So I’m working on getting my BLS/ACLS certification right now. My school doesn’t offer any certification for either so it’s all online. We do however have two very pointless classes that we have to take in our first and second years that are very loosely based around “what to do in an emergency” with CPR and the Heimlich both included. But, despite the fact that they teach us what to do, how to do it, yell at us, and call us stupid, there’s no certificate at the end. So now I have to essentially do the whole thing over again, makes sense right? Well yeah kind of, because apparently even if they teach it to us, it doesn’t mean we actually know what to do in a real scenario, we need all the practice we can get, and I can prove it!
This brings me to story time. My friend and I had just finished our “first aid” course maybe two months before the end of our first year and to celebrate we decided that we were going to grill up some shish kebabs. It was the first time I’d had steak in a while and it was delicious!
And then I got a really fatty one, and I chewed, and chewed, and chewed some more. And finally I decided it was minced enough and I could swallow. You can obviously see where this is going… I realized my airway was obstructed pretty quick. At first I wasn’t at all worried, I was trying to be logical about all of it, there was no way it could be that stuck. Well it was.
After about 15 seconds I really started to panic and stood up. Still trying to be logical I took a huge drink of soda thinking it would force it down- no deal. There was no where for the soda to go except out, and it spewed from my mouth all down my front. At this point my friend realized something was wrong and she stood to avoid the “waterworks.”
After that failure I started beating on my lower chest hoping to dislodge the thing myself. Obviously that wasn’t going to work so in the middle of doing that I threw myself in front of my friend thinking she would do the Heimlich and save my life, because she must have realized I was choking. I was pretty out of air at this point and still trying to get the thing out of my throat, any longer and I’d be in a Polish morgue over a piece of steak.
So as I position myself in front of my friend ready for her to squeeze the hell out of me, what’s my friend do? She pushes me and jumps out of my way. So much for that first aid course.
Eventually, after what seemed like an eternity but was probably more like five seconds my airway gave one final spasm and a half chewed, saliva filled piece of meat flew across the room and lands smack on my friends plate. I spent the next 5 minutes coughing and gasping for air before turning to my friend to apologize profusely for the soda and pieces of food now decorating her living room.
Of course I also asked why she didn’t save me!?! Apparently, I missed the essential part of choking 101. You know, the universal sign for choking. Yep, in all my logic and even in my panic I forgot to place my hands over my throat to signal I was choking. In addition to that with all the other hustle and bustle my friend thought I was being violently ill, because choking people don’t normally spew coke allover the place. Makes sense. I probably would have done the same.
What’s the point of my story?
#1. If you’re choking don’t put liquids in your mouth.
#2. Don’t forget the international sign for choking, it’s apparently kind of important.
#3. Don’t EVER trust a first year medical student with your life no matter how trivial the procedure might be.
Oh, as for the ending of my woeful tale: By the end of the day I was back to full health with no long lasting damage or what not. Though I didn’t eat anymore shish kebab after that. And we both learned a valuable lesson. I learned to ask for help instead of being stubborn and insisting I can do everything myself. My friend learned that just because a person is spraying their drink all over the room it doesn’t always mean they’re vomiting.
If only certain surgeons at the hospitals that I’m at would do this… they really are a special bunch.
How your immune system really works…