Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Little Scary Moment

Last night was a little crazy. Just for a tiny bit, but crazy all the same.

I had a headache when we went to bed. I rarely have headaches and am always surprised by how they feel -- like a c-clamp is squeezing your head. Anyway, I decided there was no reason for me to lie in bed with this rare and interesting malady. I sent out some little thoughts of sadness for those of you who get headaches frequently and went to find some Tylenol.

I was scavenging around in our linen closet with just the light from our walk-in closet on next to me -- trying not to wake Mike. I found what I was after before too long and decided on one little smooth round pill as opposed to the two recommended. So, I tossed the pill in my mouth along with a mouth full of water and then . . . I must have made some very loud initial choking sound because Mike flew out of bed, hitting the bathroom light as he came and was right beside me asking if I was OK.

Unfortunately I was completely unable to respond. The pill was lodged in my throat and I could barely take in the tiniest fraction of air. It was actually quite terrifying. I was standing right at the bathroom mirror, so when I remember it, I have a perfect visual of my bulging wide eyes and strained neck as I made a gaspy high pitched effort -- with all the strength I had -- trying to pull air in through whatever minuscule space I could. Mike was looking at me and asking me, "Can you breathe? Can you breathe?" And I could sense that there was beginning to be the, "What on earth do I do?" panic in his voice.

It's strange how many thoughts I clearly had going through my head -- because there wasn't actually enough time for all of those thoughts to fit there, and my whole energy and focus was on trying to get some precious air in my lungs, but somehow all the thoughts were there as well. They went something like this:

-- I thought, "I'm not going to die probably because I can hear myself making some ounce of sound as I try to breathe and I think they say sound is good."

-- Then I thought, "I thought it was only supposed to be really blocking your ability to breathe if it was in your trachea, and I am quite positive this is in my esophagus. But somehow I am quite certain I am not getting any air." (I don't really know how that worked. Maybe it was putting to much pressure on my trachea and so closing it off as well even though the pill was in my esophagus?).

-- I was really consciously thinking hard about getting some air in my lungs. I kept thinking that I needed to stay calm and just keep sucking as hard as I could to try and fill them up. I kept picturing this tiny sliver of space around the pill and feeling like I must pull air through it. But I was also looking at my strained face in the mirror and feeling the panicky affects of feeling like I was trying to breathe through a pin hole, plus the complete -- what's the word -- pain? of no air.

-- I was also aware of Mike's panic and thinking what he might be considering to help me. All I could think of was the Heimlich Maneuver, but it suddenly seemed like such an impossible and ridiculous thing to me -- that somehow Mike squeezing and forcing my stomach up could actually save me. Plus, I once again thought about the food in your throat verses your windpipe and I was somehow thinking that it was only when it was truly choking you in your windpipe that the old Heimlich Maneuver even worked. Though I don't know that that's actually true.

-- As I stared wide eyed and continued my stifled high pitched sucking of air, I thought I better get Mike to call 911. But then I also had a swell of thoughts wondering what on earth they could do to help me -- how could they make it suddenly be gone, and certainly I couldn't continue this suffocating til they arrived anyway.

Luckily, the real panicky part was probably less than a minute (though it felt much longer). After that either the pill had slid a little further or had dissolved somewhat because I was able to breathe again though I was now gagging and sobbing -- more from maybe . . . I don't know . . . being so terrified and shaken. All I wanted was to sit on Mike's lap and have him hold me and rub my back and tell me it was all OK, but instead he had to just rub my shoulders as I couldn't leave the sink for another 15 minutes. It was still lodged in my throat. I couldn't get it down, and I couldn't get it up -- though every time I tried to drink, the water would stop midway down and then come retching back up -- no pill with it.

Even the next morning my throat still hurt from it. I've mentioned in the past that I have issues with getting food stuck in my throat, but it has never truly hampered my ability to breathe before. I think though, that that was what I needed to motivate me to get serious about seeing a doctor about it.

Anyway, other than the black hole I felt I was sinking into when Daisy was born, there has only been one other time quite so scary and panicky for me -- that was the time I fell off our raft while river rafting and was stuck under in crazy swirling water for long enough that I had thought over and over several times that I really would die if I didn't breathe that second -- and then not breathed again, and again. Both of these instances have really convinced me that I do not want to go by having my ability to breathe cut off.

I know I was fine last night and that I probably wasn't in any serious danger, but it still made me realize how quickly and unexpectedly something can go wrong. All morning I kept praying and thanking Heavenly Father that I was OK and reminding him how very much I want to be able to stick around here to raise my kids.


