prune picker

This is the blog of a prune picker. (Native born Californian) Retired oilfield. I am an old man. (91) I blog a lot about my body and getting old. As I approach death life gets more interesting. More interesting is not good. I still drive. I attend sports, music, and civic events. I am writing my memoirs. I attend swim class three times a week. Some of my blogs might be interesting. A lot of my blogs are silly and trivial. None are very long.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Swallow interview and the vagus nerve.

I had a discussion about my swallowing problem with the VA in Shreveport yesterday. We reviewed the results from my swallow test of last week which indicated disruptive spasms in my esophagus. It was thought that another dilation of my esophagus might help. I had dilations in 2011 and 2012 that did not seem to help. An esophageal manometry test might tell us something. In this test an  instrument is run through your nose to directly measure muscle action in the esophagus. I was cool to both suggestions. We decided to observe my swallowing for four months. I have their phone number if we think we should do something sooner.

I asked "why would swallowing difficulty cause me to pass out?"

It seemed obvious to the VA. It was pointed out to me that the vagus nerve is one of the longest and biggest nerves in the body and runs from the brain down the back of the esophagus to organs in the belly. The vagus nerve is responsible for breathing, swallowing, keeping the larynx open for breathing, slowing heart beat, and monitoring and initiating digestive processes, among other things. It is right on the esophagus so it is easy to see how a swallowing spasm might cause you to pass out.


The root of the word vagus is the word for wanderer. The vagus nerve wanders all over. Hence the name vagus. There is a left and a right vagus nerve. Anyhow I hope that my swallowing does not ever again cause the vagus nerve to black me out!





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