Posted by: Kate | December 14, 2008

Menu Planning for the Condemned

OK, I know, “condemned” is a smidge overdramatic.  But I’m having oral surgery on Tuesday; not just fillings under anesthesia because I’m too screwed up to handle any significant period of time or invasive procedures in a dentist’s chair.  I don’t deal especially gradefully or maturely with the dentist to begin with, and this time they’re using words like “resection” and “stitches” and “pain.”  Yippee.

See, back in 2001, I had my lower wisdom teeth out.  I have no idea why I didn’t have them out back in 1991 when I had the upper ones removed.  But they were growing, perfectly perpendicular to how they should have been, parallel to the floor, and pushing into my other teeth, and I would vaccilate between mild discomfort and blatant misery, so out they went.

Right from the start, I had a suspicion that something wasn’t quite right.  It seemed like things just weren’t left clean and neat back there where the teeth once were; lots of swelling and just oddness.  No one made mention of it to me, but then again anytime I went in to see a dentist I was so hopped up on benzos and anxiety that I would likely not have taken notice of Ed McMahon delivering the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes to me in those circumstances.

Years passed, and for the most part I was able to ignore that particular area of my body.  About once a year, I would have to make an emergency dental appointment because I would develop a small abscess back there, and would field lectures about inadequate flossing and “by the way, you’re due for a cleaning…” and would go home and avoid it all as long as possible.

Finally, just before Thanksgiving – and right after being laid off, because I was already miserable so why not immerse myself in my most palpable phobia? – I saw a new dentist.  I’ve had one tooth that has had pain since the work I had done in August (this is a smidge infuriating, since I had no pain at all before then), and yet another abscess.  And for the first time, instead of a lecture about flossing and such, I had a dentist look, and say, “Hey, I bet this happens all the time, no matter how much you floss.”  Ummm, yes.  “It looks like you floss pretty regularly, actually, but there’s no way you’d be able to clean this out back here.  It’s just too deep and irregular.”  Ummmm, yes again.  “I think we need to get you back to the dentist you saw before, you need some fairly invasive work done to get this fixed.”  Ummmm… OK.  I guess.  If I have to.

But the thing is, having chronic low-grade pain back in that area is one thing, and I’ve lived with it for seven years without really noticing.  Having recurring abscesses is another thing altogether; I’d never thought of it in these precise terms, but the dentist was concerned, “because it’s never a good idea to carry an infection that close to your brain.”

Fair enough, and probably true.  Back to the general-anesthesia guy, who gave me far more information than I wanted about the type of incisions and stitches and mouth rinse that will be involved, and oh-by-the-way he’s going to try painting some sort of sealant on that one mystery painful tooth, because the only other option is a root canal and I’m not quite ready to go there if I can possibly avoid it.

That will all be Tuesday, early afternoon, and won’t that be nice?  Can’t wait.

So, until 7:00a Tuesday, I’m allowed to eat, and have been told to expect to have trouble with solid foods for at least the first several days after the procedure.  I’m trying to decide what to eat tomorrow, what sorts of low-grade gluttony I can indulge in before I have to begin fasting and then whimpering.

Concord grapes, discovered at the grocery store today despite being very late in the season, and cold cereal with milk, and dill pickles.  A roast in the fridge, for tomorrow’s dinner.  No ice cream yet, because given the ice storm and related power outages, both grocery stores I visited today had empty freezers.  Chocolate, of course, if only in the form of Reese’s peanut butter cups.

Any other suggestions?  What else should I nibble before the long solitary walk down the hallway to The Chair?



  1. Given my dentist phobia, I’d say condemned is the perfect word. I think I’d be eating pie, “All nine kinds of pie that Harold liked best.”

    Good luck tomorrow!

  2. Homemade bread soaked in real butter with either honey or strawberry jam on top is my go-to indulgent chewy food. Or pepperoni/pineapple pizza. A really crispy fuji apple.

    I’d save ice cream for afterwards, since you’ll be having trouble with solid foods. Hello milkshake city (with a spoon of course)!

    Best milkshake story ever – after Sis had her wisdom teeth out, she craved a cheeseburger like nothing else. Mum got a drive-through burger and blended it with some milk, and Sis ate the burger milkshake! She said it tasted delicious but was a nauseating texture.

  3. Hugs, hugs, hugs.

    I’d look forward to chocolate malts, if I were you.

    But for now? Lots of garlic. Lots and lots and lots. Yum. Thai garlic food?

  4. Hmm… for some reason a chimichanga, WITH sour cream and WITH cheese on top, from your favorite great Mexi place, popped into my head. if you’re into that kind of thing. best o’luck!

  5. I’d say beforehand: whatever your heart desires.

    When I was younger, I had braces and quite a bit of dental work done. I hated it, but every time, after any awful procedure, my mom would drive through Wendy’s and get me a Frosty. I hope you have a Wendy’s nearby. 🙂

  6. Infection near the brain – never thought of it that way. Gives a whole new perspective to the argument I have repeatedly had with Shane about his lack of dental visits over the last, oh, 10 years.

    If it were me, I’d go straight for the cheese. Or french fries. Or both together. Anything with potatoes and cheese. And bread. A big greasy cheeseburger and a large plate of fries. Mmmm… I’m hungry just thinking about it. Lord, no wonder I’m overweight.

  7. You’ll be in my prayers and thoughts. HUGZ of dental support.

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