Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Mouthing Off

In the beginning I did mouth exercises to counter a drooping smile and slurred speech. Lying in my hospital bed that first week, I practiced my pucker with enthusiastic sucking noises. I filled my cheeks with air and pressed it out in tiny farting bursts. I pursed my lips "Oooohhhh" and stretched my lips "Eeeeeeee." I once practiced this last exercise with such vigor, a nurse checked to see if I was okay.

In rehab my speech therapist fed me crackers to see if I was "pocketing" food between my cheek and gums. I chewed the crackers and opened my mouth for inspection.

"Good," she said holding out another Saltine. "One more time."

"Bwwaack," I said. "Marcelle want a cracker."

I minimized chewing on my left side because my weakened tongue lacked the agility to scoop food out of the corners of my mouth. When chewing I often bit the inside of my lips and cheeks. I haven’t done that in awhile, I think. Then I bite my cheek again.

Swallowing poses hazards. The muscles on the left side of my neck are weak and sometimes food sticks in my throat. I never eat without a glass of water at hand.

Also food doesn't taste as good. For a long time I thought this might be my imagination, but last week the nerves along the left side of my tongue began to reawaken with an electric jolt. Then I realized that half my taste buds have been disconnected from my brain – so no wonder I'm not getting full flavor.

On the upside food doesn't taste as bad either. Guess that's why a few nights ago I was able to eat beets.


  1. You are so funny. Great you are getting some taste back. My Dietician told me about a stroke lady that thought everything tasted and felt like old popcorn in her mouth.

    I am finding my sense of smell with foods is off now. I do smell them but I can't figure out what they are. I like dill pickles for the first time in my life, but I also have tried to feed my family rancid cereal and not even been aware of it.

    Yeah, my left inside cheek is also a mess.. still.. and I am going to need a whole pile of dental work on the left side because of tooth damage because of biting with bad alignment and jaw spasms.

  2. Oh, yes...same issues for me, but they have been getting better....slowly. I had PT specifically for my jaw, which was helpful, but not a "cure all". My left side was weak from the stroke, but my right side was tight from the surgery and the muscles they cut. I did the face exercises like crazy and then they added tongue and jaw exercises. Swallowing was kind of a risky venture...happy I didn't end up with pneumonia or really bad choking. I did lose a ton of weight at first as eating was very difficult. Congratulations on the taste coming back, mine's slowly returning too.

  3. I'm starting to chew with both sides, finally. The inside of my right cheek is all bitten up now.

    Now about those beets...I've heard they're really good for brain development...

  4. I can't handle liquids and solids at the same time so pills have ended up in my lungs when I take them with water. Now I take my pills with yogurt which slows things down enough to give my weak throat muscles time to react. When I eat out I take an individual container of apple sauce.