Posted By: Modanisa Swallowing Difficulty - 09-05-2021 07:37 AM
Hello Everyone, I'm new to this forum but I would like to give thanks to everyone for all the information and for sharing

My husband is currently still in the hospital. Today is his 10th day and will be released tomorrow. He is 73 and had 75% of his tongue removed, and thankfully pathology reports confirmed that his mouth is cancer free. Unfortunately it did metastasize to his neck, two on the right and one of the left. Early stages and the doctor is certain that with 6 weeks of radiation and 5 rounds of chemo, he will be fine. His treatment will start in 4 weeks. Now he is still recovering from the surgery.

Until today, he is finding it hard to swallow. We have been practicing with Ice, but water has been a total fiasco. He spurts it out the moment it settles in his mouth. He came to a very low point the other day, and felt that he was an utter failure because he couldn't swallow a sip of water. The threads here has been helpful and encouraging, and I came across the advice of Shaker Exercise and Mendelsohn Maneuver. He's been practıcıng the Mendelsohn, and feels like its giving him more confidence and 'control' over his epiglottis. He doesn't feel much pain when he swallows, its just that he has a fear that it will go down the windpipe leading to silent aspiration and so on.

My worry is that time is ticking, and his treatment is coming around the corner. He has lost a lot of weight. Seeing how radiation could impede on his swallowing ability even further, I'm looking for any advice or anyone who had gone through similar experience. How should he over come the fear? How long does it usually take post-surgery to be able to swallow water?

thank you so so much for all your help and info, keep fighting and I wish you all the best of health!
Posted By: gmcraft Re: Swallowing Difficulty - 09-05-2021 05:05 PM
Hi Modanisa, you did not mention what is causing your husband’s difficulty in swallowing. Has he had a barium swallowing test at the hospital? I think that should be the first step in looking for help for him. The test is administered by an SLP who will go over the images with you and give him exercises and suggestions for swallowing. Do speak to his doctor about scheduling a test. In the meantime, he may have more success with slightly thicker liquids like cream soup instead of water.
Posted By: Modanisa Re: Swallowing Difficulty - 09-06-2021 05:26 AM
Hi gmcraft!

Thank you for your reply. He had the test yesterday. The doctor is worried about aspiration so he is off the water for now. He will be discharged today with a nasogastric tube. I do hope a thicker liquid like cream soup you mentioned will do the trick.

Before his surgery my husband had had many months of difficulty swallowing and on several occasions had made him almost choke. Now post-surgery every time he tries to swallow the water or the melted ice, he gets panicked and just coughs it out. But he has no problem, aside from the feel of swollen discomfort, to swallow his own saliva. However, since he started the Mendelsohn Maneuver and he does this exercise before placing an ice in his mouth, he's able to keep it down a lot better.
Posted By: Nels Re: Swallowing Difficulty - 09-15-2021 07:45 PM
I was on a nasal feeding tube as well. It takes awhile to get the swallowing process down. Good advice above to have them evaluate the swallowing process and get more exercises to do. The fact that he can swallow his own saliva is a good sign. That is how I started as well. Then, tiny amounts of water over the feeding tube.

I am about 15 months post surgery and can swallow fairly normally now. But, it did take months and i had to judge my progress in weeks/months rather than days. Hope this helps. Keep us up to date and hoping for a full recovery for you guys.

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