Thursday, April 26, 2012


I have told the story before about the time in my mid-life where I walked past a mirror and saw my mother’s old rumpled legs hanging down from the bottom of my Bermuda shorts.  I had once thought she really needed to stop wearing shorts of any kind, as her legs, especially her somewhat rumpled knees, were not very becoming displayed that way.  Best she move to ankle length pants, even in the summer, I thought. 
As the years passed, I never gave that another thought until about the time I turned 50 or so, I saw my own legs that way and immediately was mortified and ashamed that I’d even had that thought about my mother’s knees.  I wasn’t old at 50, I said to myself.  I am sure my mother didn’t think of herself that way either. 

But as I age, I keep running into things like that. 
For some reason mother always had a hard time swallowing pills.  Let’s say she wanted to take an aspirin.  She’d first get a tall glass of water at the ready.  Holding the glass with one hand, she’d place the pill as far back on her tongue as she could.  Next she took a huge swallow of water and tipped her head back.  With a quick snap she’d thrust her whole head backwards in a manner that straightened out her throat and at the same time she’d swallow both water and pill with one gulp.  It was not an easy process for her and I felt sorry for her.  She didn’t act like it was a problem and I really thought it was just the way she took pills.  Inside, I laughed.

Me?  I had the ability to put 6 or 7 pills in my mouth and swallow the whole bunch of them with one gulp.  No problemo for me!

Until the last few months, that is.  Not an evening goes by that I don’t think of the time I secretly laughed at my mother and her ordeal. I’m not laughing now.  As some people age they acquire a condition called “dry mouth,” which creates real difficulty in pill taking.  Now I don’t think my mother had dry mouth, but I do, and in taking my evening pills they sometimes stick to my tongue.  Sometimes they simply move themselves onto my soft palate or the sides of my throat.  And then it feels like no amount of water will get them to move on down where they are intended to go.  The worst is when I swallow and they stick to tissue just beyond my throat, where no throat-clearing scoop will dislodge them.  Success requires a bite of food to chew and swallow before the pills go on down the pipe!  And yes, I have found myself doing the head-jerking bit to avoid all this silliness over taking a stupid pill!

Nothing ever gets better with old age, so I’m not hoping for a miracle.  It will be enough if I don’t choke to death trying to take my evening pills. 
I do know that I am not the only person who fights with swallowing pills.  I’ve had a discussion of this same problem with both Mack and with Fran, who both thought they were the only ones who hated taking pills.  Anyway, today’s blog is to alert you to the possibility of this happening to you at some point, or to commiserate with you if it already has.  You know, misery loves company, so join the crowd!

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