Can You Taste This?
Three years ago, I started having trouble swallowing and breathing. The extensive radiation treatments to my neck had caused my vocal cords to become paralyzed, making breathing difficult. My ENT doctor referred me to a laryngologist who told me he could do things to make breathing easier. I was relieved because I sure thought, “I went through a rough cancer treatment and now the scar tissue in my throat and my larynx was going to do me in.” My doctor told me that he would try a Botox shot in my vocal cords first. A second option involved an operation to create a permanent opening in my vocal cord, and the last thing would be a stent in my neck. Well I knew what route I was going to go. I had a trach tube back in 2000 and I sure didn’t want another. You see back then, those things stuck out further than my nose and was a pain in the butt to take care of. My doctor said we would try Botox first and then go from there. I was so sure after the first Botox shot things would work, and if all I had to do was go every 3 to 4 months and have a shot in my vocal cords, that was no biggie. You see, I have had so much radiation around my neck I can’t feel anything anyway. When I went to go get the second Botox shot, that is when things started going bad. I had a bad reaction to the Botox. I called him and told him I could not breathe and he said to go to the emergency room at the local medical school. (Note from the wife: The blender man put off having me call the doctor until almost the end of the day despite the fact he was gasping for breath. Why do men do that?) I was there for 10 days and ended up getting a stoma stent (a permanent hole in my neck) and a feeding tube. I wasn’t so much worried about the stent when I saw what it was and how much better it had improved. And I could breathe. You don’t even notice the stent unless you know to look for it and besides it has a speaking valve that fits in it so I can talk without covering the hole. But the best thing of all is, I can breathe. He said when I take it out or it falls out, I won’t have to worry about the hole in my neck closing because he sewed a flap open so it would stay open like that forever. Since my vocal cords don’t open and close normally, especially when I swallow, I am at risk for aspirating food into my lungs so he suggested a feeding tube. I was upset and scared. When I eventually got the feeding tube in and started pumping food in the hospital, I got color back in my cheeks and felt good. The nurses taught my wife and I how to feed myself how to clean the tube and everything that went with a feeding tube.
I know I have said this before but this is worth repeating. My wife researched feeding tubes and what all went with them. When we together came up with our plan for me to eat the same old food as I usually did, we got the blender and went to work. As each month has gone by, we are getting better. When I would blend my dinner up, which was the same as my wife’s, I made her taste mine and see if she could taste what I had cooked and she said she could. Well I can taste it too, not by putting my finger in the food mixture, but when I pump it in. Anything you put in your system, you will get a kick back like burping.
I have throat exercises I do each day, at least 3 times a day so if there is a chance I can eat something by mouth, my muscles will still work. I can tell you if I don’t ever to get to eat anything by mouth, that is ok, because I find things taste much better going through my tube than my throat. I think that is because of all the radiation I had did such a damage to my throat. Pumping in through my tube makes the food taste as it did before I had cancer. I prefer the taste of food through the tube over by mouth, which is unreal as I was so dead set against a tube. Now I have regained the taste of food and I don’t find it a job to eat like it used to be before the tube. I tell you having the old taste back gives me the confidence I can conquer anything now that I have more nourishment in my system. My appetite is better. I am putting on weight and loving food and drink again.
When a feeding tube is mentend to you, it isn’t the end of the world, but the start of a new beginning to get you back to where you were before the tube was put in and a much better outlook on life.
I decided to take pictures of things I blend so it can show you that anything is possible with a feeding tube. Pictures help put in focus of how things look, work, and most of all, taste. I also found out because you are pumping straight in to your system you have a faster reaction to food, drink, medications, or anything you pump in your body.
I hope this helps gives you other options than Boost, Ensure, or Jevity. You owe it to yourself to at least try in some way what I have talked about, besides what have you got to lose. My blog is going to be different things other than meals. I have tried to pick out different foods that are affected by the level of water you add when blending and pumping in. There is a big difference in the different starches you add to your meals, believe me, I have found out first hand. My goal is to have the same taste as I knew it before, but thin enough to go through my tube and still get the nourishment I need. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
Blind Blender Man