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Jan 7, 2007
Western Australia

I am looking for any advice on helping a choking MND person. My hubby (undiagnosed) has "a" motor neuron disorder. Bulbar onset.

Last night, he nearly died. He got some tiny morsel of food caught in his throat, (even after eating really slowly, chewing thoroughly and drinking water after each mouthful)and I really thought he was going to choke to death. So did he. After throwing up and not being able to breathe properly for about 3 minutes it slowly cleared, although he couldn't speak for a few hours at all afterwards.

He said it feels like he has taken air into his lungs, but he can't expel it, and can only gulp in more air.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.
When my father got to the point that he couldn't swallow solid food at all, even well chewed, it came on suddenly as you describe and was frightening. He went to a speech therapist who did a barium swallow test on him and discovered he was aspirating small amounts into his lungs. He went on a diet of completely blended foods, which had to be a specific consistency (kind of like thick soup) and he needed to thicken liquids with a product called 'thick-it' before he could drink them successfully. Eating was arduous and time consuming, but he was able to continue consuming real food. He later got a feeding tube.

If your husband is still uncomfortable with his breathing tonight, maybe he needs to go to the doctor right away to have this checked out. If you need to call 911, do so. They would rather have you call and help you figure out the situation than not call when you need help. If you have a consulting nurse number for your doctor you could call them to help you evaluate the problem.
The first step is to calm down.
You can't cough up anything if you are panicing.
There was a thread about choking a long time ago, and it was very helpful when my dad was experiencing the choking episodes. One person told us to have dad tilt his chin down towards his chest when he swallows, that way the throat can open up. The other thing is to not panic. Easier said than done. If you panic, your throat will tighten up too, so the more calm your hubby can be during a choking episode, the faster and better the food will pass down. Having him drink after he is eating each bite might make him choke more unless he is drinking some thick liquids. For some reason, thin liquids like water caused my dad to choke even more. Now dad has a feeding tube, and that was very helpful for us and him. He is able to keep his weight up and have more energy because he is getting enough calories. When the choking got really bad, dad lost a bunch of weight and had little energy. Talk to your husband now about feeding tubes, and if this is something he would want in the future.
Thank you all for your helpful suggestions.
I have just phoned the doctor to make an appointment as it is now time for Dave to have another swallow test as has been suggested. He already knows he is aspirating into his lungs as he can feel it. He had the test about 18 months ago and it picked up that he had a problem, even before he really knew it himself. Although now it is blatently obvious!
He is going to try eating with his head tilted down tonight to see if it makes any difference and is going to try 100% OJ instead of water as it is thicker to see if it helps.
What gets me is to look at, he looks physically pretty fit and healthy, you wouldn't even know there was an issue unless he tried to open his mouth. We have talked about a feeding tube, and will certainly go down this road if we need to.
Thanks again for the advice.
Raina: Make sure the Oj is without pulp. You can aspirate the pulp in the orange juice. Try fruit necters. They are thicker without pulp. Anne
A diet of nothing by Orange Juice is a path to serious heartburn, in my experience.
Lots of acid.

My dad would drink a form of thickened dark grape juice. I think you really need a talk with a dietician... it sounds like it's time to move past occasional doctor visits and get some thorough advice.
I use Minute Maid Low Acid no pulp and it tastes good and doesn't kill my stomach. AL.
Thanks for all your suggestions, I never thought about pulp in OJ, but you are right, it could easily get stuck.

emjoi, you are totally right. I just phoned the speech pathologist to see when she was available to do the swallow test, told her about Dave's choking and she freaked out and is coming over this afternoon.

Raina: I fully understand what you mean about your husband looking physically pretty fit and healthy, wouldn't even know there was an issue unless he tried to open his mouth. That is exactly how I feel about my mother. She looks great, active and all, however cannot speak at all and struggles at every bite she takes. She is actually in hospital and tomorrow hopefully the feeding tube will be inserted. I hope everything goes well. I need all the prayers I can get. Anne
advice on choking

I also have problems drinking and eating at same time. So
now I eat first and then drink later works alot better for me.

Davis 07

I find that warm liquids are much better than cold, and water is worse than beer.

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