We know that swallowing is one of the difficulties to expect in Boris’s decline. In fact, the inability to swallow and choking are sometimes the cause of death. The brain simply forgets how to do it.
Although in many ways Bo seems to stay stable: the same schedule, the same eating habits, the same ability to get around the house, the ability to still have a simple conversation, to go up and down the stairs and get into and out of bed, still, we feel as if we see small declines each day. He doesn’t know whether to eat with his right or left hand or with his fingers. Forgets how to shave and brush his teeth until shown.
Yesterday morning I found him chewing on a bar of soap in the bathroom. Jon said he tried to put his glasses on one of his feet today while he put a sock on the other one. When he said he was tired this afternoon, I suggested he return to the living room where he had been just 5 minutes earlier, and he asked, “Where is it? I don’t understand.” He takes half an hour to eat his meal (not counting the ice cream) and just asked me what the Christmas tree is as he was staring at it here in the family room. When I said what it is, he said, “Is that what it is? I never heard of it before.”
And now, during the past couple of weeks, sadly, we are seeing some swallowing issues. He can still take his pills (had trouble a couple of months ago) and eat his meals, but he seems to forget what to do with his saliva sometimes. He’ll purse his lips and point to them, sometimes coming into the room signaling that he wants to spit out saliva. When I tell him to swallow, even rub his neck the way I rub the cat’s neck to get him to swallow his pills, it doesn’t work. He just doesn’t understand swallowing at that time. So far, he hasn’t spit indiscriminately around the house.
And so we watch him daily, noting the small losses, the ups and downs, knowing that this can only get worse.