Monday, November 5, 2007

Gruel and unusual punishments

I have osteopenia – not osteoporosis. Osteopenia means “less bone,” a thinning of the bones. I consider myself lucky my bones haven’t turned totally to Swiss cheese from years of constant dieting, heavy smoking since my teens (no, not for some years now), and simply from being a Caucasian female with a small frame. Then there is the bad luck of having a grandma who, in her early nineties, stood up one day and her fragile hip broke under the weight of her 98 pounds...

You are likely to have osteopenia, too, to some degree, if you are female and done with menopause, have ever engaged in some of the same dumb behaviors cited above, taken medication for a thyroid condition, or, at some point in your life, taken corticosteroids for three or more months.

In an effort to thwart the onset of osteoporosis, my gynecologist has had me on the highest dosage (70mg.) of the bone building drug, Fosamax, for several years. But a while back, articles and advertisements started popping up in newspapers and popular publications about a possible side affect to Fosamax -- a condition known as Osteonecrosis of the Jaw (ONJ), commonly referred to in the popular press as “Jaw Death.”

It would seem that cases were being noted in the medical literature of women taking bisphosphonate bone building drugs (Foxamax, Actonel, Boniva, et al) who, following dental surgery, became victims of the condition in which bone tissue in the jaw does not heal after minor traumas. Dental extractions and implants led to fractures and infections requiring long-term antibiotic therapy that did not always work and, often, to surgery for removal of dead and dying jaw bone tissue.

Throngs of tort attorneys began sniffing the air, scavenging for wounded bisphosphonate users in hopes of large Jaw Death civil action settlements. (Google “Fosamax” and one of the first links will take you to a consent form you can fill out and send to a concerned attorney.)

Which brings me to my obsession about false teeth….

I have one. I do not want anything to do with having false teeth. I apologize if I offend; it’s a blind, stupid prejudice that has lodged in my mind, and despite all logic, evidence, fact, and warm family stories about grandpa’s false teeth, I view having them with horror.

Sadly, however, coupled with my osteopenia is the fact I also suffer from periodontal disease. Eleven teeth gone missing in as many years. (No wonder I’m beginning to explore vegetarian foods.) Dim prospects for the future twenty-one.

I dream of clacking sets of startling white teeth.

Recently, however, due to improved technology and techniques, my periodontist, Steve, has offered me the option of dental implants. I can have two “teeth” planted in a fertile compost of cow bone and collagen surgically plugged into appropriate sinus cavities. While they wouldn’t "grow," they would become permanent parts of me. Maybe. The procedure is not guaranteed.

Two implants would cost $4,000, not payable by insurance. And then there is that nasty little risk of osteonecrosis of the jaw.

I’ll keep you posted.

Here's the Gruel portion

I love looking at food photography on the Internet. The most arresting photos seem to be attached to blogs* rather than commercially-sponsored sites. These photos truly seem a new art form. If you don’t think of it that way, give it a try. The photo of the bowl of oatmeal for this blog, after about a half dozen shots and 50 different edits, does nothing so much as evoke meager gruel on a dark, cold winter morning.

And it’s too bad. I enjoy oatmeal and wanted something attractive to entice some of you to explore its benefits. Oh, well…Anyway, the secret is to put stuff in oatmeal that makes it taste good. Sort of like what one does with tofu.

For instance:

  • I slice up overripe bananas and put them in snack bags and then in a big freezer bag to use for smoothies. But with cold weather coming on, I plop a baggie of bananas in my “quick” oats (not instant) and microwave for 2 and a half minutes. Then I stir in a big dollop of peanut butter.

Then there’s a more traditional variation:

  • Peanut butter and strawberry jam

  • Apple butter (a really good, spicy kind)

  • Toasted walnuts and raisins

  • And probably best tasting of all is walnuts and toasted coconut. But since there is not a single redeeming nutritional quality to coconut I don’t have that version too often.

  • My one cocoa attempt wasn’t all that great, but I’ll try it again with some vanilla maybe.

Any suggestions from your end?


Aunt Rose

* One of the best photo and food (unusual, extraordinarily tasty, international vegetarian) blogs that I’ve found is Heidi Swanson’s 101 Cookbooks. Follow this link to her world of beautiful and delicious foodstuffs