Hard to write

There are so many reasons why it is more difficult to write right now.

The main one is that I have no time. The second one is that I am really tired (again). The third one is that I want to spend every waking moment with my family, while I can still talk to them, eat with them, play with them, laugh with them.

I think that my last post was just after the appointment on Wednesday at the hospital. Since then I have had more advice on what is coming and how to deal with it. I have also had time to cogitate a little and to have some (more) bad dreams.

Hmmm – now I feel ready to say that I believe it is pointless to anticipate too much: the operation will probably be completely different from what I am (overfeverishly) imagining – when I can’t keep my thoughts under control. Also, the time afterwards, when I am still on the ward, will probably also be the opposite of what I am expecting.

So, I shall attempt not to imagine. (Tough one, that.)

Thank God, life at home has been great since the last hospital visit, so I feel quite well equipped to deal with tomorrow (GP to get an Überweisung /referral to an internist and also to get a thorough blood check before the operation) and then with Tuesday and Wednesday as well. (Tuesday is school stuff for Little Miss BD and Wednesday, I am back at the hospital:)

The energy I get from home is worth more than something very valuable – it is self-propelling energy which comes right back at me. Pow! Like a Batman punch. It wakes me up again and reminds me to exude and enjoy. If I didn’t have my kids and my man, there would only be the hole that is my soul.

Poisonous green liqueur
Poisonous-looking green walnut liqueur many months too early (Nocino)

Look at this! Hubby is on his mission to make an even better evil-looking green walnut liqueur than last year! I don’t really mind how this one turns out – it’ll be good even without all his anxiety about the correct day to harvest, the correct place to store, the correct length of time to stand and mature and and and…

As long as he carries on experimenting, there’ll be some gems for me amongst his inventions (Apple Strudel liqueur and Spiced Plum Compote with Chocolate Gingerbread liqueur being two of his notable successes) – yum yum!

Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite.

Big day tomorrow…

I do want to tell you about my physio session last night as it was particularly memorable.

Due to my having drunk a smoothie shortly before the session started (otherwise I would have not had anything to eat or drink for a good few hours), I ended up making those terribly loud stomach-gurgling noises for almost the entire 50 minutes. Barefoot physio guru didn’t say anything, of course, and continued kneading and tweaking at me, but I was inwardly cringing.

People like physios and pedicurists get to do quite intimate things to your body, and yet you don’t know them from Larry sometimes. That means that if your body behaves in a natural manner and expels air when you are relaxed, it can lead to a peculiar scenario where you are revealing your private foibles to an almost stranger.

Luckily, when I went to my orthodontic Frau Doktor this morning – for the BIG check-up – no awful grumbles issues from any part of me.

She was looking at The Gap and wanted to see if it was large enough for Mr Surgeon to get his saw through. After having been ogled manually, I was X-rayed as well and she seemed satisfied with the result. To my eyes, it looks quite narrow, so I am hoping that Mr Surgeon has lots of experience and a steady hand. (Mind you, I would hope that all surgeons have steady hands…)

Mouth 5 June

I must admit that I want to get started with the operative procedure now.

It is nearly exactly a year (21st June 2017) since I first visited the hospital and met Mr Surgeon and his team.

After that appointment, I went home and rang Mum.

I was scared of the thought of such a big op and she reassured me, and also promised that she would come over to stay with us, so that she could visit me in the hospital.

Little did we know that 16 weeks later I would be visiting her in hospital; not once, not twice, but four times between the beginning of November and Christmas.

She passed away on 27th December.

So much has changed since my first trip to the Jaw Institute and I feel like my brain is playing catch-up with my body.

People are continually commenting on my mouth and my teeth, yet fewer people think about the changes inside of me. No-one has said that I’ve changed since I have no mother anymore. No-one has congratulated me on managing to cope with becoming an orphan.

I don’t actually expect anyone to – that would be a script or a screenplay. In real life, I cannot expect anything from anyone, yet a tiny part of me would love an acknowledgement from someone, anywhere, that I am managing well. Motivating yourself constantly is draining and my body needs all my energy right now to cope with the physical.

