Monday, February 05, 2018

Swallowing Update

This is a quick update on Michael's swallowing therapy and barium test. Thanks for all who prayed.  Michael has been putting in 1 - 2 hours a day FAITHFULLY on swallowing exercises, in addition to the VitalStim therapy 3 hours a week.   The daily at home exercises are for life. We had hoped to ease up our schedule a bit by no long having to attend the VitalStim therapy. It takes up 3 mornings a week by the time we drive over and back - and run any errands. 

The therapy also hurts.  We felt confident going in to this. Michael feels like there has been improvement, we just needed the barium test to provide that documentation. We saw three possible options.

Option 1 - no improvement at all, this is the best it will ever be and the VA will not authorize any further therapy. This would be "the worst."

Option 2 - there has been some improvement, VA authorizes another 15 sessions.

Option 3 - so much improvement there is no more need for VitalStim therapy, continue home exercises.

We hoped for 3. Prayed for any improvement at all.  I've become fairly good at interpreting the barium tests. I did not see any aspiration! Liquid seemed to be going well. As they progressed with stickier food, I was saddened.  I saw things getting stuck in Michael's vallecula . The pill simply didn't budge which had me worried until they said it will eventually dissolve.  As we waited to discuss the results, we were a bit worried there hadn't been enough improvement to warrant more therapy.

Holly confirmed there was no aspiration and the liquid intake is markedly improved. There are still problems with various solids....but since there was so much improvement with the liquids, they can justify more treatment. She offered to give us a some time to discuss our options. Michael told her we didn't need time. This is a chance at improvement - we'll take it.

It's ironic. I was let down after the test. I had prayed and hoped for more improvement....but the responses of friends and family, buoyed us. It IS improvement. If we'd not done the past 15 sessions we wouldn't have this much improvement!

Today, we begin another 15 sessions. Praying to continue to see improvement. Praying also for strength and wisdom to keep up with our schedule now that we "lose" 3 mornings a week for five more weeks.

I think it may be time for me to quit dreaming of our "normal" schedule. This  year simply isn't going to be normal. LOL

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