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Myasthenia Gravis Effects on Speaking and Swallowing

Last updated: August 2023

The symptoms I mentioned in my previous articles were all I experienced that weekend. But after my admission to the hospital, that changed for the worse. You can read about my previous symptoms here:

My throat felt paralyzed

My husband and I were visiting my oldest son and his wife. We were thoroughly enjoying our visit when all of a sudden, I couldn’t swallow.

This symptom came on with a vengeance and no warning. Talk about scared! When I had started to swallow, it was like my throat became paralyzed in an instant.

This or That

Have you experienced difficulty swallowing since being diagnosed with MG?

The hamburger – with dry bread – was sticking in my throat. I couldn't move it up or down. Now, what can I do to keep from choking to death?

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I concentrated on swallowing, took a drink, and finally got the food down. That wasn’t a good thing to do. But when you can’t get it out of your throat, you’ll try anything. I was nearly in a panic. That moment was the most frightening so far.

Anxiety about eating

I quit eating. I could still swallow water if I really concentrated on it. But I could no longer swallow solid food. Once I reported this new symptom, my regular diet changed to a soft and liquid diet. With this new symptom came a new test. I was scheduled the next day for a barium swallow.

They put some dye on a vanilla wafer, then told me to eat it. The same thing happened with the wafer. It got stuck in my throat and I had a great deal of difficulty swallowing it. The technician immediately became quite worried and was about to cancel the test. That experience was the most frightening of all so far.

To this day I have to be careful with my swallowing, especially with dry foods. I always keep a drink nearby when I eat. Since then, whether psychological or medical, if my food is dry, I have difficulty swallowing it. The anxiety floods back into my mind. That said, I am doing much better now.

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No one could understand me

The speaking difficulties came less than a day later. Some of my friends and former coworkers came to visit me. I was talking to them, when all of a sudden, all I could put out was gibberish. My first reaction was to feel embarrased, then more anxiety set in.

Now I can’t talk and no one can understand me! This symptom seemed to be related to the swallowing issues. They both came on within hours of each other. I also felt pressure on my neck and throat, like someone was lightly choking me.

For goodness sake, what’s next? It seemed every day brought new symptoms. I already did not feel well. On top of that, I had to deal with something new and debilitating every day. I’m fiercely independent and these symptoms were causing more stress than ever.

Now I'm the patient

Though I did study this disease in nursing school, we didn’t spend much time on it. We also didn’t cover a lot of symptoms other than muscle weakness, breathing, and myasthenic crisis.

Most of these symptoms were frighteningly new to me. Especially since I’m the patient for the first time with a major illness. I’ve always been the caregiver. Being on the receiving end is a feeling near impossible to describe.

Maybe that’s why nurses and doctors make the worst patients. We’re supposed to help others. They aren’t supposed to help us!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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