Day 35: Aunt Jemima and Old Beans

  • Pain: 0/10
  • Inconvenience: 4/10

Aunt Jemima makes me smile. Her pancakes and syrup have brought joy to my heart many times in my short life. I know that some people disapprove of my undying love for the lady because her products may not be as natural as others, but I’ll stand by her anyway. The wonderful thing about pancakes is that I can eat them as soon as I get my splint out because they’re considered soft food. I have a serious date with Aunt Jemima’s cooking, and it’s happening in 3 weeks. That should be more than enough time to prepare.

My daily caloric intake has been skyrocketing lately, yet I’m still skinny and gaining hardly any weight at all. My menu as of late looks like this:

  • Breakfast: Smoothie and a glass of prune juice (600 cal)
  • Lunch: 3 cans of Ensure Plus (1050 cal)
  • Dinner: 2 cans of blended Chunky soup w/ milk, a glass of prune juice and a large Dairy Queen Blizzard (1900 cal)

Dinner. That is, prune juice, a Blizzard and 4 cups of Chunky soup.

Granted, they’re not all meat-and-protein calories, but that’s still a hefty number for a single day (over 3500 cal/day). I shall credit their use to my body requiring every last bit of energy to fuse the bones in my jaw back together. If you’re wondering where all the calories in my dinner are coming from, perhaps you need to make yourself aware that the average Dairy Queen Blizzard contains over 1000 calories by itself.

“You just got schooled by a handicapped kid!”

I finally started joining my team in the lunchroom at work again. I haven’t seen a few of the people in the office for over 5 weeks because they don’t work on my floor, so it was nice to say hello to them. It was a little difficult having to bathe in the scent of all the delicious food everyone was partaking of while I drank my Ensure, but I’m getting used to it. We play cards every single day at lunch, so I took part in that as well, and I even won a round! As I placed my winning card upon the table, I cried out, “You just got schooled by a handicapped kid!” Sometimes the truth hurts.

I learned two very important lessons yesterday:

  1. Never purchase No Name Tomato soup. It’s half the price for a reason.
  2. Never ever forget old beans in your refrigerator for 6 weeks. Ever. (I made a big pot of chili with a friend a few days before my surgery and we had a small portion of leftover kidney beans, so we put them in a sealed container in the fridge. Since I haven’t been able to eat for the past 5 weeks, I simple forgot they were in there. My roommate and I have been wondering where the rancid smell in our fridge has been coming from for quite some time now. Apparently, sealed Ziploc containers are no match for moldy beans. You’ve been warned.)

I’m in the mood to keep you smiling today, so I leave you with a delightful picture of Ms. Jemima herself.


  1. Hey Graham,

    Hope you are well! I need your point of view/opinion something being that you have undergone the same surgery. Today is also day 35 for me surgeon finally removed the wires and splint. Just as you have mentioned in the past it felt odd, brushing on the hand was great I wanted to brush for hours and even a baby crush hurt my jaw when trying to open it. I am still unable to open since the surgeon put rubber bands throughout my mouth. Next week He will leave just two and I will finally be able to eat (I hope)

    So I am not too happy with what I saw ( I suppose I have to get used to it) and there are 2 reasons behind that and I think you address one of them in a previous blog and questions which I can’t locate so ..

    #1 Prior to surgery I had tooth #9 to top front tooth chipped a bit. Now when I was wired and with the splint I felt like I had a gap (right on the front) which at one point was nice since it helped to get more liquid in but after today I noticed that tooth #24 which the bottom front tooth also chipped 🙁 which make it look bad (I know with time I’ll get it fixed)

    #2 As I look at myself it now looks like I have an overbite (I get that I need to get used to a new smile) see the space between the front teeth to the bottom is quiet big in my opinion and I asked the surgeon and he simply said don’t worry that will get better! I felt a bit shy to ask him how so or if he was sure lol I suppose I need to trust him on this too he is the professional you know.

    I know you mentioned that you had an open bite after surgery and that it slowly got better. I look like a squirrel now lol I hear that continuing with the braces can make that better and that the jaw itself will try to grow back a bit. Any experience with this situation? I really wish I could do a better job at explaining it.

