The medical term for it is Sialorrhea, a word that leaves one feeling a bit itchy. It means “drooling,” and that is what I’ve started to do. It happens when my head is in a downward position while I’m talking; when I’m licking food off my fingers; or lately, if I don’t swallow before opening my mouth to speak. Saliva now loiters in my mouth – a lot of it. Guess those weakened facial muscles can’t regulate the flow like they used too.
This is not an attractive situation. I wondered what my neighbor thought yesterday – talking to me while I weeded – as he witnessed the long line of drool that went spinning from my mouth, landed on my jacket sleeve, and ended up attaching itself to a rock.
My body is on an ever-roiling course downward, and I wonder about how I’ll play-out physically. Will I repel others as drooling increases? Have I already gone down a notch or two in my neighbor’s eyes? And here’s a topper: will I still be considered “socially acceptable?”
Indeed, drooling is one of our social taboos, right up there alongside picking one’s nose in public.
How do I cultivate a dignified demeanor that can mask my embarrassment when I drool; a calm exterior that will serve as armor against people’s judgement, pity, and discomfort? You see, it’s faulty functioning of the body that is the cause of the drooling. It’s not me; nothing to do with my worth, or being that is at fault. I must seize this clarity of fact, use it to stabilize and hold me fast.
Sometimes I want to shout to the world that Real People reside in these broken, palsied bodies. “We’re alive in here, we’re just like you – maybe we’re wiser than you because we are closer to the truth of ourselves – you whole people who still walk and talk around, filling yourselves with diversions that shield you from the REAL” (the Raw, the Edge, the Holy Unpredictability that life is).
But I won’t shout; I was once there too, on that other side, and if I had seen someone drool, I would probably have judged and turned away.