It’s been over two years since I nearly died, and I have yet to thank the individual who was responsible for saving my life: Dr. Henry J. Heimlich. Of course, there remains a dispute over whether or not Dr. H. truly deserves credit for development of the abdominal thrust procedure commonly called the Heimlich maneuver. I really don’t care who suggested the idea, I’m just grateful I had enough knowledge to administer the procedure to MYSELF!
One early spring day in ’07 I grabbed a Quizno’s Black and Blue salad to share with my mom for dinner. I hadn’t eaten all day, and so I forked a slice of the roast beef and crammed it into my mouth as I drove east on Main Street in American Fork. It’s never a good idea to eat while driving as it distracts you from watching traffic and from counting your chews. (My mother recommended chewing my food at least 20 times, but meat actually requires half again as many.)
As I pulled to a stop at the red light on the corner of Main and 100 East, I also stopped chewing and attempted to swallow the mouthful of UN-masticated roast beef. In seconds I realized the food wasn’t going DOWN, nor would it come UP! Worse yet, I couldn’t BREATHE! Panic took over as I tried to cough up the glob of meat, but to no avail!
I regained a semblance of calm as sparks of information ignited my mind, rather like Tweets: “Thrust chest against steering wheel.” I flung myself at the large steering wheel of the Dodge Caravan, but that option also failed. I couldn’t position my upper abdomen at the right angle to properly perform an upward thrust!
Time was running out! I didn’t know how many more minutes my brain could function without oxygen, but I couldn’t waste any more precious seconds throwing myself on the steering wheel. Noticing that only one car shared the road with me, I leaped from the van and rushed to the vehicle in the neighboring lane. I grabbed my neck with both hands in the international sign for choking just as the light turned green, and the driver screeched off, leaving behind a patch of rubber and a DYING WOMAN!
I couldn’t believe it! Certainly they must have noticed something was going on with the crazy lady at the wheel of the Dodge Caravan! Plainly, I wasn’t the type to “punk” unsuspecting drivers, and my life span was growing shorter every minute! WHY DIDN’T THEY STOP????
Once again, bits and pieces of Heimlich trivia flashed by, along with scenes of my life. I clenched my right fist and clasped my left hand over the right. Next, I thrust that fist into my upper abdomen as hard as my flabby arms could muster. Once … twice … and, on the third try – VICTORY!!!!
OUT FLEW THE CHUNK OF CHUCK!!!!!
Tears of relief poured down as I panted in gratitude. I looked around the empty streets to see absolutely NO ONE – not a car nor a pedestrian was on hand to witness this MIRACLE. It was surreal. Seriously, I was standing in the middle of the intersection; the light was still green, and not a single Ford, Chevy, or Chrysler was traveling east or west. No store clerks peeked from windows; no mothers watched their children from park benches.
Just me, my mess, and ANGELS!
NOTE: As a public service, I feel it’s only right to post these Heimlich demonstrations found on YouTube. The first indicates how to help someone else, while the second is actually a “worse case scenario” QUIZ that asks the question: “How do you perform the Heimlich on yourself?” You’ll be surprised at the answer as was I! According to that video, I should be DEAD!
Video #1: How to save the life of a friend or STRANGER!
Video #2: How do you save YOUR OWN LIFE?