When you have to think to swallow

One of the scarier moments for me in this life with multiple sclerosis is when my throat closes up and refused to allow me to swallow. Many times I have to actually convince those muscles to actually function. Last night was one of those times.

I had a cup of water by my bedside, elevated the head of my hospital bed, reached over for my drink and took a sip. That was when things went sideways. I attempted to swallow but nothing seemed to happen. The muscles in my throat just wouldn’t move. It took me about 2 minutes to get my body to cooperate. I came so close to just spitting everything out and calling it a day.

The hardest time is when something in my mouth goes down the wrong way and I end up having a coughing fit. I have noticed that water is sometimes too thin of a liquid for me to deal with. If the drink has a little bit of a texture or thickness to it, I do much better. Things like orange juice, a smoothie, a milkshake and even a cup of coffee with creamer work better for me.

And people wonder why we are always so exhausted. Maybe it’s because we have to work overtime all day long in order to do the things everyone else takes for granted. When you have to think to walk, think to swallow, think to remember words, think to even scratch your nose…well, that’s a lot of exhaustive thinking and would wear out even the healthiest person around.

I wish there was a switch I could flip to make my muscles work as they were intended or a program I could write to override the glitches in my system. That would make my days so much easier to manage and would be a welcomed improvement.

My morning coffee is not as enjoyable as it used to be but I still make myself a cup each morning anyway. Sometimes I don’t get it all down and end up pouring half of it down the drain…but sometimes I don’t. This morning I finished my cup and for that I’m thankful. It’s the little things in life that really matter anyway.

Life has drastically changed because of multiple sclerosis but I will never give up looking for sunshine in the clouds. This morning I found a rainbow in my coffee cup, tomorrow maybe I will find one in the laundry. Hey, anything’s possible!

MS Gets on My NervesMS WarriorMS Superhero


6 replies
  1. Rodger Ashton-Smith
    Rodger Ashton-Smith says:

    Thanks Penelope it seems we all have a similar problem at some times. I have had a swallowing problem when having some food and that was annoying. It came right as quick as it came, but was so frustrating when it happened I hope it never comes back. Dreams are free though.

  2. gary
    gary says:

    hello,last year i started choking whenever i started to drink water,it ended up with me in the hospital with pneumonia caused by water going into my lungs.i hadto add this thickening power to the drink so it would go down the right way.since then i found that i had no problems with any drink that was carbonated,no probiems at all with soda while in hospital.so now all i drink is seltzer water from my sodastream machine.problem solved.

  3. Eileen
    Eileen says:

    This is just how it is with me. It might be liquid or it might be solid – it does not matter.
    I cant get it down and I cant get it back up. Its just stuck in my throat and the longer its there, the less I can breathe.
    I was told I look like a cat that’s trying to cough up a hair ball so I just laughed insanely at that, as I tend to do a lot these days. Still, I’ve got my silver lining – I get to slide down the stairs, that is when I can get myself out of bed. Such fun! 🙂

  4. Stephen Harris
    Stephen Harris says:

    I use a CPAP at night, and I’ve found that when it is on, swallowing becomes nearly impossible and requires a great deal of thought and effort. You’ve explained here why we are so tired. Not only do our brains work overtime just to process automatic functions like breathing and heart-beating, swallowing, grasping with fingers and remembering how to make that all important coffee need more energy. I wish I could go to Wal-Mart and buy a box of THOSE spoons.


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