Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I have a fear of people choking

Everybody used to make fun of me for way I cut Hank's Tofu Pups and Not Dogs into microscopic pieces when he was a toddler.

I am afraid of choking. I know where this fear comes from. We had family friends with whom we would go skiing each winter and Larry, the dad, told us a vivid story of his daughter, Melanie, choking on a cookie when she was little. He described in great detail his feelings of terror and the dark blue color of her face when she had that cookie lodged in her airway.

Cut to graduate school and classes dedicated to dysphagia, aspiration, (i.e., choking). I won't touch those patients with dysphagia with a 10-foot pole.

Cut to last night. Hank comes stumbling into my brother's kitchen with the look of terror on his face. He can hardly speak and his face was white, eyes wide. He started crying and coughed out the word, "CHOKING!" He had lodged a piece of hard candy in his airway. By the time he got to me he had managed to cough and swallow. At first I was sure it had lodged in his lungs but he assured me he swallowed it.

He cried for about 20 minutes.

He's all over it today but announced to me that he will never eat candy AGAIN.

Me? I'm starting to come down from the adrenaline rush. And tonight when the pizza comes out of the oven, my knife is ready to cut it into 5mm X 5mm pieces.


  1. That poor kid! It had to be terrifying for all of you. It's something he won't soon forget. Years ago we gave my grandmother's Yorkshire Terrier a piece of pizza crust (so it would leave us alone)not realizing the elderly dog did not have any teeth.
    The dog was standing in the middle of the living room floor and literally fell over on it's side. My grandfater was sure she was dead and was patting her side and up came the crust. The dog went on to live a few more years and never had pizza crust again.

  2. Oh, my! I'm glad everybody's OK now. It takes a while to come down from that adrenaline rush, huh? I remember that my youngest sister used to choke a lot and my parents would just hold her hands up over her head until she started breathing. I guess it always worked . . . but not sure how it makes sense in terms of A&P??