    I wrote way to much so thanks for taking the time to read through all this and allowing me to vent some of that bad experience … I can however speak. I called all my friends and family to the point that some said sure you don’t want to go back to being wired lol

    Thanks so much! Have a great one

    • Hi Andrea!

      1) I haven’t met anyone who noticed a new chipped tooth as a result of having this surgery, but as you mentioned, that’s something you’ll be able to fix once you are fully recovered.

      2) I also felt like I had a huge overbite following my surgery, but I believe that is due to the fact that you’re used to seeing yourself with an underbite. I found that when I asked friends and family if I appeared to have an overbite, they all responded with a confident “no,” confirming that it was simply me being my own worst critic. I encourage you to ask your family and close friends if they think you have a pronounced overbite and see what they say. Also, keep in mind that you are barely 1/3 of the way toward being fully recovered, so you will still have lots of swelling which will affect the shape of your face in a significant manner.

      Hope this provides a bit of comfort for you! 😊

  2. Well I went back to work yesterday at day 33. I worked only for 4 hrs and I think I talked to staff for 4 hrs! I was exhausted when I got home and my face was extremely stiff this morning! I did much better today as far as talking…all my staff know I shouldn’t be talking too much so they left me alone. I had an appt with my surgeon on Tuesday and he was concerned my jaw shifted abit so he put more elastics on, had an ortho appt yesterday and they changed out my top wire and he put all the elastics back in. Back to the surgeon today and I was hoping he would take some elastics out…but no! He added another one!
    Anyway, I went to the grocery store today and bought some pancake mix so I’m going to have pancakes for supper…still not allowed to chew! I also found a recipe for toasted tomatoes topped with cheese, should be soft and yummy!

    • Terry, isn’t it crazy how lacking in energy you still are an entire month later?! You’re right on the verge of having heaps of energy again each day, though. I rediscovered my energy around the 6-week mark, so you’re very close!

      Enjoy eating breakfast for dinner and I can’t wait to hear about how much you love not having to wear elastics any longer! =)

  3. Graham,

    I’m from Massachusettes, 30 years old. My surgery was a long time coming but it has finally come and gone. I just would like to say thanks for posting your blog as often as you did. Before my surgery, I would always check your blog for what I thought I would expect. My surgery was a little more invasive; I had double jaw surgery as well as Total Temporimandbular replacement on both sides. What that means specifically is that, both my condyles were fractured/broken because of a horrible sledding accident when I was younger. Your blog has helped me through the process, albiet a little more complicated, it has giving me something to base my recovery on. My surgery was 13.5 hours and I was in a medicially induced coma for 8 days(nothing seriously wrong, pneumonia and high temperatures but mostly just preventing me from taking out all the wires when I would wake up), 15 total days in the hospital. I was in the best hospital possible at Mass General Hospital in Boston. When I was released, because of the prosthetic condyles, I didn’t need the elastics, i can only imagine how annoying they can be. I read your blog everyday as I’m going through the process; currently on day 34. Most of the swelling is gone, quite a bit of numbness; which was what I expected. At what point do you remember being able to smile without much strain on your muscles?

    Again Graham, thanks for your blog it has truly been inspirational for me throughout this process!! I appreciate all that you’ve dedicated to this blog!!


    • Wow, Frankie, it sounds like you had an intense surgery! I can’t believe the operation took 13.5 hours! As for smiling, I recall smiling without any noticeable discomfort at around the 10-week mark. I was smiling before that, but I could feel the tension in my cheeks. I hope your recovery is going amazingly well, my friend!

  4. Hey Graham!!
    I was just wondering if you remember whether you were allowed to just swallow food. I was told that I can now eat mashed potato/scrambled egg consistency but I’m not allowed to chew any food. So I’ve resorted to cooking pasta and literally just swallowing it and breaking up cookies etc and swallowing, but I’ve found that even just doing this I’m often tempted to chew just naturally I think. Is this a bad idea?
    I don’t know how you were still eating soup at this stage, I couldn’t stand any more soup/ensure after the 4 week mark. So I’ve also stopped with the ensure drinks completely and tried to eat a balanced diet consisting of lots of fish since you don’t have to chew it. But I’m not doing well on the fruit/veg front. Is this a really bad idea??
    Thanks 🙂

    • Howdy Ella!

