December 10, 2010



Real swallowing. Not the kind (well, sort of) teenage boys think is hilarious and not the Australian tradition of capturing swallows, blending them up with orange juice and cumin and serving them to the national surf team for good luck and nutrition. Regular swallowing.

"I played the hamburger in grade eight band"

Chances are you swallow no problem. It's just one process that's part of eating as a whole along with smelling, chewing, churning and shitting. Apparently at some point, probably when I was doing some late-night scarfing, I started thinking about swallowing, and then I found I couldn't do it right anymore. Any professional joust coach will tell you the minute you start thinking is the minute you end up with a lance in your butt. This swallowing problem has happened before:

October 6th, 2009

The problem is that I don't chew enough because as soon as bite 1 hits my licker, I'm already ready to take bite 2 and so on and so on. The day after I chow down I feel full the whole day and my throat gets swollen. I guess it's because there's a mound of un-chewed, pre-poo food sitting down there and my throat is tired because I stretched it good.

According to medical journal Wikipedia, "Eating and swallowing are complex neuromuscular activities consisting essentially of three phases, an oral, pharyngeal and esophageal phase." Phew. I would've been pretty bummed had it read "Eating and swallowing is so easy that babies can do it right away, no problem." Let's take a look at some of these stages:

1) Moistening

Food is moistened by saliva from the salivary glands (parasympathetic).

No problems there. I may not have the wettest mouth in the kingdom, but I'm no cottonmouth either. If I ever own a bar I might call it The Saliva Gland because bars are fundamentally in place to wet mouths. It wouldn't be a good idea to highlight the fact that they're also there to poison brains. If people didn't care about that I'd call it Computer Games. Either The Saliva Gland, Computer Games or J.J. Micky O'McFlanarourke's.

2) Mastication

Food is mechanically broken down by the action of the teeth controlled by the muscles of mastication acting on the temporomandibular joint. This results in a bolus which is moved from one side of the oral cavity to the other by the tongue. Buccinator helps to contain the food against the occlusal surfaces of the teeth. The bolus is ready for swallowing when it is held together by (largely mucus) saliva , sensed by the lingual nerve of the tongue. Any food that is too dry to form a bolus will not be swallowed.

I do tend to eat way too fast, which is a symptom of my motto, "Just Eat It". Perhaps I don't get enough spit into my food. I don't know though, I did self-prescribe several more chews ever since I noticed I can't swallow right anymore.

3) Trough formation

A trough is then formed at the back of the tongue by the intrinsic muscles. The trough obliterates against the hard palate from front to back, forcing the bolus to the back of the tongue. The intrinsic muscles of the tongue contract to make a trough (a longitudinal concave fold) at the back of the tongue. The tongue is then elevated to the roof of the mouth, genioglossus, styloglossus and hyoglossus such that the tongue slopes downwards posteriorly. The contraction of the genioglossus and styloglossus also contributes to the formation of the central trough.

I think I'm having trouble forming this trough. It's a lot like real life -- if a guy orders you to make a trough and you don't think about it, you'll dig that trough no problem. But if a guy orders you to make a trough and you do take a moment to think about it, realizing that there's pools to dive into and hardware stores out there to discover, you'll decline the order.

I'm basically trying to skip the step because my thinking brain likes shortcuts, while my unconscious is a rule-following bore.

The goal henceforth will be to distract myself while eating, so I can allow the wiener part of my brain to take over from the not as wienery part. Let's brainstorm:

  1. Picture myself naked

  2. Try to recite an entire Simpsons episode in my head (I've tried this before while waiting for things)

  3. Get a tattoo every time I eat and the tattoo will be of whatever I'm eating. This will also force me to eat totally awesome, esthetically pleasing food for the sake of my skin canvas.

  4. Pretend I'm a car. Food is my fuel. Feces is my oil slick to thwart would-be chasers. My nose is my hood ornament and my yelling "DUUUUPHH" is a my horn.


Last night on my way home from work I was walking up through the PATH system, window shopping Andrew's Ties and Fruits & Passion as usual, when I found a pair of Leafs tickets on the ground. I don't usually find treasure so I didn't really know what to do. Do I notify PATH security, sell them to a scalper, go to the game, give them to a homeless teen? Since I lost my wallet a couple months back and someone was nice enough to return it, I decided I was karmically inclined to return the tickets to the box office. They said no one reported them lost or stolen so I could just go to the game, but if the season's ticket holder showed up I'd be asked to leave. They never showed up but the game kind of stunk anyway, still, this was probably one of the luckiest things that's ever happened to me.

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