Believe it or not, there are some aspects of living with multiple sclerosis I have yet to write about.
So far I haven’t had any of the, ahem, bathroom issues. And I would like to think that I would spare myself and others the mortifying experience of actually sharing that if I did. Then again, as my previous posts have demonstrated, pretty much nothing is sacred or all that private.
But this post has to do with the other end of things, which is at the beginning, actually.
What I am experiencing with alarming frequency is dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing.
Lesions can essentially make any area of the body a serious pain in the ass, whether it’s jelly legs or numb hands or bladder problems or throat issues.
Sometimes, I have to summon the strength to swallow, practically Jedi mind trick the throat to work. The throat has several muscles, and it takes most of them to go through the actual act, which is normally pretty automatic.
It’s one of those small miracles of the human body we take for granted, like breathing. I know I’d never given it much thought until I couldn’t do it.
And when you can’t — physically can’t — go through with a gulp, it is so panic-inducing that you can feel your throat closing up and your mouth drying up.
I’m 90 percent confident that anxiety plays a role in this. How could it not? It’s more than a little difficult to stay calm and carry on when in the throes of a tightening throat.
To give an idea of the cycle — can’t swallow. Panic. Throat closing. An actual lump? More panic. More not swallowing, followed by more panic. Dying. I am dying. Rinse. Repeat.
Then, miracle of miracles, a swallow. Followed by a sigh of relief. Then a big gulp, just to make sure I still can.