Photo by Max van den Oetelaar on Unsplash Cough. Splutter. Choke. Spit. Repeat. If you lived at our house or followed us on our morning walks, this is what you would hear almost every day. Sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. And if you stayed with us, you might hear these sounds periodically throughout the day as well. Any regular readers will have noticed that I’ve shared some dementia symptoms that surprised me. This one definitely did—for at least two reasons. First, I couldn’t find a doctor who paid attention when I mentioned it. And second, it appeared a few years ago, right around the time I first began wondering if Tom had some sort of problem. No list of initial dementia symptoms I saw at the time mentioned this. Because Tom has chronic asthma, diagnosed in childhood, when he first started struggling with this choking problem upon awakening, I thought his asthma was getting worse. When we walked our dog in the morning, he would often cough and spit multiple times in only a few minutes. I tried not to say it, but I would think what you may well be thinking right now: Gross! But I was also concerned. I urged him to tell his PCP. I tried to get him to see a pulmonologist (respiratory specialist). When he didn’t comply, I kept reminding him. When we visited the first neurologist, I didn’t mention this coughing/choking/spitting problem because I thought we were looking at Tom’s mind and memory. I had no idea they were connected. Two years later, after our life had changed drastically and I knew I needed to get some medical answers, I mentioned this issue to three different neurologists. Not one seemed concerned. The most one staff member said was, “We’ll deal with that later.” But still and again, I knew something wasn’t right. So many of you have commented about how well I’ve done and how strong I’ve been. Please know that what I’m trying to do is to show you how not well I’ve done and how many things I missed along the way. I hope that, by sharing my mistakes, I’ll help prevent you from making the same ones. I deserve no hero badges. And God gets all the credit for the ways I’ve learned and grown. Again, every dementia is different, and every patient is different. I don’t know why this issue, which I now know is called dysphagia, showed up so long before Tom’s diagnosis. But earlier this year, when we had our first visit with his PCP here in South Carolina, I brought up the coughing/choking/spitting one more time because it seemed worse. The doctor looked at me....Read More
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I've asked God to use my writing and speaking to count for eternity. I'm passionate about relationships and creativity.
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