Ok so I'm sitting on my bed eating some roasted chicken (even if I do think I make it better than my husband does; he thinks different) and reading. Husband, son and daughter are all down the hall in the kitchen eating chicken. All of a sudden "HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACCCCCCCCCCCCCHHHHHHHHHHCCCCCCCHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHCCCHHHHH" - this SCREAM of a choke starts coming down the hall, and I know it's my daughter, because it's her voice. Then it starts going on, and on, and ONNNN! She was choking sure as hell. Now I know the conventional wisdom and it's *normally* quite correct - as long as the person is making sounds or coughing (uh, which makes a sound) then leave them alone to get it out, right? But no, it was VERY clear with this sound that it was to be immediately followed by silence - either by a complete blockage of the airway or death, or both. Normally I'm very good in any emergency and I almost started running down the hall to Heimlich the kid (now again,normally you wouldn't Heimlich someone unless there was no sound, and there are very good reasons for that; you're trying to use the last bit of air left inside to dislodge whatever's stuck in there, but like I say, in this case if you had heard it you would know; it WAS time to try) - but for some reason instead I screamed "OH MY GOD HELP HER, PLEASE HELP HER!" (I was talking to my husband and son there, not praying for a miracle.) And as I'm screaming that I hear my husband say, "No, get UNDER there!" - now if there's one thing I've taught my kids, it's life-saving techniques and first aid. And remaining calm and pro-active during an emergency. It kept on and on...and then suddenly, it stopped and she was ok. I was JUST about to run down the hall (I can't run, but under the right conditions I could probably lift a car, you know?) and dial 911 but that wasn't the answer; the problem is that in that 4 minutes she would have been dead. And unfortunately our most local ambulance services closed up shop so it would be more minutes; we'd end up with some idiot asshole rookie cop telling us to wait for an ambulance or something. Hell, wait until I tell about the time I had a seizure and the difference between the ambulance help and the police help (hint: the cops always get there first.)
Anyway, I'm still screaming, "IS SHE OK, IS SHE??? WHAT HAPPENED?" and I heard, oh thank God, I heard her saying "It's OK Mommy".
But of course I had to get all the inside poop so I made them all come in and tell me what happened in detail. It was a CHICKEN BONE caught in her airway - almost but not quite fully blocking it. I said "So, did you get it up on your own, or did he get it up for you?" She said "Oh hell no, it wasn't going ANYWHERE; HE got it up! As soon as daddy told him to get UNDER there" (he started a tad too high).
So I started singing that song "How to save a life..." because I was so happy and proud. Why in hell she was chewing a bite with a bone in it I'll never know; I wouldn't. It was JUST like the scene in Amadeus where Salieri's father chokes on a chicken bone (he must have been a good actor because the sound was exactly the same only more drawn out and repeated many times.) So then of course I had to quote Salieri there - when his father was choking on a chicken bone, he said, "And then you know what happened? A MIRACLE!" See, he hated his father ;) But frankly I did not want to go watch this young woman I love die, part of why I hesitated, in fact.
Then I told my son "You actually saved her LIFE; you're a hero!" And no one will ever know; pity, that. But I can rest easy in the knowledge that I DID pass on some great tools and the ability to use them to the people that matter most to me. Sure, I could have done it - I HAVE done it, but to see someone else do it is awe-inspiring; especially when you know you were the one who taught them how.
Ok so I'll include one other anecdote (aren't you lucky! lol) - not the last thanksgiving but the one before that, our ailing cousin - well, my husband's cousin, but she's always treated me as family - was sitting next to me and she didn't have her plate in. And she didn't cut her turkey small enough. And it was slightly underdone,and thus a tad more...rubbery? (No, it wasn't rubbery; it was delicious, but rubbery will do.) And she was sitting right next to me, and suddenly...that sound. That horrible choking sound. And I did what you're supposed to; I asked her if she was choking, and she kept choking. Then I asked her if she was all right, and she shook her head no. Emphatically. See, you normally have some idea if you're gonna cough something up. She was still making sounds, but when someone tells you they're choking and they're NOT OK, you gotta go for it. So I jumped the hell up and grabbed her skinny ass and PUSHED. A second later, she said "Ok ok ok ok - I got it; it's up." I only had to do it once. Ideally, you only have to do it once; like I say, the idea is to use the last bit of air to dislodge the thing. Postscript - as she's standing there (did I forget to mention she stood up, as one naturally would, when she started choking really bad?) I saw across the table my brother-in-law sitting there looking extremely annoyed, rolling his eyes and looking at his plate...wtf? I was like, the girl is CHOKING here, hello?!? (Girl...hehe, she's 50.) Anyway, later on he actually mentioned it disgustedly, about how she was "puking" on her plate. I said "She wasn't puking, she was CHOKING to death". And...in her typical fashion of demeaning me in little ways (she doesn't know she's doing it so I don't fault her so much for it) she said, "You almost had it, too." Heh. That's the thanks I get for dislodging the turkey - you ALMOST had the spot. As though I didn't kick it the hell out personally. Ah well; I don't want credit - watchword for emergencies - remain calm, and employ your techniques. Use them appropriately, and be trained in first aid. No one remained calm or knew the techniques to breathe air into me when I stopped breathing so I pretty much drilled it into them even more after that. In fact, I drilled everyone who came to my house - "Hey, if I ever stop breathing, THIS is how you do it..." Hehe. I like to breathe. When I found out that CPR only works 2% of the time I was dismayed and when I read that those paddles of electricity can NOT *restart* your heart but can only stabilize an ailing heartbeat, I was doubly dismayed. What the hell did I learn all that stuff for? Well...you gotta try :) So...lives saved, many at any rate. Heh, when I swallowed a penny at 1 1/2 or 2 (I remember it, but I was tiny) my babysitter saw me sitting there not breathing and choking, and SHE hung me upside down by my feet and pounded me on the back. By the way, it worked! Out popped the penny! Gravity rocks!