Friday, February 5, 2010

It's Hard to Swallow.

It must be pretty obvious that a woman who only has one foot understands a thing or two about appreciating the little things in life. I see pictures in my amputee association magazines and posters on my prosthetist's wall and I am reminded how lucky I am.

I have two knees. The knee joint is hard to replicate in metal and in fluid gate. There is great stuff out there, new technologies are being introduced every year, but I feel very blessed that I have two real knees.

I have two arms and two hands. The intricate motions that fingers can make are even more difficult to replicate than the whole knee joint issue. Bend down and tie your shoe. Watch all the different ways your fingers have to move. It's so simple yet mind boggling. I'm thankful for my two increasingly wrinkled hands and how they never fail me in the tasks of my every day life.

So generally I walk around pretty thankful for life and parts that work. My leg guy is great and has provided me with a plastic leg and metal foot that keep up with me much better than my old flesh and bone set up ever did. I feel like I'm pretty in tune with gratitude.

Then this week happens. My arms still work, all ten fingers are great. My legs have given me no problems, they've been there when I've called on them for service. But sometime in the mid morning part of Tuesday I started to lose my ability to swallow.

That soreness and tightening in my throat seemed familiar enough. It meant a cold was coming on. I swear by a simple remedy. (ask my kids, I've drilled it into them) Start chewing up some Vitamin C tablets and get extra sleep. That's it. I swear by it. Sometimes it keeps my cold from coming on at all and the rest of the time I am convinced it turns a ten day cold into no more than three or four days of sniffling and sneezing.

So Tuesday I chewed up some Vitamin C and made an effort to get to bed on time. As soon as Leno was over I rolled over and turned out the 'just one more half hour show', I was fighting off a potential cold.

But the cold never came.

Wednesday I woke up feeling like I'd been hit by a truck. No, I take that back. Tuesday night I never really went to sleep. Me, the one in our union who sleeps like a rock for eight hours every night, was awake just about every hour. The aching crept in and no matter how I turned, I hurt.

Wednesday was awful. Sam had an appointment with a lung specialist that would take six months to reschedule. I had to go. I convinced my kind daughter to be our driver because I was in so much pain I could hardly concentrate on our conversation, much less traffic rules.

We made it through the appointment, gleaned valuable info from a great doc about keeping my boys' lungs clear, and I went home to collapse in bed.

Finally, on Thursday, there was time for mom to see a medical professional. I got the kids off to school, called in sick to work, then laid in bed moaning until my one o'clock appointment time. I almost burst into tears as our doctor, who is also a great friend of mine, took one look at me, put her arm around my shoulder, and said, 'You should've come to see me DAYS ago.." Just that little bit of mothering almost put me over the edge.

She did the culture and made the diagnosis. "Your tonsils look TERRIBLE!" Classic case of strep. The kind that makes you feel like you've been hit by a mac truck. The kind that closes off your throat and rewards you with stabbing knives if you dare to even take one sip of water with a tylenol.

For four days I could not swallow. There was nothing wrong with my stomach. I was hungry. Very hungry. There just wasn't a way to get food down there. I smelled the meals that Jeff and the kids made, I just couldn't eat them. I craved a tylenol, just to see if it would take the edge off, but it was hardly worth trying to pass one through the knives. I didn't sleep for three straight nights because every time I'd doze off, I'd have to swallow, which involved clutching my throat, making a horrific face, and then saying "OwOwOwOwOw..." about sixteen times when it was all over.

Today, at 11 am, I started to feel a little bit better. Meaning I could stand up and walk around without moaning. The aches were almost totally gone by mid afternoon. I love the science of antibiotics. My throat is still sore but I have had a meal. It was hot and it was good and I only winced slightly every time I had to swallow. I am confident by tomorrow I will be feeling even more back to normal. Or as Sam said, when he walked through the kitchen and saw me upright, actually making dinner, 'Mom! You're back in business!"

So put swallowing on my list. That list of things you never think to appreciate. Gathering spit in your mouth, or savoring a perfectly seasoned bite of food, and letting it slide down your throat. Without fighting off the urge to scream out in pain.

The simplicity of swallowing. Let's give it the respect it deserves.

Now I'm off to go dig up a cool bowl of creamy strawberry yogurt...

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