Swallowing is pretty much automatic, until it isn’t, until you have a tumor at the base of your tongue. Then it’s a conscious act. Each time. Even when drinking water.
No more glug glug glug from a glass, swallowing as I go. Now I need to take in a partial mouthful, hold it, ask the tongue and other muscles if they’re ready, then, all together now, three two one go. Then wait to make sure it went down the right way. Then swallow again just to be certain. And again because some mucus has decided to join the party. Then repeat all that with the next bit of liquid or food.
When chewing I need to analyze what’s going on. Has every bit been chewed down to a size that won’t catch in my throat, won’t trigger a gag reflex, won’t suffocate me? Am I certain? Are things still wet enough to slide easily? Okay everyone, three two one go. And so on.
It’s probably a good thing to make all eating—throat cancer or not—a more conscious act. Maybe all material consumption should be more considered, more deliberate.