Now the sutures are gone, and my gums just feel like gums now, since the grafts are on the inside (between my mucal tissue and my teeth). I thought I'd be getting a mostly clean bill of health at this point, but I'm apparently supposed to be very careful for a long time yet. I've been given no estimate as to when I'll be able to just eat like a normal person—take a bite out of a chicken leg, eat an egg roll, snack on raw carrots, etc.—but the dentist today suggested that I move on to pasta as my next step. He warned me against trying anything spicy for the next month or so (month? wow), but said Italian was a good bet.
Excited at this prospect, I ordered some pasta delivered from North Beach Pizza tonight & wanted some variety, so I ordered one vegetable dish (fettucini primavera) and one meat dish (tortellini bolognese) ... but once I'd begun eating I realized that I had dramatically misjudged my appetite. I've been getting a fair amount of vegetables in the soups I've been eating, but I've been getting very little protein for the past 2 weeks. I hadn't thought it was a big deal, but when the food arrived I found myself just wolfing down the bolognese sauce. The tortellini is nice—good chewy texture without hurting my gums, as long as I'm careful about where I chew it in my mouth—but my body was basically just screaming MEAT! MEAT!
I now wish I had ordered 2 meat dishes, instead of the vegetable one! I'm sure I'll still enjoy the variety I'll get from the vegetables (as long as they are cooked enough—I haven't tried them yet, because I filled up on MEAT MEAT MEAT), but my body is clearly craving protein in a serious way.
Maybe tomorrow I'll go to lunch at one of our nearby restaurants and order another ground-meat dish. I think meat in larger pieces is definitely beyond me right now, but the ground beef in the bolognese is perfect. I'm still pretty limited, of course, because I can't have ground/minced meat mixed with anything chewier than pasta. I wonder if I'm even going to be able to eat those vegetables in the fettucini I ordered tonight. I may have been overly ambitious. I'll give them a try & see how firm they are. Normally, I like my veggies only lightly cooked & still nice and crunchy, which is how most Berkeley restaurants prepare them, but I definitely wouldn't be able to manage that right now!
I think I could probably manage a simple pad Thai if I ordered it without the peanuts. And I know Racha Cafe (a Thai restaurant near us) used to do a great minced chicken dish with basil ... I should check out their menu to see if they still have it. It would be great to be able to expand my flavor/texture palette! Time to brainstorm other foods that are soft-but-a-bit-chewy (like pasta) and/or in very small pieces (like ground beef). Many Italian dishes, obviously ... but any other suggestions? Minced meats, mushrooms ... tofu (even firm tofu should probably be okay, as long as it's not fried to make it crispy) ... spinach ... flaky fish ... fried rice with the tiny diced BBQ pork (like they do at King Dong) ... all these exciting new possibilities!
EDITED TO ADD: When going out for lunch today between my two appointments, I found it difficult to find a restaurant that had food I could comfortably eat, but ended up having pancakes at Crepevine in Rockridge. So apparently pancakes are now possible, too, though I left the crispy edges behind & mostly just ate the comparatively mushy middle part.
EDITED TO ADD: Still can't let anything touch the graft sites, including not only food but also my tongue and my toothbrush. This requires an uncomfortable degree of vigilance.