Recently, my nurse aid brought me breakfast, shake included. I stirred it and started the steps of the operation: I filled half a spoon, put it on my tongue, and pushed it down with my tongue muscles. But when I was ready to concentrate on tightening the muscles of my swallowing apparatus, they tightened on their own without my effort! I was both happy and doubtful. Didn’t I need to make a big effort? Maybe just a tiny one?
After breakfast, it was time for speech exercises: breathing, flexing my mouth against the resistance of face flexors, blowing water with a metal straw, saying “a” and “e” for seven seconds or longer, sing a song, and read an excerpt of a book. Every exercise after the first two requires the use of my diaphragm to push the air I inhaled across my open mouth. And after the “a” and “e” exercise, I have to practice swallowing water (a thin liquid) four times. When it came the time to swallow water, I did the first steps (put the water on my tongue and pushing it down with my tongue muscles) veeery slowly. But when I was about to focus on tightening the muscles of my swallowing apparatus, they tightened on their own!
Ever since my success in swallowing liquids, I’ve been waiting for the tightening of the muscles to come, ready to tighten them; and every time, the muscles have tightened by themselves. I’m still doubtful, but despite my doubtfulness, and despite my need to verify the restored ability to swallow, deep down, I feell a quiet happiness, and a sense of achievement goes with me wherever I go.