Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Learn the Heimlich Maneuver ~ Save a Life

I had something very scary happen to me in December … one of the scariest things that ever happened to me!  After hearing that a dear friend of mine just recently had to have someone perform the Heimlich on her, I thought I’d share my story so people can understand the importance of knowing how to do the Heimlich Maneuver and to understand how quickly someone can go from breathing to having their airway blocked and not breathing to actually passing out.

I, for one, have used this life saving maneuver a couple times in the past … once on my niece when she was about 2-3 and choking on a very small piece of a hot dog and another time on my own daughter, when she was 2 and choking on a hard piece of candy that someone at church had given her innocently … yet without my permission.   Both times it worked beautifully and as it should but small children are a little easier than an adult.  There is a way to do the Heimlich Maneuver on yourself if you are alone and start to choke but in my case … I never had the time to think about it before I passed out …  it happened so fast.

We (me, Scott and Alayna) were at Anthony and Kay’s house, Kay was to graduate from college the next morning.  We had been out to a wonderful dinner at 4 Rivers … an awesome bar-b-que place in Orlando … and were sitting around their dining table playing cards … having a good time … we’d just finished the first game …I had just gotten the hang of how the game worked and we were on our second game … I was doing good (with Kay’s help, of course … and she’s a great teacher). 

I took a big swig of my green tea and Kay, who was to my right, said something funny … I started laughing before I could swallow and quickly put my hand over my mouth cause I really didn’t want to spew all over her OR Scott, who was across the table from me.  This went on for several more seconds … me trying very hard not to laugh or spew … my right hand covering my mouth tightly.  Holding my breathe with my mouth full of green tea.  Then finally, my body did it for me with my hand still tightly covering my mouth … I half swallowed … half spewed … my green tea all over the table and immediately started throwing up … everything I’d eaten at dinner.  This is where it all went wrong … I apparently inhaled quickly while this was going on (since I’d been holding my breath) and my airway became blocked … I wasn’t choking … actually I didn’t know why I couldn’t breathe. 

Now you’ve got to understand … I wasn’t able to say a word during this time and so I kept waving my right hand at everyone to let them know I was okay.  I’m still trying to breath … but nothing is coming in … I’m thinking in my head … “oh I’ll be alright in a second” … just need to get a breath so I’m still waving my right hand  … to let them all know I’m fine and concentrating on trying to breathe.  I remember hearing them in the background … talking to each other and me but I was concentrating on finding my breath … Well I wasn’t fine …

Next thing I remember, I’m thinking “OMG something is really wrong” and feeling panicked … I never had time to indicate this to anyone or try to do the Heimlich on myself … or say anything … not a single utterance … because, in a split second, I went from thinking “oh I will be fine just as soon as I can breathe” to thinking “OMG something is really wrong … something is really wrong” …And then …. everything went black … just complete blackness. 

Next thing I recall was seeing all the mess I had made … all over me, the table, the floor … being a little embarrassed … Kay and Alayna making a fuss over me “are you alright?” … “Mom, are you okay?” … Alayna’s voice sounding panicked … both trying to help clean me up … Alayna asking if I was okay, over and over … telling me how I scared them … fussing over me.  It was surreal … those few minutes afterwards … not remembering what happened.  First words I recall saying were “Damn, I pissed all over myself” … yea that lightened up the moment but … I really had!!!  LOL  (Funny even after all that had just happened)

I don’t recall what happened in those seconds before and during the time I blacked out … I just know the last thing I remember was being very frightened and thinking “OMG something is really wrong”) but Scott and Anthony helped piece it together for me later.

Scott said they were all asking if I was okay and I was waving my hand at them as if I was going to be fine … but when I started throwing up they all jumped up to try to help me and Scott says that’s when he saw my head drop to my chest and knew I had stopped breathing and passed out.  He said Anthony must have seen it too because he didn’t even hesitate … he grabbed me up and did the Heimlich …not once but twice.  I don’t remember any of this … don’t remember even being touched much less grabbed around my middle and performed the Heimlich on … not at all.  After it all, it was a very scary feeling … knowing I had gone from waving my hand “I’m fine” to passing out … all within seconds … NEVER had a chance to indicate something was wrong … NEVER had a chance to utter a sound … I thought I was fine and I wasn’t … I was far from it.

I thought when you were choking or stopped breathing you had time to indicate to those around you that you were in fact NOT OKAY … I never had that chance.  If I’d been alone … Lord knows I do not believe I would have recovered …I wouldn’t have been able to do the Heimlich on myself … to save myself.  It happened that fast!  I obviously had an Angel looking over me that night because there was no way I could have saved myself.

Learn the Heimlich … know the signs of when someone stops breathing … especially, like in my case, where the person is never able to indicate they need help.

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