Aaargh – I fell into the pit of self-pity again there, didn’t I?

Let’s be blunt: I miss my Mum; I wish that I had had a dad, so that at least there would have been some emotional groundwork; I feel scared and I am tired of coping.

But I’ve got Hubby and my kids. I am blessed with some good friends and I am very happy and content with my life as it is. In fact, I very much love this life and that is why it is great that I have the chance to make it better and get repaired before my jaw goes on strike forever and I cannot eat or talk anymore!

A life with no opportunity to enjoy food and to communicate using my mouth would be a dull one indeed…

 

Foods you can eat without chewing

Since September last year, I have been learning to eat with a fixed brace. There have been many weeks where the ulcers and/or jaw problems have meant that I cannot chew or move my jaw adequately. As I am a woman who loves her food, it is of greatest importance to me that I can substitute usual food with ‘no chew’ alternatives.

So, here is a summary of items that I have learned to love due to their ‘no chew’ qualities! (This will be very funny to look back on after the orthodontic treatment is over!)

As previously mentioned in this blog, those fruit pouches made for toddlers are a lifesaver – no need to struggle with apple or pear skin. Related to the pouches, and also slightly more ‘adult’ are the ubiquitous smoothies. Current favourites are the red or green ‘Spar’ Enjoy smoothies.

If I need protein, I go for tinned mussels in garlic butter: super for squidging between tongue and roof of mouth. Soft sausages (frankfurters, Berner Würstel – frankfurters stuffed with cheese and wrapped round with rashers of bacon) and pate are extremely useful.

The amount of guacamole I am currently getting through is obscene. I try to alternate it with hummus, but the guacamole usually wins. As bread is a big problem because of the crust, I am eating savoury shortbread (yum!), oat cakes or rice crackers. (Marmite flavour rice crackers are divine – and disintegrate beautifully when you suck.)

Crisps were a problem – I mean the traditional ones made out of potato, but I have of course identified the best ones for sucking now. Highly recommended by me are Kelly’s Erdnuss Snips. (Not to be consumed by those with a peanut allergy…)

I think I should stop writing about food now (although I could continue) as a) it is 9pm and I want to see my husband today and b) most people are probably not as interested in my ramblings today as they might be, if I were writing more inclusively ;-).

I took two more photos today for you. One is of food (*gg*) – squeaky leeks and Mairübchen (early/spring turnips?) which the kids don’t know yet  is in their pasta bake for tomorrow. (Don’t worry – I have made it child-friendly by chucking loads of bread croutons and cheese on top which went crispy in the oven.)

The second photo is of Little Miss BD’s lovely trainers that are now at the end of their useful life. I don’t really want to say goodbye to them, so this photo helped me to chuck them in the dustbin successfully earlier.

I know today’s entry has been peculiar: please forgive me, dear reader. My mood is unusual.

It seems to me rather a paradox that complete strangers are participating more in my life than flesh and blood is. However, this does not need to be a bad thing. I think I just need to accept that even if my life is not celebrated as I expect, it is a life and I want to celebrate it.

The banal, the usual, the unusual.

Saturday in nature

As you can see below, we spent some of yesterday outdoors. I am a great fan of Friedensreich Hundertwasser. His ideas regarding straight lines and flat surfaces touched a chord in me when I first came across him, after a visit to the council flats he designed in Vienna. Ever since then, I have noticed more and understood why I feel so good after time spent in a wood or forest.

Yesterday we all felt that we would profit from some fresh air and exercise, so we went to our local hill/mountain (delete as appropriate, depending on your nationality), the Harzberg.

It does not matter how often we go walking in the woods, the effect is always the same: predictable and miraculous. The smell of the foliage and detritus produces a relaxation reflex in all of us. As soon as we breathe in deeply, it is as if we have swallowed some happy pill: the cares of the week slide off your shoulders and you feel better, stronger, happier.

