Day 66: The Fortress of Ensure Strikes Back!

  • Pain: 0/10
  • Inconvenience: 2/10

Guess who ate Kraft Dinner last night!

I attempted to eat a bowl of Kraft Dinner last night. My experience was less than optimal, resulting in a feeling of nausea. I guess my stomach just isn’t used to solid food anymore. Since the blender has been doing most of my digesting for me over the course of the past 9 weeks, I imagine my body has to get used to working for its nutrients once again (not that there are any nutrients in Kraft Dinner). The noodles were a bit too small for me to chew well, so I ended up swallowing most of the meal whole. What’s really exciting is that it only took half of a box to fill me up! This means I no longer have to consume 4000 calories per day to stay awake.

My big piece of advice for jaw surgery heroes today is this: When you’re given the go-ahead to start eating solid food again, do so immediately. Don’t wait for another week and a half like I did. Chewing will be difficult, not to mention extremely frustrating (and mentally exhausting). Your jaw is in a different place, your muscles are weak and you’ve likely forgot how to chew properly. I’ve been told it takes approximately 2 weeks to figure the process out again. Try to eat larger items as well. A big piece of pasta or a chunk of meat is going to teach you to chew substantially more quickly than thin foods, like lettuce, are.

The Fortress of Ensure 2.0

Eating is becoming easier each and every day. Tonight I’m going to make tuna mushroom casserole with penne noodles and see if I can manage that. It’s still tough to open my mouth wide enough for adult-sized cutlery though.

I’m also breaking up with Ensure. I have 7 cans left, which should suffice for my “lunch” for the rest of this week. This calls for a party. Since my 10-week run with that God-forsaken meal replacement is now complete, my coworker and I built the new and improved Fortress of Ensure today. Several people from the office have already stopped by to admire its sheer size. One man even fell to his knees in front of it. Just kidding.


  1. I feel you on this, I was given the go ahead to start chewing at six weeks and it took two weeks for the muscle to get close to normal strength. When I sat down with my Mac&Cheese on that first day, I had not even picked up the spoon when my grandmother sat down besides me expecting me to figure out why her bluetooth speaker wasn’t connecting to her iPad (*cough* didn’t mention she already had it connected to her phone *cough*).

  2. I love it, great advice, Graham! I had previously shied away from chewing gum because it would always break my back molar crown. But now that I have a new bite…this could totally work! I’ll give it a try and ask my surgeon too.

  3. Ina, my biggest piece of advice for you as you begin eating again is to chew gum as often as possible. You may find it exhausting at first, but it’s a constant workout for your jaw and it will return you to your full range of motion in no time at all!

    It’ll be a great day when those arch bars are removed! =)

  4. Hi Graham:
    Thanks for your positivity! I surely needed it. I was so miserable last night. My arch bars were (and still are) digging into my gums, stomach was growling and I felt depressed for the first time since my surgery. I needed patience. I don’t know why I thought it would be a walk in the park to start eating and chewing. Nothing sounded good and I kind of lost my appetite. My supportive family kept asking me if there was something they could make for me to eat which made me feel more sad. I just wanted to wallow in self pity,

    Don’t worry, I’m fine now. My surgeon’s office said I could eat anything that I can cut up with a fork so today I did just that. I had yummy dim sum and then I ate a Happy Meal. I’m trying not to use wax on my arch bars when I eat so I can get used to the pain. I also ordered a waterpik (amazon prime, baby!) because it takes me like 20 minutes to clean my teeth after eating. It’s disgusting. A little difficult to go out in public. I have been carrying a child-size toothbrush in my purse. Anyway, I kept thinking about how you said it could take 2 weeks to learn how to chew again. I realized I needed to give myself a break and take it slow. One meal at a time. I was so stubborn that I refused to drink an Ensure in the middle of the night when I was starving. I know that is just plain dumb. If I’m hungry, I need to eat.
    So I’ll just take it day by day until my next appt in 10 days. I hope they tell me I’m healing well and can get these dang arch bars off soon!
    Thanks for listening and being there for all of us!

