I had a scary experience on Saturday night. I choked on a bite of a chicken wing.
Choking is nothing new in my family. My Dad has Eosinophilic Esophagitis, and I have witnessed choking episodes that he has had. I have seen my Mom do the Heimlich during dinner, I have rushed to meet them at the ER because my dad has turkey stuck in his throat, and seen him get up and leave the dinner table because he can feel an episode coming on.
Through the years, I have tracked my bloodwork on a spreadsheet, and my eosinophils have been elevated for a very very long time. I suspect I could have EE, and like Dad, I eat slow and deliberately, take care of my digestive system by keeping acid down, keep my stress down as much as possible, and anything that reacts poorly with my digestive tract is removed from my diet. There is no cure for this, only being as diligent as you can be. Many people, like Dad, also use a Flovent inhaler to help reduce the likelihood of food getting stuck.
Because I have never deemed chicken wings a high-risk food, I took a bite and started munching. All of a sudden, there was a strange gurgling in my throat when I swallowed, and I could actually feel the choking episode come on. I tried to stay calm and patient, and tried to focus on breathing. The food didn’t go down the wrong pipe, it was just stuck at the top of the right one.
I could not swallow. I could breathe. I tried drinking water, coughing, doing contortion tricks to dislodge food that I read on the internet. Nothing. When I took a sip of water, it came right back up. This went on for 2 hours.
At this point, I was getting really scared. When you have Lyme Disease, you avoid going to the non-Lyme doctor at almost any cost. Very often when you have to give a med list, it leads to questions. When you have a disease that is not recognized to be chronic with the government and many doctors, well, you just don’t get the level of care that you deserve. You are treated as a medical looney.
My guts were churning with fear, and I had to stay on the toilet. Sorry for TMI, but it is an important part of this tale.
As I sat there and deliberated about what to do, and talked to Ivan through the cracked door, we decided that it was necessary to call my Lyme doctor, as she is a personal friend, and this was truly an emergency. I just don’t trust anyone else with my health like I do this woman.
There was no answer. Feeling desperate, I sent her a text, asking which ER to go to as I had food stuck in my throat and I needed advice. There are several hospital systems here in San Diego, and I was hoping that she may be able to recommend a more Lyme-friendly place to go.
I then leaned over to put the phone on the floor in front of me, and before I straightened up again, I took a sip of water to continue to try to wash down this damn bite of chicken wing. I swallowed as I was going up, and like magic, the food slid down like normal, and I was able to swallow as if nothing had ever happened.
Immediately, my phone rang… it was my friend/doctor. I told her what had been going on for the last couple hours, and explained that I was fine now. After a short chat, she said she would keep her phone on in case I needed her during the night. I was so appreciative of her care.
I was emotionally rattled the rest of the evening. I kept thinking of all the “what if? what if? what if?” stuff. I had a little flashback of some scary medical situations I have been in previously where I thought the results would not be optimal. I have had last rites. I have had procedures without anesthesia because I was pregnant. I have been very very close to death in my life.
This was a big huge gigantic reminder of how precious life is, and a reminder of so many things I have worked through to get to the physical and emotional health that I have now.
I then turned all that fear around using coping skills for emotional triggers. I had a renewed sense of appreciation for my body and how well it functions despite all of the challenges it has every day. I felt loved by my family caring for me, and my friend being there, too, despite it being her time with her family. To work through this experience and not have it shatter me was a pretty big deal. I think a few of you know exactly what I am talking about if you suffer from PTSD.
I was humbled… because of a chicken wing. And there is nothing bad about a reminder of how good life is.