The colours yesterday were particularly impressive. We were lucky and the rain which had been forecast did not materialise, leaving the sky to blaze blue and the trees to radiate bright green.

I spotted a rather serious-looking mushroom (see below) and Little Miss BD stopped me just in time from walking into the little fella bungee-jumping from nowhere to nowhere (well, as far as we could see).

The walk took us up to the top and as is now becoming habit, after originally stopping ‘for a coffee’, we ended up eating due to the well-known and oft-tested tastiness of their soups and filled pancakes. (We had the coffees too!)

I swear that when this brace finally comes off (autumn 2019?), I shall avoid soup for a good while and train my jaw to chew again. I am eternally grateful that there are so many good potages to choose from, but I do feel like an OAP 25 years too early sometimes. I should Twitter Nigel Slater (@NigelSlater) and get him to sympathise with me: cf. Eating for England ‘Feeding the Elderly’.

 

Something good, something bad

Shrine

Many thoughts meandering through my head today: is it good that I am now free from family? Does it mean that I can stop worrying about the minutiae? Did I ever have any right to expect anything? Why do I feel like I have two bereavements to deal with? Will my children be alright? Can they understand the convoluted family situation I have been in? Will I ever be able to have a normal conversation with my Oma again? Why does having a sibling not always help you when you lose your parents? Why too many times.

I am actually fed up with considering family issues and happy that next week will be full of orthodontic issues instead.

On Monday I am being tweaked and rubbed at the physio. On Tuesday I am seeing my orthodontist with the soft hands, who will check my gap to see if it can be integrated into a new motorway flyover. Then, on Wednesday I get to go into town (actually a real city, but the proximity to here makes it hard to say I’m going into the city) and visit my surgeon who will tell me all he feels I need to know before the big op. I will then ask him all the stuff he omits to tell me, as I am now extremely curious about what is coming.

I wonder if I shall want to photograph myself and send photos to my dentist and orthodontist, as apparently some people do? I wonder how groggy I shall feel after such a long op? I wonder what colour my skin will be and if the colour will really migrate downwards onto my chest? (Does bruising like that hurt? None of my bruises have ever been more than a mild annoyance up to now.) I wonder how long I shall be in the hospital and how many books I shall be able to verschlingen that time? I wonder if I shall be shocked when I see my face again? I mean, even if my brain wonders at the difference in the mirror, won’t my heart cancel that thought out? I wonder if I shall experience a Wunder.

Work was busy, busy, busy today and as I wasn’t home, the clan got to guzzle ice-cream in the pouring rain without me. Herr Pfarrer was being generous again, inviting all the altar girls and boys to the local ice-cream parlour. Little Miss BD was creative as always with her choice of flavours: mango, Heiße Liebe and smurf(!); groovy son was more conservative – I wasn’t really surprised with his vanilla/chocolate/hazelnut combo; the exciting report for me was from Dedi who went completely off-piste with – wait for it!!! – rum & raisin combined with Kuschelrock (what a fantastic name!), which is egg-nog and caramel. Now that is something I must try 🙂

 

 

Barefoot physio guru, TCM & TEM

Tuesday and Wednesday were quite busy, so now is the first Verschnaufpause I’ve had. It is a Bank Holiday today – Fronleichnam (Corpus Christi) – which means a welcome break from the 6am alarm clock.

Tuesday involved a visit to my physio guy – barefoot guru. He seems to know his stuff: physiotherapists are not generally trained in jaw treatment and that obviously means that they need to know their stuff.

I’ve learned an awful lot whilst being there and it is not something I would ever have been interested in, off my own bat, so to say. This week was extremely relaxing, which I needed, as all else around me is very hectic.

Guru keeps telling me to avoid stress; however, I am not actively choosing to create stress in my life. It just follows me around at the moment. There are no elements I could switch off to make life quieter. Everything happening is happening whether I like it or not, so I need to do my best to deal with it. (Therefore, a session on the physio’s table is not unwelcome, simply for the opportunity to keep still and quiet for a short time.)

