I. Can’t. Swallow. Pills. I’m a grown-@ss 40 year old woman and I can’t swallow pills.
Of all of the psychological damage my Dad pulled on me when I was younger, this is definitely the most pervasive and the most over-all traumatizing. It is something I have never been able to get over and it is something I have to face every single day of my life. I start my day with it. And even if I don’t consciously think about, that is engrained in my physiological being. Even if I have accepted it as my way of life in my brain, it still pervades my psyche in ways that I don’t think I even realized until just recently.
When I was 6, my Dad decided that since the bottles of medication said 6 year olds could start taking medicines that were swallowable, that it was time to start making me try. So he got me one of the cups at some point, like the one in the picture at the top of this post, and had me start trying to swallow pills. Whenever I couldn’t do it after those first few times (at whatever point he deemed it to be ridiculous that I should be able to by his own timetable), he began to yell at me EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. that it didn’t happen. He never stopped to think that the split uvula that I had (which they knew about), could have affected this.
(Sorry for the graphic grossness-don’t worry not my actual mouth, lol)
I never had any trouble eating, but my voice does sound nasal, and it was particularly nasal when I was a child. But my Dad doesn’t think outside of himself for a hot second. All he could see was the inconvenience and the failure of his daughter to achieve something so simplistic and commonplace. Then again, had he have figured out back then that it was due to my split uvula, it would have only given him more fuel to the genetic fire to blame my shortcomings on my genetics, since he was my adoptive father, and boy did he love to point out all of the things he disapproved of in me and pin them on my genetics. So maybe it was for the best that he never figured that one out, because it would have never turned in to a reason for compassion anyway.
My split uvula causes me no troubles with normal eating because I can chew my food up as much as I need and then swallow whenever I am ready to. But it does cause a horrific gag reflex for me. Which is the problem it causes when I try to take pills. And then add in the psychological damage my Dad added in to that, and it was a recipe for disaster. The only way I can take pills now is to take them with a spoonful of applesauce. I can even put multiple, large pills in one tablespoon of applesauce. But it is the function of the spoon to hold my tongue down and force the pills and applesauce which masks the feel of the pills to the back of my throat. I can even take a very small pill if needed in a teaspoon of liquid, it is the spoon that is the key, to hold down my tongue. When they need to swab my tongue if they are doing a strep test at the doctor’s, they HAVE to use a tongue depressor or they absolutely can’t get the swab done because my tongue will snap up in the back every. single. time. Because it makes me feel like I am gagging. When they made the mold for my top retainer with that huge metal tray, just wow. What a horrifying feeling that was.
I’m sure that swallowing pills would have been hard for me no matter what. But I’m sure that with patience I would have figured out a way to get around it. But the psychological damage is so deep now that it causes anxiety if I do try. When I decided to look for this cup shown at the top of this post a couple of months ago, when I was thinking about it, I wasn’t prepared for the reaction it would bring when I found it. It actually caused a mild physical panic attack.
Whenever I go on vacations, I have to either pack applesauce and a spoon or remember to buy it if we are going to a grocery store. I have a spoon packed in the car and in my purse so that I can take my migraine pills in a spoonful of liquid anywhere I am (they are small). It invades my life that much. And it is a constant reminder that I was a failure at something so commonplace that most people on the planet are able to accomplish at some point in their life. Every morning when I am taking my pills in applesauce, my 10 year old daughter (who could do it at 8) is swallowing her pills with water. It is all just a constant reminder of how I can’t beat this, of how I can’t overcome, despite how much I have survived and how much I have worked myself through on my own. It is a daily reminder that even though I have succeeded in life where many people would have ended up in a straightjacket with some of the circumstances I’ve endured, that I still can’t fix this aspect of my life. It is beyond disheartening. No matter how many psychology books and articles I read, no matter how much I educate myself on all of these topics, no matter how many other traumas I have risen above throughout my life, I can’t seem to conquer this one. And it makes me feel so weak, no matter how many ways I spin the information in my head logically.
Now if you’ll please excuse me, it’s time for me to go take my spoonful of meds…