Can a person stay alive without eating food?
Would they want to?
I've often pondered that question since my dad, Jay Sagers of Rush Valley, Utah, passed away in October 2012.
For more than three months, he couldn't swallow. When he was finally able to eat real food again, it was so gratifying to see the pleasure and nourishment it gave him. Dad's experience has been on my mind as I've missed him during the holidays.
In April 2012, Dad had emergency gall bladder surgery and a bad infection that put him in an intensive care unit for a month. Even after the infection cleared up, his throat muscles didn't work when he tried to swallow food, water, or even tiny bits of his medications. Any attempts resulted in horrible choking. His surgeon discovered that Dad's stomach had moved up into his esophagus, due to a hiatal hernia. Surgery put his stomach back in place, but Dad still couldn't swallow. In medical-ese, his condition was diagnosed as "a severe pharyngeal dysphagia characterized by left vocal fold paresis."