Saturday, August 13, 2011

Death defied x 3. PSA- The Heimlich Maneuver

I've just returned from my vacation in Florida visiting family and staying at my sisters. One morning my husband and I were alone having breakfast and I choked on a piece of  partially burnt toast. I was doing what I normally do- talking and eating at the same time, and was about half way into my toast when I felt a piece get sucked into my trachea.

If you have never had an upper airway obstruction let me tell you that it is a horrible, frightful experience. Unfortunately, this was the third time this has happened to me.  And I am  hoping that it will never happen to me again.

I was pretty calm, I must admit, because this time I wasn't alone like the other two times, and I was pretty confident my husband would be able to dislodge the stinking piece of toast and I wouldn't have to do it myself.

I started coughing immediately. Nothing moved. I coughed harder, and tried to breathe in but no air was going in.  By this time my husband had put aside his paper and asked if I was ok.  I don't remember if I clutched my throat with two hands- which is the universal signal for choking- but I think I started waving my hands and shaking my head  which meant, NO I AM NOT OK!!!!

My husband stood up and I pulled him behind me and grabbed his hands and showed him how to make fists and placed them under my sternum (breast bone for all you non-medical people) and pulled them quickly into my abdomen. He figured out what to do pretty quick, and after several thrusts I finally coughed that lethal piece of bread out into my sisters kitchen sink.  While he was performing the thrusts and nothing was moving I was looking at the phone thinking to myself that if he called 911, they would never get there in time.

When it was over, I stayed hunched over the sink for a few minutes sucking in air. And I continued to cough. It took a few minutes to recover. My husband said he was very worried because I turned purple immediately.

My throat was sore for several days. And I coughed quite a bit all the rest of that day.  So the lesson here is don't talk and eat at the same time. Especially toast.

If I had been alone, I probably would have been able to save myself as I have successfully given myself the Heimlich maneuver twice before I am sorry to say.

Once was when I swallowed a pill. I have trouble swallowing pills. I am not one of those people who can toss a handful in their mouth and take a swig of water and down they go.  I have to place them in the back of my throat and give them a little shove to go down. TMI I know. I ended up ramming up against the granite countertop and after a couple of times the pill popped out in the sink. My husband was home at the time, but he was in another room and didn't hear me try and call for help.

The other time I was driving and eating raw baby carrots at the same time. I wasn't talking at the same time though. Again, it went down the wrong way, I started to choke and cough, and when I realized nothing was coming up, I knew what I had to do.  I was pretty calm during all of this. I am a nurse and knew I had to stay focused and get rid of the carrot or it wouldn't be long that I would go unconscious.

I parked the car at the side of the road, went to the back of the car, unbuttoned my coat (it was winter) and felt for the tip of the sternum, the xiphoid process, and positioned myself, and rammed my abdomen against the spoiler as hard as I could. I knew I only had a few minutes and I was thinking that if I got the position wrong, what's a few cracked ribs vs. dying by the side of the road. After about two tries the carrots came flying out.

I kind of just hunched over the back of the car till I caught my breath and then went back to the car and sat there for awhile before driving home.

I was on a fairly busy road, and there were all kinds of cars whizzing by, but no one stopped. Not even when I was sprawled out on the back of the car trying to catch my breath. Nice huh?

If you have never had CPR traning or taking a lifesaving course you need to check out this video on how to perform the Heimlich maneuver. It shows you how to perform it on a choking individual, and on yourself. Pretty important information.

1 comment:

  1. How frightening for you.
    Many years ago I choked on breakfast. My sister was my savior.

    I still eat way too quickly, so thank you for reminding me to slow down.

    BTW beautiful jewelry and isn't Lori A the best?
    Beasd Soup is delicious.


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