Sunday, December 7, 2008

Orificial Business

I have always wanted another orifice.

Actually, I haven’t “always wanted another orifice”; in fact, I never thought about it till now, but you have to start these blogs off somehow.

And now that the subject’s been raised, think of the possibilities. If you could pick the location, design, and function of another orifice for your body, what would you choose and where would you put it? Or, if you could even rearrange the ones you’ve got, would you? Or are you satisfied with the status quo?

Personally, I think some are just too hard to reach, and all of them are poorly laid out, but I hate to criticize the Cosmic Creator. He/She did such nice work in other areas.

Anyway, thanks to ALS, I’m going to get a new mouth, sort of, which will be a very interesting experience, I think. I won’t get to pick where it goes, as that will be up to the doctor who installs it ... but I’m guessing it will go in somewhere north of the belly button and south of the boobs. That’s OK with me, since I don’t wear bikinis. Probably walking around a beach in a bikini with a feeding tube hanging from your mid-section would lead to a lot of tedious explanations.

The interesting part about a feeding tube is that you can still eat by (your original) mouth if you choose to, so there are going to be fascinating improvements on the whole art of eating. It will open up a whole new door for recipes: 1 tablespoon peanut butter by mouth, 1 tablespoon jelly by tube and do the hokey pokey till you mix them all about.

I’ve only begun mapping out future meals, but clearly broccoli will go in the feeding tube, chocolate will go by mouth, to keep my taste buds amused. Pills will go by tube, pizza by mouth. I thought of launching the tube with a shot of Bacardi, followed by Diet Coke by mouth, but, alas, I haven’t had a drink for 29 years (and boy, am I thirsty), and I’m going for the record. Of course, technically, that wouldn’t be drinking, would it? Hmmmmmmmmm. Maybe I'll think some more on this.

The point of a feeding tube is that people with ALS can develop problems swallowing, and thus risk the danger of choking or (even worse) the aspiration of food or fluids into the lungs, which can lead to pneumonia. A feeding tube directly into the stomach bypasses the whole shebang, and also probably lessens wear and tear on your jaws from chewing. It certainly should prevent heartburn. Unfortunately, it can’t prevent aspiration pneumonia, since ALS patients can choke on their own saliva (this takes talent and a lot of saliva), but I’ll worry about that when I come to it.

The other breaking oral news this week is that, even before the feeding tube arrives, liquids are finding new escape routes from my mouth. Now when I take a drink of something, half goes down my chin (no lip seal ... I believe we’ve discussed this already), and now half goes out my nose. (Did you know we all have some kind of little nose sphincter that can stop working? Aren’t you learning a lot from this saga? I sure am. I wonder how many other sphincters we have that no one tells us about till they stop working.)

I expect the next development will be taking a sip of liquid and finding it squirting out my ear.

Also, I discovered this week that when I scratch the top left side of my scalp, my right nostril twitches. Bet you can't do that.