Cerebral Palsy is not progressive. However, our bodies wear out quicker than others, so in a sense the symptoms become progressively worse. I have seen this in my hands, wrists, speech and back. Recently, I have had issues with eating and swallowing. Choking is always a concern, as life saving measures are difficult in a wheelchair. I consulted a specialist and he ordered a swallow study.
Prepping for Swallow Study
The night before I was really nervous and could not sleep. However, I was not listening very well during my last appointment and thought I had to be put under for this procedure. I lost sleep for nothing, I will be put under for my EDG next week, so I will lose sleep again! There was no prep for this test other than to show up for the appointment!
Our first stop was the ENT Department at Marshfield Clinic Wausau. We met with the speech therapist, Lisa. She asked a few questions and did a quick exam. My mom and I found out that swallowing and chewing issues are not uncommon with individuals with CP as they age. Although no one wants to develop issues, it is comforting to know this is not out of the ordinary.
Our next stop was the radiology department. We were led into a room with a large x-ray machine. We met Mary Kay, who was one of those people you describe as a “character”. She had us laughing through the swallow study.
My chair had to be maneuvered into a small space. Thankfully my mom is an ace at getting my chair into such spaces without taking anyone out. I, on the other hand, would probably have destroyed the brand new x-ray machine!
It was intimidating, but everyone was reassuring and joking around. This all put me at ease. A tray with several foods of different textures was next to my tray. Unfortunately, they did not have gluten free options for the crackers. We decided the small amount needed to do the swallow study would not do too much harm, so we went ahead with what they had. Next time we know to bring our own GF crackers.
As everyone was getting the x-ray positioned and ready, I caught sight of my skull on the screen! Talk about a freaky experience. I can leave it to my mom to help relieve my stress with a joke. She pointed to the screen and said “That is what you will look like in about 60-70 years! I am not sure if others appreciated her joke, but I did!
The Swallow Study was super easy and I soon discovered all my worrying was for nothing! Watching my skull chew and swallow was totally cool! The pre-exam and set up took way longer than the swallow study itself. Basically, I ate and swallowed a few spoonfuls of food, that was it.
Lisa consulted with us immediately after the Swallow Study. She gave me the all clear! My muscles involved in swallowing are all working properly. My airway is working during the swallowing process too. That was all a relief! Next stop is the EDG next week.
Until next time, Keep Rollin’ and Keep Smilin’!