Wondering How to Use a Syringe? It Makes a Good Life Hack

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by Brianna Albers |

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It all started with a little pink pill.

I’m allergic to everything under the sun. Thanks to a complex, multistep treatment regimen, I more or less have my allergies under control. But there are days when not even my trusty Mucinex Sinus-Max nasal spray will do the trick. I’m foggy, congested, and itchy all over.

I am, in short, miserable.

My dad jokes that I have a pharmacy in my bathroom. There’s my impressive collection of skin care products, half of which I don’t even use anymore. Then there are my vitamins and supplements, my prescription medications for SMA, and my allergy drawer, boasting everything from decongestants to over-the-counter antihistamines. When my allergies are particularly bad, I take a trip to the corner store — aka the drawer under the sink — and peruse its wares.

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A few weeks ago, I was having one of those aforementioned days — foggy, congested, and itchy all over. I decided to take a Benadryl before bed, hoping it would address the nagging need to scratch my skin off.

I should clarify that, thanks to my gastrostomy tube (G-tube), I rarely swallow pills. Most of my medications are liquid and can be administered via syringe; the few that aren’t are crushed into powder and mixed with water. I can swallow pills as long as they’re small, which the Benadryl was.

You can probably see where this is going.

I didn’t choke. I could breathe and talk just fine. The pill was simply stuck, lodged halfway down my throat. I asked my dad to get me a glass of water, hoping the liquid would help.

I should also clarify that I rarely take liquids by mouth. Years ago, during a hospital stay, a swallow test revealed that my aspirating largely occurred while drinking liquids. Since I can hydrate via G-tube, it made sense to transition away from taking liquids by mouth.

So I watched, amused, as my dad scoured the house for a straw. We recently renovated our kitchen, so nothing was where it should’ve been. He checked cabinets and drawers to no avail. Meanwhile, I sat with a pill in my throat, wondering if I’d go to the grave with a pink esophagus. There’s nothing worse than trying to sleep with something hard and uncomfortable in a nebulous part of your body.

After several minutes, he turned to me, syringe in hand. It was a stopgap measure. There were no straws to be found, and I needed some water. He squirted a couple of milliliters into my mouth, only to laugh.

“Huh,” he said. “That worked pretty well.”

Straws, while doable, aren’t the easiest for me to use. My teeth are so crooked that I have a hard time positioning them correctly. Because I can’t close my lips around the straw, I have to suck — hard — to get even the barest amount of liquid.

The syringe was easy in comparison. I opened my mouth, and that was that. No sucking or positioning needed. I felt like the newest member of our family, the kitten Dottie, who was bottle-fed for her first couple of weeks with us, wide-eyed and waiting impatiently for the next drop.

Once the pill had gone down, my dad said, “You know, we could do that more often.”

I agreed. Just because I hydrate via G-tube doesn’t mean I don’t miss the refreshment of ice water.

“I have a syringe in my backpack,” I said. “Can you imagine? Doing that in a restaurant?”

We laughed. My mom didn’t find it half as funny, which I get — it’s certainly not as graceful or socially acceptable as a straw. But the older I get, the less I care about how I appear to others. People can cringe as much as they want. I’m going to take advantage of this new life hack.

Maybe I’ll even try some alcohol.

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Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.

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