Can’t Swallow This Dysphagia

In 2002, I had what appeared to be a very severe asthma attack. My primary care physician subsequently ordered a CT neck scan, to follow up on determining the exact etiology of my symptoms. (It would take several more years, dozens of additional tests, and multiple specialists to achieve the accurate differential diagnosis: idiopathic subglottic stenosis).

For my CT scan, I received an intravenous injection of iodine/IVP contrast dye, per the protocol required for this test. I completed the test, with no apparent difficulties. Later that same evening, I noticed that I had developed pronounced neck swelling. I also found it increasingly difficult to swallow.

I phoned my doctor’s office, early the very next morning. They confirmed my suspicions: I had developed a relatively severe allergic reaction to the iodine/IVP contrast dye used during my recent CT scan.

Consequently, I was placed on prednisone, to reduce my inflammation. This experience provided unexpected, but extremely valuable, insight into the difficulties experienced when stroke patients develop dysphagia (difficulty swallowing).

Ironically enough, I had recently been administering neuropsychological test batteries to individuals who had suffered a stroke, in order to determine how their strokes has impacted their cognitive abilities.

Once more, this doctor-turned-patient developed new insights into the difficulties faced by those she happened to be treating.

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