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  Monday, December 25, 2006

A Close One

Not to worry. We're both still alive. But it almost turned out differently...

We were at Christmas Eve dinner with Connie's family, and one of her sisters started hiccuping. Which made Connie laugh. And choke on her chicken. She says to me, "I can't breathe."

Now, the first thing that comes to my mind is, if you can tell me you can't breathe, then you can breathe. You can't make any sound at all if you're not getting some air in and out. But Connie's obviously not breathing well. I asked if she wanted me to do the Heimlich Maneuver on her, and she did. (We both took a CPR course after Debbie was born.)

So I got into position and gave it a try, expecting a chunk of chicken to go flying out, but it didn't. I noticed that Connie was aimed at her Uncle Don. If she did expel a piece, it would catch him in the head. So I turned Connie to the left a bit and tried again. Still nothing. I'm lifting her off the floor with my pulls, thrusting in and up with my hands, and nothing's coming out and she still can't breathe freely. I also notice she's aimed at Uncle Don again.

I mentioned afterwards that she almost got him, and he said that would have been okay. You know someone loves you when you almost spit chicken at them and they say it'd be okay.

Anyway, Connie's getting scared because she still can't breathe. It's getting dark and fuzzy around the edges, and she's getting dizzy. She told me that later, but I didn't know it at the time. What I did know, because after being together for over 30 years I can read her like a book, is that she's scared, and I know that's bad. Fear is the mindkiller.

I remember once, when I was getting over a cold, I went to Kamikaze, my favorite Japanese restaurant in Marin County, to get some miso soup. I figured it would help clear my sinuses. After taking a few sips, something in the soup bothered my throat, which was raw from coughing, and it started closing up on me. I could barely get air in and out, and I thought, oh great, I'm going to die at Kamikaze. But I drew on my yoga training, slowed my breath and my heart rate, calmed myself, and sucked on an ice cube to soothe my throat. After a few minutes, my throat opened up and I could breathe again. I didn't die. (Surprise!) But I remember what that was like. It's damn scary!

I told Connie that she was going to be okay, that if she could gasp out words and wheeze it meant she was getting air, and that if she calmed down she would feel better. I asked her sister to get some ice water. But Connie still felt that something was in her throat, and so I did the Heimlich a few more times. Nothing came out.

The party had had music, and loud conversation and loud laughter in my sister-in-law's small condo, and I had a bit of a headache. But you know what, all it takes is someone choking to quiet down a party. It had gotten really quiet. Later, Connie's little nephew asked her what it had been like. I told him, "Hold your breath and you'll see."

Anyway, something must have gotten dislodged and swallowed, because she could breathe a little bit easier. She took some sips of water, and slowly she felt better. I took her outside for fresh air, and she recovered. She had been sure she was about to die, and it took awhile for her to work that out of her system.

Today I notice my back is a little sore from hoisting Connie into the air several times. Debbie says to me, (as I've told her many a time), "You should lift with your legs."

"Thanks! I'll remember that next time Connie's choking to death!" I responded, and we all laughed. It's great to be alive!

Blog Tag: Chatter


At 12/26/2006 10:31 AM, Blogger Jake said...

CPR Classes != Heimlich traning, you know ;-)

I've had to perform that manuver on three people, actually. One at a holiday party in college. Saved the life of an advertising guy at our newspaper. I grew up around medical drama, so it didn't phase me at all. Got the thing loose in one go (and the things never go flying out like a projectile like they do on TV).

It shouldn't have probably been done if the person could still talk, as the body will usually work it out in less forceful manners. But a swift thrust in the belly always speeds things up ;-)

Glad to hear it all worked out, and that you now have a story to tell the grand kids.

At 12/27/2006 7:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad Connie is OK. Sounds like a very scary moment. So far I've not been involving in a Heimlich situation, either giving or receiving.

At 12/27/2006 6:21 PM, Blogger Melissa said...

That is scary. I'm glad that Connie is fine now.

Hey, wait a minute. Does this mean that you and Connie were in LA and never came by to say hi?

At 12/27/2006 8:53 PM, Blogger dkgoodman said...

You mean TV misinformed me, Jake? I'm shocked! ;) Grand kids? You'll have to talk to Debbie about that.

Count your blessings, Alan. It's scary doing it as well as getting it. At least you don't break bones, like CPR sometimes does. (So I hear.)

I thought about you, Melissa. I wondered what would happen if I messed up. Would Connie end up on your floor? Things like that always happen to us. Irony loves me. Her sister's house is in Canyon Country, though, so we'd have probably ended up at a hospital farther north.


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