Wednesday was a rare chance to meet up with an old friend (my bridesmaid) and to chew the fat. She knew Mum, she knows about all the family stuff and she is a keen New Ager, so we had plenty to discuss. Her opinions involve lots of TCM/esoteric input, and while I am more of a fan of local TEM, it means we have a lot to chat about.

We spent the time in a local Heuriger – these taverns are very traditional, serving only local food and wine – and I was able to give my full attention to some great Zweigelt and soft food: Leberknödelsuppe, Erdäpfelschmarrn and Schwarzwurzelsalat. (In case you are interested: liver dumplings in beef consommé, refried potatoes and salsify salad.) It was all extremely yummy and did not involve active chewing, just squashing with help from the tongue.

Talking for so long with my friend was a strain on my jaw, but worth every minute. Unfortunately it reminded me that the op is not so long away and yes, I am nervous. I trust my surgeon, but I am nervous of having my face altered so drastically. I have no idea what talking, eating and breathing will be like afterwards and wish I had someone in my circle of acquaintances I could interview. Someone else who is not doing an operation like this for cosmetic reasons, but for medical ones. I keep meeting criticism for my choice in going ahead with this treatment and I want to yell from the rooftops (instead I am pleading via a keyboard) that I am only doing this so that I can carry on being fit and healthy for my kids.

I hope I will be able to be a great-grandmother for them one day – one who takes her grandchildren out, with their grandfather and is able to be part of an extended family.

Speaking of grandmothers: my children wanted me to wear my shower cap out in public as a swimming cap (see below) which I thought twice about. Then I bought a grey swimming cap.

(FYI: the candle pictured is burning now as I write. It is called Bergwelt and reminds me of the depth of the clear air far away from here, in the mountains, where you and I are just specks in the whole scheme of things.)

Someone like me…?

After yesterday (which was tough), I find myself starting today with a little optimism. Although I sent messages to the other 3 people left, missing Mum as much as I, I only received 1 message back.

At first, it hurt. I feel so alone sometimes, with my decimated family and no-one to share my feelings with. My children are too young to replace an adult and my husband is not the right person to share these memories with. Firstly, they are not his memories and secondly, every time I utter the words ‘I miss Mum,’ I know that he misses his mum too. And he had her for less time than I had mine.

No, he is not the right one.

So, maybe you are…? ‘You’ are many faceless, nameless people all over this world, but there must be some of you like me…? People who have only ever wanted to fit in, to be normal, to have a family that they can describe with pride to their friends.

Back in my childhood, although divorced families were still unusual, there were some others. Other kids being brought up by a single parent. I made friends with some of them – not surprisingly. I wanted allies.

But even with them, there was always the difference that they knew their missing parent. They might not live in the same house, but there was a relationship there. They even got to see their missing parent sometimes. Weekends away, staying somewhere else, being included in a new family set-up with step-parents and maybe even half-brothers or -sisters. On their birthdays, there was an acknowledgement (even if it wasn’t perfect: wrong present, too little money given) that this child was also something to do with them.

Oh, how I wanted that: an acknowledgement that I mattered and that my birth had meant something. The issues with my mum meant that we were not close for a long time and she often told me how I made her life harder. Now I am older, of course I understand that many words were uttered in haste and regretted afterwards. Yet, the feeling remained branded into my soul that I was unwelcome in life and all I wanted was to be normal, wanted, welcomed, celebrated.

So, turn off the tap and tell us all something else.

Head food

Nellie on the hunt for lettuce 😉

Today, the birds twittered (like yesterday) by my bedroom window as I rose and they are twittering outside this living-room right now. I wanted to add a sound file here,but my technological capabilities have gone off somewhere and so I shall finish off simply by saying that it really did sound beautiful.

Wherever you are and however your life is treating you, the world and God’s creatures are always a reminder that there is good to be found everywhere.

Night night, sleep tight.