Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sweeter Than Applesauce

Two to three times a week, I meet with a therapist (or two) for "Oral Function Therapy". The trick is to urge back my swallowing abilities with a series of exercises designed to flex certain muscles in my throat and mouth.
There is also some type of electrical therapy involved that requires electrodes attached to my neck to deliver a massaging level of shock to the muscles. Kind weird,that one.

This has been going on for several weeks,now.

Toward the end of today's session, Mrs. Therapist decided to have me try swallowing a small amount of applesauce. Since the surgery, I've been able to get about 1/2 teaspoon of water/soda/thin liquid to go down, but no more than that. And nothing thicker than that,either.
After all these weeks of therapy, I was sure I must be in possession of some small level of improvement, so I was eager to give the applesauce a try, and cautiously swallowed about 1/4 of a teaspoon.
I tried to, anyway.

The applesauce stuck in my throat, just above my voice box, not going anywhere.
OK, it's not working.
I hocked up into a bucket and made two more attempts that ended the same way.
Disheartened, I made my way home.

It's been nearly five months now. The first couple of months were really hard psychologically. Probably it being holiday time didn't help, as holidays are always celebrated with food. But since the first of the year, I don't really dwell on it and take it all in stride.
After all, there are lots of folks out there struggling through far worse physical predicaments, and there is, truly, nothing I can't do but this one exception.
And in my favor: I've lost all that weight I'd put on since high school, and my cholesterol and blood pressure are back to normal levels.

So, it's no big deal.
I'm OK with it.
And it sure beats the alternative.
An aside:
A couple weeks ago, I was giving my neurosurgeon a playful hard time, commenting through my pathetically weak and raspy voice how great life was until he 'fixed' me.
He laughed along, and then turned to me, in all seriousness: "If we hadn't fixed you when we did, you wouldn't be laying here right now."
Yeah, I'd be at home eating breakfast,drinking coffee,getting ready for work...
"No, you wouldn't be going to work"
True. I always take vacation this time of year. How'd you know?
"You wouldn't be on vacation,either. You'd likely be laying somewhere else."
That bad?
"You're lucky we got it when we did."
But it wasn't cancerous.
"It didn't need to be."

So, there it was. The first time I got an almost straight answer as to how serious everything was.
Anyway,back to...
Things have gotten better. I can now pucker, blow my wife a kiss, and let out a small whistle when I want to. This wasn't possible just two months ago.
Yeah, this is a long slog, but the distance does grow shorter by the day.
And that is a good thing.

Despite my positive attitude, I still get a little down on occasion. I should say, "let down" , because it only happens when I have some expectation of 'better' that ends up not panning out as hoped.
And I'm usually over it in short order.

Today was one of those rare days.

But instead of feeling down, I was just plain pissed off.
And not pissed off at my situation.
I was pissed off at applesauce. Does this make any sense?
I didn't think so.

I got home, and after walking into the kitchen I see first, a package on the table, and right there, on the counter, glaring at me: a jar of applesauce. Tauntingly, saying: "Bet you want some of this."
No, I don't.
Why don't you go to hell?
"Face it,punk. I beat you."

Now I'm cursing at jars of dead fruit...

I turn my attention instead to the package.
I don't remember ordering anything.
A glance at the return address brings a smile.
Still not knowing what, I tear it open like a kid.
Enclosed is a card: "A quilt is a hug that is always there for you."
Inside: a comfy quilt made from plaid flannel shirt material.
Somebody knows my style.
Feeling better already, I stretched out in my recliner and took a nap, pleasantly draped in the coolest. quilt. ever.

You've made my day.
Thank you!


Jade said...

You're very welcome, and I'm glad you like it! :)

kr said...

You made me laugh and then almost cry ... I'm glad you had such a fabulous end to your day.

(and Jade: well played :). )

Guitarman said...

That's gotta be hard to taste something, feel it texture and not be able to swallow it!

tully said...

Oh- yeah, sorry: My quilt got lost in the mail...

But it's the thought that counts!