About this Blog

Yes, this a blog to share helpful experiences and ideas with "old people." I reject the term "senior citizen" because I don't like those made-up terms whose only purpose is to disguise reality. A crippled person is no less crippled for being called "disabled", and a mentally retarded person is no brighter for being called "special". Even worse is "senior." I was a senior in high school and college, and I refuse to accept the condescending term "senior" at the age of 77. I have no special qualifications to advise elderly people (I like the time-honored terms "elderly" and "elders"), but I hope that by presenting some things I've learned, and receiving comments from readers, this blog will improve some lives. If you are under 65 years old, I suggest that you avoid this blog. You'll have time enough later to think about old age.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


For many years I had a problem which occurred during some meals.  I have virtually cured it with a discovery of my own.
In this condition, a conflict occurs between swallowing food down the tube of the esophagus and a counter-attack from the opposite direction.  The chewed food which is intended to go down is blocked by something that feels like a large bubble of air, making it impossible to swallow.  The esophagus becomes a one-lane street in which nothing can move in either direction.
That is not only very distressing, bringing the process of eating to an instant halt, but also seemingly insoluble when one is in the throes of it.  All too often the stalemate was broken only by going into a bathroom and vomiting.
Unfortunately, it was Dr. Malpractice whom I first asked about this problem.  All Dr. M. ever thought about was the risk of malpractice lawsuits.  In this case he responded to my question irritably, "Why did you get me on the hook about that?  It could be nothing and it could be something very serious.  Now I'll have to send you to the Mayo Clinic."  He gave me no advice on what my problem was or how to solve it.
I didn't continue to visit Dr. Malpractice for very long (and I didn't go to a Mayo Clinic).  Maybe he avoided malpractice lawsuits by getting rid of all his patients.  I rarely saw doctors during my life before 70, but over the years I asked three others about my problem, with no helpful results.  The last told me to sip a little hot tea, which is a good idea for relaxing the esophagus if one can swallow.
Looking online, I see that the condition is akin to "esophageal spasms", although I'm not sure of the correct name if there is one.
The point to this story is that I eventually discovered a simple cure! 
I had found some relief when I realized that deliberate relaxation could be helpful, as could pointing my chin toward the ceiling in an effort to straighten the esophagus.  I had sensed that it was important to keep the traffic moving south, and that sometimes the blockade might be broken by forcing myself to swallow mouthful after mouthful of water, if that was possible.  Eating slowly at the beginning, rather than eagerly gulping down an egg roll or barbequed rib, was important.  But the ultimate cure turned out to be posture.
I finally realized at the eureka moment that I was crimping my esophagus by slumping my upper body forward over my plate while eating.  The problem was probably aggravated because I was rather portly. 
So, I tried sitting up very erect, close to the table.  It worked!  My straight spine kept the tube from mouth to stomach straight, or at least unkinked.  It was a simple cure which no medical professional had ever suggested.
It continues to be important, in addition to sitting up very straight, to relax, breathe deeply rather than shallowly, and never rush the inflow of food.  A martini in advance helps ensure good results.
If you've never suffered the condition I've described this post will be of little interest, but I'd like for it to convey the suggestion that in many situations body positions -- posture -- may end physical problems which doctors have not been able to cure.
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