Friday, January 25, 2013

The Most Disgusting Thing About Me

I have this thing, a narrow throat. It causes me all sorts of grief. I have to be careful when chewing food that I masticate it as much as possible. I have to split most pills before I can swallow them. I couldn't find a single prenatal pill that I didn't have to split into at least four segments. Once, when I was 16, I had a piece of meat stuck in my throat for 18 hours. It was awful.

I'm more likely to get something stuck in my throat if I haven't eaten much. Which is why one of the worst times was when I had been on an all-day river rafting trip with almost nothing to eat. My first bite of food got stuck. It was there for 12 more hours. The most common advice I get when something gets stuck is "Eat something else to push it down! Like a piece of bread!" This does not work. I can't even swallow my saliva, it comes back up and I have to spit it out. Anything else I try to eat or drink comes back up as well; IT'S DISGUSTING.

About ten years ago I swallowed a small (SMALL!) round vitamin and it made a home in my throat for 20 hours. I had to carry around a cup into which I had to deposit my spit. AWFUL. I eventually went to the ER, where it loosened right before they scoped me.

And it happened this week, right before an important business dinner. I was supposed to be in Salt Lake by 6:30 to have dinner with an out of town associate and some of my team. We were going to Frida Bistro, where I have always wanted to dine and have never had the chance. I didn't eat much beyond an apple for breakfast and a Kind bar at lunch, knowing I would have a great dinner. Right before I left I took two small Advil tablets, because, you know, I had surgery. The first tablet turned slightly as I swallowed and it stuck. No moving. No swallowing. Like it was installed in there with an L bracket.

I swallowed hot water, I tried bread, I tried to force my muscles to move it down, and nothing. I couldn't miss the dinner, all I could do was hope it would wedge free on the drive. I stopped at a store and got an apple and a Diet Coke. Do you know what it's like driving on the freeway with the equivalent of a Mentos and Coke shooting from your throat back into the cup on the dash? IT'S GROSS. I was praying, swearing, hoping, texting my friends, but nothing. I arrived at the dinner not knowing what to do. I wouldn't be able to swallow anything, not even spit. What was I going to do? Excuse myself to the bathroom every two minutes to spit into the toilet? EMBARRASSING.

I sat on the end of the table and demurred the corn chip appetizer. I ordered the duck and saffron rice with root vegetables and stone fruits. When the server came over I asked for a water glass and then, in Spanish, I asked for a dry glass. I poured a little water into the second glass and hid it behind the water glass and the large votive holder.

(This is so gross.)

(So embarrassing.)

When people weren't looking at me, I would raise the second glass and tip it, pretending to drink, and then release my saliva into it.

You guys.

I know.

The entree arrived. I made like an anorexic and moved everything on my plate around and cut up my meat. I pretended like I wasn't terribly hungry. I SPIT INTO A GLASS.

And the meal progressed. It went fine. I think. Unless they noticed me SPITTING IN A GLASS.

Oh my Hell.

I asked the server to box up my meal more quickly than usual (relieved that I could ask surreptitiously in Spanish) They ordered dessert. Flan, which is my favorite. I took a tiny bite when it was forced on me, knowing it could only stay in my throat for so long until my body would force it out. But when my co-worker insisted on taking more, I thanked him and shoved a huge spoonful into my take-out box. I was so hungry I could cry. All my food in front of me, and unable to eat even a morsel.

The dinner ended and I took my box of dinner home, the pill just as lodged as it had been hours before. At 2:49am, ten hours later, the pill had finally disintegrated enough to fall the rest of the way. I got out of bed, went downstairs and ate my cold duck and rice, chewing carefully and wincing as I swallowed.

And that is one of the most disgusting things about me.


Tonia Conger said...

So my neighbor seemed to have a similar issue and he got his throat "stretched". I don't know if this is an option but oh my, one stretching session sounds oodles better than alerting an Advil dissolve in my throat. I can't even imagine. And I'm sorry you have to deal with that shiz!

Stepper the Mighty said...

