What do you do when you’re in your cubicle on the 12th floor, after everyone else in your office has gone home for the day and you are trying to suck air as if your life depended on it? You don’t even know what just happened, only that you can’t breathe.
As I sit in front of my computer, sucking on a Tootsie Pop, I accidentally inhale some orange flavored spit and my throat closes up. While panicking, I try hard to inhale through a pinprick-sized air hole in my throat, producing a weird sound that resembles radio static.
I figure if I’m choking on something, I could just pass out and then my throat would relax – something I’d heard in a First Aid class if the Heimlich maneuver didn’t work. I can’t do the Heimlich on myself, because, well, there is nothing to maneuver. Just sugary orange saliva.
But what if my throat doesn’t relax after losing consciousness? I’ll die. Still, I swivel my chair around and bend over, so that if I do pass out, I’ll be closer to the floor already and maybe I won’t hurt myself too much on the way down. Meanwhile, the pin hole radio static continues as I try to breathe.
OK, I haven’t passed out yet, but I still can’t get any air. I can’t call 911 because what would I say? Nothing. Because I’m choking. And even if by some fancy schmancy techno thing they figure out where I’m calling from, I’m imagine them stumbling into our office building and asking the guard which desk a certain phone number might be located, the guard looking it up, the guard walking them to the elevator because he has to swipe the key card to allow them access to my floor, and before they reach my desk, I’m on the floor doing a weird yoga looking headstand crumpled against the side of my desk because I overshot the estimated trajectory of my fainting out of my chair. And I’m dead anyway.
So THAT isn’t an option.
What does this choking session clock in at so far, thirty seconds maybe?
How could I be choking on my own spit? As a last ditch effort to avoid dying and/or passing out, I try to cough and a bunch of air goes through, opening up my throat a little. Just enough to choke and cough and get in some air to choke and cough some more.
When my body settles down some, I break out in a shaky, clammy sweat. I don’t feel so good.
Then I hear the voices on my speaker phone and I remember that I’ve been on a conference call for the last three hours from a production problem we are all working on. A couple of colleagues are on the floor below me and others are in offices from the east coast.
I think, Oh my God, I hope they didn’t hear me. I must have sounded like a freak. I check the phone. Whew! It’s muted. They didn’t hear a thing.
That’s right, I was relieved that no one heard me dying, because oh my God, how embarrassing would THAT have been?
Now, I am not prone to drama. Nor am I a hypochondriac. So when I saw my doctor and told him what had happened and that I couldn’t breathe and he said, “Well, if you couldn’t breathe, you would have died”, I felt somewhat belittled.
This heartless bastard, who is lucky if he sees me once every two years, sent me home with an asthma inhaler, because apparently, if you find yourself in a situation where you can’t breathe, just use this inhaler, which by the way, I don’t know if you know this, but inhaler usage (and I’m getting this information directly from the instructions) requires INHALING!
As weeks, then months went by, I assumed it was an isolated incident, although I could never bring another Tootsie Pop to my mouth.
Fast forward a year and a half to this past July. I woke up at 5am with a closed-up throat, unable to breathe. I don’t know about you, but I’m kind of sleepy and disoriented at 5am. Plus, I hadn’t fallen asleep that night until 3am, so I was extra disrupted by this disturbance.
I was in L.A. when this happened, so I was by myself. Again. Wait, that’s not true, I have a roommate, although I’m not sure I was aware of it at that moment. At any rate, I was alone in my room.
I remembered the last incident and told myself to cough. But I hesitated. What if it didn’t work this time? Then I’d be all out of options.
By the way, why can’t our brains work this fast, say, when we are on Jeopardy!, and you need that answer (e.g. What is a sperm whale?) before everyone else? That thing, where time slows down, and you can think of thirty-seven pieces of information or have debates with yourself, and it feels like five minutes have passed, but you know you can’t hold your breath that long, so it must have been less than a minute? Yeah, THAT thing. What is that?
I weighed the pros and the cons, and the pros won. I coughed. Then I went through the choking/coughing thing again until I was better.
Well, I decided that was NOT OK and went on an internet research rampage to find out WTF was going on. It turns out, I’m not the only one this has happened to. It also turns out that this happens to people who have acid-reflux, which I had been ignoring, not realizing it’s a CONDITION that you should DO SOMETHING ABOUT.
Acid reflux is not some rare tropical disease about which DOCTORS would be ignorant. Why couldn’t my doctor (who, if I have anything to say about it, is no longer my doctor) have known this? At minimum, why couldn’t he have taken enough of an interest to find out?
Actually, the Internetz also told me that the throat-closing thing can be exacerbated by asthma, so my doctor who has no soul, knew a LITTLE something, but still…how do you use an inhaler when you can’t breathe, I ask you?
Goat Thing of the Day
Hey, who wants to see a funny little 2 minute goat movie that TravelSavvyMom‘s Jamie Pearson made?
Click here if the embedded movie above doesn’t work.