Wednesday, August 17, 2016

of all the ways to die

I used to think I was going to die in a car wreck since I had been in so many but then that stopped happening though I am aware, every time I get in the car on the freeway, that that is a possibility. I used to be afraid of drowning, not because I couldn't swim, but because I always thought it would be a terrible way to die but I've since read that it isn't as painful and horrible as I imagined. I would like to die of old age in my bed, peacefully, without being ravaged by some disease but I'm thinking now I will probably just choke to death.

Anyone who has known me for a long time and has shared enough meals with me knows that sometimes my throat goes into a spasm while I am eating when something scratches or touches a sensitive spot which produces coughing, sneezing, frozen vocal chords but no choking. And then there are the times I actually aspirate liquid or food and choke a little because that little flap that covers your airway when you are eating or drinking doesn't always work properly. This is one of the reasons I'm a slow eater.

Once, I was dreaming I was eating candy and my mouth started watering and I aspirated saliva to the point where I could not breathe at all and Marc had to Heimlich me a couple of times. That was kind of scary since I wasn't even eating or drinking anything and was sound asleep. And another time eating, that was worse, when my eyesight started going gray around the edges before I could breathe again.

So last night we had just sat down to dinner, roast with potatoes and carrots and I'm chewing my first bite of roast and all of a sudden I can't breathe, my airway was completely blocked and my first attempts at trying to clear it were unsuccessful. Marc jumped up and Heimliched me a couple of times which dislodged the obstruction just enough that I could start forcing some air in and out.

This was the third time he's had to do that but this was the first time I pissed myself. And by that I don't mean I just wet my pants a little, I mean my bladder totally let go and by the time I could breathe a little easier but still struggling, I was standing in a puddle of urine and my pants were soaked. I knew it was happening in a distant way, just as I knew Autumn, who is visiting for her week, was watching with a look of horror on her face, but my whole focus was on dragging air into my lungs and expelling it as forcefully as I could to remove whatever was blocking my airway. At this point I knew I wasn't going to die and after a few more minutes I could breathe more or less regularly. 'Well', he says, 'that hasn't happened in a long time'. 'It's happened before?!', Autumn exclaimed.

'I'm sorry you had to witness that', I told Autumn as I went to change clothes. The only word I heard of her reply was 'traumatic'.

Yep. For me too.


  1. My husband and daughter suffer from what sounds to be the same thing but on a MUCH less scary level.
    Have you seen a doctor about this? Because there may be a surgery they can do.
    Oh, honey!

  2. Yikes. Ms. Moon echoed my thoughts. That sounds too frequent for comfort. Have you investigated what's making you so prone to choking?

    I'm so glad you had Marc there to help.


  3. DANG girl! that is terrifying!

  4. Oh Ellen, it is hell getting old. I did that at an exclusive London restaurant, with a little lady seated next to our table that was a dead ringer for the Queen Mum. Needless to say, there was a wet spot on the velvet covered chair that I covered with a napkin as I got up to leave. Just be glad you don't have IBS :(

  5. i told a doc I didn't want to die alone and have someone find me a week later. That was why I stayed up on top of my health. His comment was,"Why would you care, you'll be dead."I wasn't sure if it was good or bad advice, but it was funny.

  6. I know how frightening this is! If there is a surgery, I'd be first in line.

  7. THE THIRD TIME! Ellen, jeezus. But hey it all worked out, so yay for that.

    Dr. Heimlich is alive and living in a retirement center where this year he performed his maneuver for the first time in his 98 years, on a lady sitting at his table. Something like that anyway. Google it!

  8. Holy cowgirl! I'll bet you're afraid to eat anything now, but as you say, eat it slow and mindfully. My daughter has something very similar, I think it runs in my family. My mother had some kind of "stretching" thing done to her throat once and it helped.

    Bless that Dr. Heimlich's sweet little heart and your husband's too. But study how to do the Heimlich on yourself, too. It's a very good arrow to have in your quiver.
    So sorry to hear you had to go through that.

  9. My wife often swallows wrong and has coughing fits, but nothing as traumatic as what you describe. Scary!

  10. I am so sorry that you had to go through this. My husband had a similar situation, but thankfully we were in a restaurant and someone came to our rescue. Your grandchildren now might be inspired to take some Red Cross lessons because of this incident. I know that after that experience, I looked up and practiced that maneuver.

  11. Holy shit. That's scary! Would it be productive to see a doctor about swallowing issues? Maybe there's some long-standing abnormality that could be treated? Needing multiple Heimlichs, even over a period of years, seems dramatically unusual to me.

  12. So scary!! And especially because it's a recurring issue. I'd be afraid to eat anything (well, not really - I'm not sure WHAT would stop me from eating).

  13. Whoa. That would put a damper on the enjoyment of eating. Like everyone said before me, get thee to a doctor.


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