No, no no - this isn't a disgusting thing about you, this is a TRAGIC thing about you! I can't imagine having to sit through a dinner you'd been looking forward to - ON AN EMPTY STOMACH - and have to pretend to not want it! That is sad, sad, sad!

And swallowing pills is evil. I gag on them, and my throat is average.

Cardine said...

This happens to my mother really frequently (sometimes it seems like daily). When I was in sixth grade I kept having this problem, but for some reason I haven't had much of a problem since then. I wish I knew how to help you, but I totally know the feeling (miserable) and would like to send a virtual hug your way.

brinestone said...

I agree with Stepper. I can't imagine how FRUSTRATING it would be. Sorry it put such a damper on your nice dinner.

Miggy said...

I don't think it's disgusting either, but I think it sounds really, really frustrating. I can't even imagine... I didn't know such a condition existed. But really, I should know better... with my spotlights and all, I am learning when it comes to the human body, any variance from the norm--big or small--is possible. Anyway, SORRY! I was going to suggest surgery, but throat stretching? Worth looking into, yes?

Vanessa said...

I am sad for that Frida Bistro meal. It deserved to be enjoyed and eaten up by you!

Bethany said...

Terribly annoying and inconvenient, yes. But the most disgusting? That's not so bad.

This is the point at which I feel like I should try to one-up you... But I'm much too prudish. One day, after many years of blogging, I may get to the point where I can just let it all hang out...

Just rest assured, that's not so gross.

Emily Foley said...

Hey, me too. It's awful. It's the worst on Fast Sunday because I forget to chew enough because I'm too hungry. Generally I can throw up (I could rival a bulemic at forcing myself to puke, I don't even need a finger-gag) and get it out and then I'm fine. Not always though. One time I was at my brother-in-law's wedding and there was a program. The microphone and spotlight were right next to my table and my steak got stuck. Involuntarily I started to gag and threw up into my hands. I was trying to run out with throw up dripping down my dress and out of my was awful. My husband actually gets his esophagus stretched every few years and takes a steroid to lessen the inflamation in his throat. His gastroenterologist said it's becoming really common because of additives in foods that people are allergic too. Yuck.

kami @ said...

Oh no! This makes me so sad for you. Eating is seriously one of the best things in life. I hope you can find a solution.

KT said...

My husband has the exact same thing. He finally went to the doctor and had his esophagus stretched where he was informed by the doctor it was one of the worst he'd ever seen. He had to do it twice just to get all the way down, since it was so constricted. He said it is usually caused by a food allergy in the esophagus. It is called Eosinophilic esophagitis (EE) (Google is your friend). You should get it checked out. My hubby found out he is allergic to eggs and he now avoids them, stays on some meds, and he is doing worlds better.

EmmaLee said...

My brothers and dad have something that sounds similar. It is called a hiatel hernia? (Totally wrote that the way it sounded). They have to gag themselves and throw up when it happens to get the food out. For them it is a genetic thing. When they try to swallow water they said it felt like they were drowning. When one of my brothers feels it coming on he tries to drink water to try to keep his throat open. It is like their throat is paralyzed in that one area. It mostly happens for them when they are eating meat and don't chew it as much. I told them they should just become vegetarians, but they didn't feel like that was a real option :).

Erica said...

Not disgusting, but painful and frustrating. I know someone whose daughter had a hole burned in her esophagus from a lodged pill, so beware of damage from certain types of medicine. So sorry you have this problem invade your life at random times.

Carrot Jello said...

If that is the most disgusting thing about you, I'd say you're just fine.

Marianne & Clayton said...

What cosmic irony! You, the foodiest of foodies!

Cheryl said...

I have a similar issue; however, in my case, it's because I have a lap band. Sometimes I fail to chew my food thoroughly or simply eat something that I should know better than to eat (like pizza; happens every time). In the best scenario -- which would also include a nearby, and unoccupied, restroom -- the food simply comes back up. The worst is what you experience; hours and hours of "sliming". What's kind of funny is that even with the lap band, I'm still pretty fat. Granted, not as fat as I would be without it, but still not exactly a skinny minnie.