  5. Ah, the glorious day of being reunited with Kraft Dinner! You’ll get used to your arch bars within the next couple of days, Ina. I’m happy you’ve made it this far. Each day is going to be a bit more exciting from this point forward. =)

  6. Just got unbanded and had my Kraft Macaroni and Cheese today. Also ate some tiny bits of chicken breast. Very frustrating and weird to chew. I am wearing arch bars, no braces, and they hurt. I hate them!
    Will try to chew more again at dinner. I have to wear elastics 24/7 so it’s honestly easier just to not eat but I guess I have to retrain my jaw somehow.
    Thanks for all the support from this blog. I love reading it at night when I’m wearing my heat packs in bed and hopped up on codeine. I think life will be a lot better now that I can open my mouth and start the true recovery process.

  7. The swelling has gone down a lot, but I’m still very swollen. I wear it well! lmao

  8. Thanks Graaham – that helps!

    Aimee – you don’t look very swollen to me.

  9. My entire face is swollen…does that count? LOL

  10. I only have a tiny patch of swelling left in my right cheek (after over 9 weeks). I think swelling is *officially* supposed to cease after a max of 12 weeks.

  11. Way to go Graham.

    Eating is such a pain in the butt now isn’t it? It was so much easier to drink blended soup etc. And I long for good digestion again… time I guess.

    Do you (or anyone here) still have swelling inside your mouth? I have what seem to be two “balls” of swelling inside at the back of my mouth. This are of tissue is sore and I keep biting it when I try to eat. I hope it goes down soon.

  12. Well, Kraft Dinner is just a brand of mac’n’cheese. It’s horribly unhealthy, but sometimes a cheap “cheesefix” is just whatcha need, ya’know?

    I dealt with Ensure for so long because I couldn’t justify investing time in cooking when I knew I’d have to blend the final product up. I figure if Ensure is quick, easy and manages to fill me up, I’ll suck it up for a short time.

    You’re lucky you’re not as lazy as me and you’re motivated to make *real* meals. 🙂

  13. Wow-I am glad I am not the only one who feels nauseous after eating. Like I said Graham, thank you for paving the way for those of us behind you in recovery. Even though I am still on a “no chew” diet, I have had a few things like mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes (swallowed of course)….does not sit well with me at all ): Oh well, in due time. So do you guys call mac and cheese “Kraft Dinner” in Canada? Pretty cool!

    And just out of shear curiosity… in the world did you handle Ensure for soooo long???? Yuck! But good for you! I lasted about a week and half and could not do it anymore-hence me being starving all the time!

    Looking forward to the next update!

  14. I didn’t get an appetite until about a week ago – before that, it wouldn’t have mattered if I had anyone here or not. I didn’t have energy either, but nor did I want to eat anything other than an Ensure drink or something. I couldn’t get the taste for anything, it was terrible. But now, since I’ve still got a few weeks to go in a splint, I’m happy as can be that my hubby is such a wonderful, creative man! 🙂

  15. @Tammy: I’ve heard of those before! Anything that translates literally as “syrup waffles” sounds like a win-win deal to me!

    @Daniel: Not a bad idea. I’m going to use that recipe you sent me soon as well.

    @Aimee: You’re lucky you’ve got someone there to do your cooking for ya! I definitely lacked the energy to cook for the first big chunk of my recovery.

  16. Yayyyy! And good advice, Graham…live and learn, huh?

    I can handle my Ensure…in fact, I don’t even mind it, because my hubby is feeding me such wonderful dinners! I still can’t believe I’ve eaten burgers and pizza from a blender! But they’re SO yummy!

    Congrats on the milestone….and keep pluggin’ away! Your smile looks fantastic, by the way!!

  17. I can see how happy you are at having eaten Kraft Dinner – Maybe you should splurge and make yourself some beef stroganoff or something good and hearty – at least as part of a meal? That’d give you some good chewing practice!

  18. Let me know when you are ready for wafel/cookie texture, I will send you some stroopwafels! A favorite among anyone who visits the Netherlands, and something I’m forced to take home by the suitcase load when going home to visit family!

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