc with many parts in the neck related to swallowing and more.

      Hence, I am incredibly grateful to have come through this with far fewer deprivations than many!

      That has helped me a lot in terms of getting through…and I can only hope my blog and the stories I tell may encourage and motivate others.

      Thanks for your care and unwavering support. I always appreciate it.

      Denyse x

  8. I’m hungry thanks to your post, Denyse! I must admit I love all food and not sure how I would have coped like you have had to do over the last year or so. I bet you can’t wait to tuck into a big, juicy steak! Not long to go now. xx

    • Sue, I know that none of us know how we can manage something until we “have to” so I really think we sell ourselves short really. Your kindness and care has always been appreciated and as I said to a FB friend today, my cheerleaders really get me through some of the tougher times.

      I “may” have to wait for a bit for the meat as my prosthodontist will be keen for me to get used to the teeth in my mouth first and I am not so sure how much I will be able to ‘bite’ into foods like meat as I still only have my 8 own teeth on the bottom for now.

      We shall see! Toast is grabbing me as a first snack/meal i think.

      Denyse x

  9. We take so much for granted. Like the simple ability to eat as nature intended.
    I’m so happy to see your smile again.

    • Until you lose it you do not realise. Funnily enough though I am really taking my time to find foods again that I can chew and bite. It took me a minute to eat ONE chip last night. Won’t be putting any weight back on that way LOL.

      Denyse x

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