Posted By: jordan swallowing food - 05-12-2007 09:35 PM
I am a newbie to this site & I am 8 weeks out of radiation. I had radiation & 2 cycles of chemo- I have recently started eating & anything I eat takes FOREVER to get down & a gallon of water. It took me 25 minutes to eat a frozen waffle today. I'm trying to gain weight ( i still have my feeding tube but want to get rif of it). It is so hard to eat till I'm full cuz it takes me SO LONG...and my jaw gets sore from the chewing, chewing, chewing. PLEASE tell me it's not going to be like this forever. I may get my throat dialated. Does eating get back to normal in the future? Does the tongue stop burning? Thanks for the help. I'm 31 & love food....I'm praying I will be able to eat "normally" again someday.
Posted By: Cathy G Re: swallowing food - 05-12-2007 10:37 PM

I went through very similar experiences when I was dealing with the after-effects of radiation. I always had to cut solid food into tiny pieces and rinse with lots of water to get them down my throat. As I recall (it's been a long time) it often took me two hours or so at lunch time and another two hours at dinner time to get something resembling a reasonable amount of nutrition.

It did get better over time, with lots of exercise of the chewing and swallowing muscles. While I've never become a "fast" eater, I was able to get much closer to a normal pace and really enjoy the taste of a wide variety of foods again. I was 39 when I was treated and I'm 57 now, and in retrospect the period of my life when my eating habits were seriously restricted has (thankfully) become a dim memory.

Healing from radiation can take many months, but it sounds like you're on the way. Try to be patient and you should continue to see improvement over time.

Posted By: JoAnne1981 Re: swallowing food - 05-12-2007 11:43 PM
Hi Jordan,

Jack had the same problem after treatment ended. Yes it does get better, the sores heal, and now he's able to eat in just about the same timeframes as I am. His eating is pretty close to normal.

It's all about the calories at the point you are at. Get them any way you can. As long as you can maintain weight they can remove the tube. Gaining it back may take longer so don't worry about that. You can blend up the tube feeding formula with ice creams, chocolate, or make up smoothies with protein mix. If soft foods are easier right now, so what, it's calories.

Jack went on a schedule of small frequent eating attempts based on a total number of calories each day. That spread it out so he didn't get as full or as tired. Remember you are building the muscles back and chewing does that, but you need to think of it as exercise where muscles fatigue as they are used.

Regards JoAnne
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