Yes, swallowing therapist. I know, it’s embarrassing.
My oncologist made me do it. Sure swallowing is painful, but I assured her I was doing okay so far.
“Fine, don’t go. I’m not your mother, do what you want. Let your jaw seize up on you and you’ll go blind or… whatever.”
So, I caved and made an appointment with James. My new swallowing guru. I am positive at some point in his life, young James was an Eagle Scout… and Eagle Scouts, while usually fine upstanding citizens… are by definition… annoying.
While I was busy reading Daredevil comic books and building rubber band guns, Eagle Scout boys were out there… achieving things. What twelve year old boy wakes us every day yearning to “achieve” anything?
I got fifty bucks on James
As he walked me back to his “swallowtorium” I couldn’t quite figure out why James the “swallowing therapist” came to work dressed in a track suit. Maybe James is one of those guys who go through life feeling they need to be prepared should the opportunity to pole vault suddenly arise.
“Okay, I’d like to watch you swallow some canned peaches.” I have been asked to do many weird things in my life, this was a new one.
So, James watched me swallow peaches, applesauce and a host of other soft foods and then deemed me an excellent swallower. He explained that radiation tightens and dries out muscles, that your jaw can indeed clamp up on you and that the skin and muscles in your mouth lose elasticity and that if you don’t watch out you could go blind or whatever.
Then after spending twenty minutes with his fingers in my mouth, he was convinced he had done all he could for one day. He gave me a bunch of swallowing exercises – (Don’t laugh, try biting your tongue and swallowing at the same time) – and walked me out, wished me luck, and promptly turned around and walked face first into the door.
I guess his mountaineering badge didn’t come in handy there.