Choked Up

Choked Up

One of my new year’s resolutions for 2018 was to create and maintain more meaningful relationships and connections with people.  My intention was to spend more time interacting with people in person, or, at the very least, in an old-fashioned telephone call.  So, recently, when my long-time friend, Allison, asked if I wanted to catch up over dinner, I didn’t hesitate to accept her invitation.

Allison and I grew up in the same neighborhood, and her mother and my parents still live there actually.  We attended the same all girls Catholic high school, and as parents, we had children who attended the same Catholic grade school.   Our paths diverged after high school, but they crossed again as adults.  Allison and I have shared some of the ups and downs of life, but what we shared at dinner was a first for both of us.

During the middle of an absolutely delicious dinner and scintillating conversation, Allison suddenly fell silent.  I looked across the table at her, and she looked back at me with wide eyes tinged with fear.  Her mouth was open a bit, but she was unable to speak or make any other sound.  Because I have a knack for the obvious, I immediately asked, Allison, are you okay?  I thought that she would clear her throat and reassure me that she really was okay, but she did not.

She responded with a swift shake of her head and stood up from her seat.  I quickly followed her lead by getting up from my own chair and making my way over to her.  In what was truly a blur, I administered the Heimlich Maneuver to her and silently prayed that Allison would be breathing easier soon.  Very soon.  My prayers were answered when the piece of prime rib dislodged from her airway, and she was able to breathe freely once more.

After we both returned to our respective seats, I could not believe what had just happened.  It ended almost as quickly as it began, and it was all just so surreal.  Allison insisted that she was feeling okay, so, we continued our dinner, albeit with Allison cutting up her food into much smaller bites.  We also decided to celebrate with a decadent piece of chess cake with vanilla ice cream, which is now the unofficial dessert of the Heimlich Maneuver.

As we debriefed at dinner and in the days since, some observations are worth noting.

Despite the impromptu dinner and a show that we gave our fellow diners, not one person even batted an eyelash during, or after, the incident.  Seriously, not only did no-one come to our table to offer assistance, no-one seemed to even glance in our general direction.  Have we truly become that detached from others?  Are we so entrenched in staying in our own lane that we turn a blind eye to the world around us?  Maybe, I would have reacted in a similar, unaffected manner, but I hope not.

The last time I took a mandatory CPR class at work was nearly 4 years ago, and part of that class included learning how to perform the Heimlich Maneuver.  At that time, I recall thinking that I would never remember what to do in an emergency and reassured myself that I probably never would have to use these skills.  I wish that I had been right about the latter statement, but I am grateful and relieved that I was wrong about the former.  When I realized that Allison was in distress, I knew that I had to do something, and I didn’t have time to think about it.  I instinctively did what I had been taught to do, even though I was not sure that I was doing it correctly.  Whatever I did, it worked, and that is all that matters.

After we both caught our breath, the waiter who stood by helplessly watching the scene unfold gave me a high-five.  Allison and I had a good laugh about his reaction and the lack of the reaction of everyone else in the restaurant, and we enjoyed the rest of our dinner date.  Most of all, we were thankful that our friendship had survived our dinner, and we left with much to celebrate.  Life can change in an instant indeed.  Bon appetit.

That’s another story . . .



Categories: That's Another Story

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