The Night I Got The Heimlich

The scariest 30 seconds of my life.
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The scariest 30 seconds of my life.
choking.jpg

Last week I went to dinner with two of my best friends and it was shaping up to be one of those special nights where everything clicks. The food was great, we shared a lovely bottle of wine, and we spoke about the true importance of friendship. But about two hours into our meal, one of my biggest fears was realized: I started choking and couldn't breathe. 

Amongst other things, we'd ordered grilled fish to share, something I typically avoid since it's not my favorite dish. But after both of my friends insisted I try it, I took a bite. It wasn't that it was a particularly large piece, but we were all laughing and I essentially breathed it in. The strangest part was that choking wasn't as obvious as I'd thought it would be - it was only after I tried to swallow a few more times that I realized I wasn't able to get any air. 

My friend, Cristina, was seated next to me in the booth and I immediately turned to face her. I motioned to my neck and she asked, "Are you okay? Can you breathe?" I shook my head no. That's when things felt real...and I was petrified. I swiveled around so that she was behind me (though I've now been told you're supposed to both be standing) and she started giving me the Heimlich Maneuver. She thrusted about four times at which point I felt the fish dislodge in my throat and I was able to take in the smallest amount of air. The sound was terrifying since it was so labored, but at least I was able to breathe. Cristina later admitted she thought she was going to crush my sternum she was pushing so hard, though I'd been concerned she wasn't strong enough. Once my breathing normalized, my other friend, Mandy, joined us in the booth and they held me as I began sobbing at the table. I assumed at this point that the entire restaurant would have screeched to a halt, but the only people that seemed to notice were the couple seated next to us. The guy was so sweet and after asking if I was okay, said that he was about to get up and help had Cristina not been able to get it out. I was so moved at a stranger's concern for my well being and nearly gave him a hug when we were leaving.

It was such a scary experience, but one that ended well and reminded me of what truly matters: surrounding yourself with friends that literally and figuratively save your life. 

My text conversation with Cristina (aka 'X-Tina/X') shortly after I got home.

My text conversation with Cristina (aka 'X-Tina/X') shortly after I got home.