Monday, 10 October 2016

Slack Jaw

I've been complaining for some time now about loss of coordination while eating and issues with word formation. My daughter, Kate, tells me I am having issues with eating because I stuff too much in my mouth and don't pay attention when I eat. She also says I have always done the "dramatic word stumble" thing, where words come out poorly formed or when I have to start over.

It is very possible to dismiss many of the things I notice about myself as "just getting older" or "you've always been like that", as with the loss of coordination while eating or the word stumbles. It's easier to downplay things where you cannot see them, such as the loss of my core muscles or the weakness in my upper arms.

In addition, most people never see the activities where my recent losses become most obvious. When I'm sitting in my wheelchair, the side panels hold me upright. Even as I type this entry, my arms are resting on the table, supporting and holding my body in place. Since I haven't completely lost my core strength yet, I can still move, still appear to be capable.

The more intimate functions, where the losses are truly obvious, well, most people will never see that except for my care workers. You will never see that I need help wiping my ass because I am not strong enough to reach back there any more. You will never see the increasing difficulty I am having in removing my underwear while sitting on my commode chair. You will never see the additional help I am beginning to need when I want to move from laying down to sitting up on my bed.

Something I saw this morning for the first time, something that will be easy to dismiss if you choose, is a slackening of the skin on my face at my jaw muscles. This is an early indication of atrophy in the muscles which control my jaw, my eating, my speaking, my swallowing. These muscles have been getting weaker; I've known it for some time. Now, although this is a very subtle thing, I can see it internally as well as feel it. This will go on for another year, perhaps two, before I lose all ability to move my jaw. It's all part of the ride.

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