Christian passed his swallow study! It was not easy, let me tell you. He has been in the worst mood today.
The OT said to bring foods he might like, foods he might dislike, basically anything he reacts to. So I brought dum dum pops (he doesn't like these, he seems to dislike it in his mouth and pushes away or tries to back away from it), a lemon wedge (he likes citrus but I didn't have an orange), yogurt, water, and a few other things to work with.
Let me take just a second to explain how a swallow study is administered. Food or water is mixed with a substance called barium that allows an x-ray machine to see where the food is going when swallowed. We gave the barium alone as a liquid (close to water, which is what Christian responds to the most and the quickest) and mixed with yogurt. Then he was seated next to an x-ray machine while we watched how his mouth and throat reacted.
Despite all the cool things I brought for him to try, we couldn't use anything but the yogurt. Why? Because Christian wasn't having it. He cried the whole time. I tried to put the barium and yogurt with barium on the tip of his tongue so he could work it back towards his throat and swallow but he wasn't participating. It's usually pretty easy to get him to swallow but he was so mad. It was so stressful - I had our OT, the speech therapist, a doctor, and an x-ray technician probably all thinking, Come on, already! It was so stressful and I could feel myself getting hot. By the way, Lola was in the waiting room crying and we could all hear her. So much fun. Did I mention it was stressful?
Finally, the speech therapist put her hand on my shoulder and very nicely said, "Okay, I'm going to be mean...squirt it [barium] in the back of his throat." She explained since the main reason we went to the swallow study was to see whether he had a swallow reflex, let's just do that. I agreed.
So with the syringe I squirted the barium toward the back and side toward his cheek. He cried...swallowed...then cried some more.
Success! X-ray shows no aspiration, meaning nothing is going into his lungs and he's swallowing just fine!
We did the first try with barium alone which is the consistency of water so if he can swallow that, he can probably handle thicker liquids. Just to make sure, we tried yogurt and he swallowed with that, too.
We got our answer! I wasn't surprised that he could swallow well because I've seen him do it but now I have confirmation and I'll feel more comfortable going forward with tastes and small bites to eat. The tricky thing is trying to get him interested in eating. But I'm not pushing. I'm just content in knowing that when the time is right, it will happen...safely.
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