Before falling asleep I told Mike I'd probably just stick with the headache after all. Really though, I am quite terrified at the thought of swallowing a pill again. And, unfortunately, I seem to have developed quite a fear about one of my kids ever choking.


Tia Juana said...

This was not a good post whatsoever because you know how I am always imagining the death of either Rod or myself and I can get myself to crying and well, this was just all a little too real and I didn't like it one little bit. NO, not ONE little bit.

And, I get migraines quite often and it really horrible. But perhaps when the next time I am in the midst of my tunnel vision and the throbbing and the nauseousness and the tingling limbs, I will remember that it could be worse, I could be choking. And that will bring me joy. In a roundabout lesser of two evils sort of way.

Now, lets get it on with some more chicken stories.

Anonymous said...

Oh Nancy, I am so sorry! I had a similar experience when I was ten. luckily my brother in law James was there, since all my sisters did was scream and panic. I couldn't get any air and was turning blue.. though I specifically remember walking to the dishwasher and getting a glass of water to make the hard candy go down. I didn't suck on hard candy for probably three years after. I'm so glad you are ok though and that Mike was right there!!

BS and the Kids said...

So scary! So as I was typing, I had the thought that I was sorry you had to live through such a terrible experience, but then I couldn't put that because of course we wanted you to LIVE! Anyway, being an old endoscopy nurse. You need to have a scope and a dilation. It sounds like you have some silent relux and over time it has caused a ring of tissue to thicken by your esophageal sphincter making it difficult for you to swallow. The procedure is called an EGD. Who knows, maybe you don't really need it, but if a small little pill has caused problems, you probably do. Then you can maintain by taking something for your reflux.
Glad you are ok!

Lara said...

Nancy, that is scary. I had to do the h maneuver on a camper one year that I worked at a girls camp. Its scary...on both ends. If you had had problems with swallowing before it might be work a trip to the ENT just to make sure that there is no physical reason for having trouble. A pill seems small and maybe you just have a narrow airway. Its worth a mention at least the next time you see a doc.

Perla said...

That is scary!!! Did Mike try the heimlich? It seems like it works unexpectedly. Or not. Anyway, isn't it crazy how things can happen so quick? And yes, its time for you to go see a gastroenterologist to get your esophogeal (sp?) sphincter stretched out as Tony and I have had to do. I have started choking a bit more again and I think I will have to go do it again. Anyway, so glad you're safe. I just had Jason give me a blessing since I leave in the morning. I feel totally fine and happy about going but just lying down by each of my kids to give them lullabies before bed, I couldn't help but think, "what if this was the last time I ever got to do this? Ever got to physically hold them and smell them?" We're really lucky to be able to be moms and raise our kids. I'm glad you're alive and thanks for a prayer that I'll come home safely to my family. I love you.

marzee said...

I'm glad you're okay. I choked when I was a small girl - on a round cinnamon candy. My older sister did the Heimlich and out popped the slimy candy onto the carpet in front of me.

I've never come close to drowning - but avoid the water because I know I'm barely able to swim and can't go more than 2 ft. under water on account of the pain from the pressure on my messed up ears. Drowning would be all sorts of horror for me.

Love you . . . and please invest in chewables. ;)

marzee said...

PS - My sister says you can buy sock monkey do-it-yourself kits. It would probably be a little cheaper. Her 16 year old niece made one . . . I'm sure you could do it. Google it!

Krista said...

If you don't go to the gastroenterologist, keep in mind they have suppositories for just about anything. Aren't you glad I commented? I am glad you're alright - very scary!

Jill said...

Glad you are ok. What a horrible thing to have happen- I am with you on not wanting to die by suffocation. Maybe you and Mike should take a CPR/first aid class together for a couple date nights.

Mugsy said...

Nanc, that is scary, it causes such panic when you loose control like that. I still remember trying to give you the heimlich after you were done choking once. Yes I am always ready for action. I would have had that pill shooting so far across the room it would have killed whomever was in its path.

Kit J said...

Well since I am always the logical must remember that Tony has the problem with his throat and from time to time he has to go get it stretched or some such which I'm sure is what you must do because I AM a doctor and since I am looking at special needs kids medicals all the live long day I have decided I can diagnose and cure anything....Love ya, Dr. Kit
P.S. Seriously that was scary, scary, scary......glad all is well

Kit J said...

P.P.S. I don't know who BS and the girls are but apparently she DOES know your problem and it might not help if you call the doctor and say I need my throat stretched cause my sister said so....

jami said...

ok, that's scary. seriously scary, and although i'm sorry it happened to you, i'm SO glad it did because now you'll go see a doctor. ok. call the dr. right now. :)

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