Kati van der Hoeven

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Kati’s stroke focus (6) - Learning to Eat


Eating; after the stroke, I was fed by tubes. That was HORRIBLE to me who enjoyed a delicious meal. I was crying from the thought that I may never again sink my teeth in a juicy, greasy hamburger or let my tongue linger around an exquisite bite of pizza.


My speech therapist discovered a little bit of movement in my jaw and came with this idea that even though I could not swallow, I could still chew and let the food slip down my throat. At first, though I practice chewing with a stupid sounding technique that proved to be effective.

The therapy would start with massaging the jaw muscles with an electric toothbrush. Then they would put some a piece of fruit or soft candy in a cotton cloth with a string on it, which would prevent the fabric to slide down the windpipe.

I would chew on the cloth, the juice of what was in the cloth would slip down my throat, and after that, they would remove the fabric out of my mouth.

We practiced this for about two months and after that, they did an X-ray of my lungs to see if the food was not going my windpipe into my lungs. Luckily, it did not.

Then we started to practice with real food in a semi-normal way.

Everything needs to be cut into small pieces since I cannot develop the full power to chew with all my strength. It needs to be that way because the tongue cannot push the food around in the mouth and down the teeth as everybody else does unconsciously.

The food cannot be too dry or too hard either. In the beginning, they would mix the liquids with tasteless powder so they can become thicker and do not go down the throat so quickly.

To consider that since I could not swallow even drinking became difficult after the stroke. Now I can eat regular food again just cut to pieces. It was different but I felt blessed.

Learning to eat

Original Article

Posted in on November 11 at 09:48 PM

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