Not a pretty picture, but …….
I spend almost half my waking hours feeding myself. There are still some things I can eat though my mouth – oatmeal, soups, smoothies, some dense chili-like preparations, and this week I discovered waffles drenched in maple syrup. But because my chewing and swallowing is so weakened, it can take a long time to get food from the plate or bowl to my stomach. It’s not unusual to spend 45 minutes eating a simple bowl of oatmeal.
Now the advice I get is to avoid all distractions while eating. But 45 minutes concentrating on my oatmeal is real torture for my overactive mind, so of course I am taking most of my meals at my desk in front of my computer. (Actually eating a waffle while writing this.) So these mental distractions probably drag out the eating time, and even worse, failing to pay attention inevitably leads to coughing, drips, spills and general messiness. So to spare the laundry overload, I have started eating naked.
The other 75% of my nutrition and most of my 64 ounces of water daily I take through my feeding button using a big syringe. This process is quicker, but prone to leaks and drips, so naked is also the best strategy.
This probably also explains why I am reluctant to eat out with friends these days! And why they are reluctant to eat with me!
The good news is that despite these distractions and spillages, I am getting enough calories to maintain my weight. And without the distractions of eating, sitting and talking with friends is possible and enjoyable.
So I am learning to be flexible and accepting of my new capabilities and opportunities. And I am fortunate to be able to learn from the experiences of my new PALS.
But most of all, I am very fortunate and grateful that I have been able to maintain my senses of perspective and humor. Because there is no doubt in my mind that while my new dining practices may be best suited for some tree-based comic strip, it gets the job done, and keeps me nourished to get on with the important work of living and service waiting for my attention and energy.