I’ve had a problem with swallowing, for a good many years. It usually went like this. I’d begin to eat dinner (it was usually dinner) and after the first few mouthfuls I would feel the food getting stuck, like there was an obstruction deep in the tubes.
I tried various things to clear it. Waking back and forth, jumping up and down, running in a circle, lying on the floor. Nothing helped. I discovered that drinking water just made it worse, as it piled up after the obstruction and almost suffocated me.
In one of those situations I couldn’t swallow saliva either, and had to spit it out. You’d be amazed by how much spit your body actually produces. Fucking buckets of it.
It lasted about twenty minutes and then, quite suddenly, the obstruction would simply vanish, as if nothing had happened. And everything was normal again. Except that I didn’t really feel like finishing my dinner.
It drove me mad. My son got used to seeing me stomping around the flat during dinner, thumping on my chest, wheezing for air and swearing like a sailor. For years I thought it was because I ate too fast, so I tried eating slower, but it still occasionally happened. It began to feel like a curse. Perhaps God was punishing me for being right in all those theological arguments. Or just for being so damn good-looking.
Then, a few years ago I discovered, because of hay fever, that I now had food allergies, mainly to carrots, apples and hazelnuts. I decided the swallowing problem was an allergic reaction in my throat and tried avoiding suspect foods. That didn’t help much either. It still happened, even with foods I knew I had no problem with.
Finally, after a lot of research, I realised it might be some kind of acid reflux. The first few mouthfuls, upon reaching an empty stomach, might cause acid to rise and make the tubes swell up. I figured water might help. And, what do you know, it did.
Now if I begin to eat and feel the obstruction happening, I run to the sink and drink a lot water really fast, before the swelling has become too bad. There is a moment of sharp pain, and then nothing. Tubes open, problem solved.
So the solution, after all my worry and effort and discomfort, was simply to drink a nice, cold and totally free glass of water.
How nice it would be if all of life’s problem’s were so easy to solve.