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.