      I swallowed food whole for quite a few weeks, to be honest. As long as you’re not experiencing stomach aches, you should be alright. I would swallow large chunks of meet or big pieces of hard vegetables or anything like that, but if you’re talking about mashed potatoes, steam vegetables (that you can break up by mashing them against the roof of your mouth), and scrambled eggs, you will be perfectly fine.

      To get your fruits and vegetables, blend them. Make fruit smoothies. Not only are they good for you, they’re seriously delicious as well!

  5. Hi there Lori,

    I recall having slight difficulty speaking sans elastics at first, but my speech corrected itself within a few days. It’s incredible how quickly a person adjusts to new movement in their face. You don’t have to worry about your speech. Just give it a few more days.

    I started working out again at around the two-month mark, but I couldn’t run full tilt until about three months post-op. Just follow the signs your body provides you with. Your energy, strength, and stamina will all return quickly if you continue training each day.

    My first orthodontist appointment was slightly painful because they wanted to see how far I could open my mouth. It only hurt at the time, though. I was back to normal immediately following the appointment.

    As for feeling, most of my feeling was back within three months. I have a small numb patch on my chin, but I’ve adjusted to it so well that I don’t even realize it’s there unless someone asks about it now. I promise you will adjust to any permanent numbness you may have.

    I think I hit all of your questions! Woo! The main takeaway is that you’re only one month in, so you shouldn’t worry about anything for at least another 4 – 6 weeks. =)

  6. Hey Graham,

    I’m on day 35 today… which is a hell of alot better than day 14 and all the days I have left behind :)… like everything, time heals… I’m curious though about a few things… can you try to think way back on your day 35 post op and help me with some things… I know that you did not have your elastics off at this time, neither do I, but yesterday I did take them off to eat a muffin… (I did not chew it, just swallowed it with a whole bunch of butter on it… I’m trying to gain back weight before May because I start running again soon)… and I tried speaking, which was very hard for me… do you remember what it felt like for you when you were able to speak without the elastics? Did you stuggle? Yesterday I bit my lip so many times, and now when I say my “s” sound, it complicates things now that my teeth are closed. I’m thinking that speech therapy is a possibility, was this ever a concern to you? Also, yesterday was the first day that I got on my elliptical machine. Oh it was heaven to be able to work out again, although the 30 minutes was one hell of a workout. I am used to training for marathons all year round so not being able to get outside to run or on a treadmill was hard for me, but my jaw really hurt when I started off on the treadmill. I took that as an instant sign that it’s too soon to do such a “hard on the body” sport. Around what time in your recovery did you start working out? Also, next week I go for my 6 week appointment, then the following week I go to my orthodontist. Do you remember what the first orthodontist appointment was like for you? I read somewhere on your website that it was painful… I’m not looking forward to that. I’m also concerned because like you and like I have said before on your site, I have not recieved any feeling back in my chin or lip… and I know since they punctured a nerve that there is a good chance I won’t recieve any feeling… but can you think back about what time you started feeling the little bit that you have back? Sorry for writing such a long note here but I had alot of questions that I know you can help me with and when you do help me, your answers truly make me feel better about how I’m feeling. Thanks.

  7. Haha, you’ll know you’ve gone crazy when you start having real dreams about feasts.

    That’s exciting that you can remove your own bands now though. I remember that being quite a liberating feeling.

    Brush lots!

  8. I went to my orthodentist today and he gave me elastic bands which i can change myself evry single day and which should be removed each time i eat and brush my teeth. I wonder how much time I have to keep them. Class resumes on Monday. Am dreaming of eating a large plate of chips and hot steak with mayonaise and loads of salad.

  9. How long has it taken you to graduate from pasta to cold pizza? I’m trying to figure out how many weeks it will take for me to be able to eat steak again, because I want to plan my barbecues!

  10. You should be fully prepared for how long it will take you to eat when eating soft food, at least initially, and how quickly you may feel full. However, soft food is delicious! You’re gonna have a great time. Ms. Jemima is clearly excited.

    Yesterday I bit through a piece of cold pizza! It was not easy, but it worked!

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