Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Survival Instincts

I nearly died yesterday.

No joke. I'm serious. Deadly serious. (See what I did there?) Luckily I didn't or else you wouldn't get to read the tale of how I almost died.

Why I almost died has its origins way back a couple of weeks to the week after I ran Melbourne Half Marathon. Oh yeah, I ran Melbourne Half Marathon about a month ago.

It was fun but extremely windy with lots of flies. Came home with another NY qualifier and a 6th in my AG but no sub 1:40. Also came home with a virus that really took hold about a week later. URT infection, fevers and a nasty cough that's taken a while to shake.

Roll on a couple of weeks and I'm still occasionally coughing and it's the coughing that nearly killed me yesterday. The coughing and the lovely salad roll on a toasted bun that I had for lunch. An unfortunate timing of a coughing fit when I had a mouthful of chicken, avocado, cucumber, tomato and a very crusty piece of bread that I hadn't quite chewed enough. The cough took me by surprise. A quick inhalation and that very crusty piece of bread lodged at the back of my throat and I couldn't breathe.

Shit! Shit! Shit! Shit!

I'm not going to apologise for my language because I was terrified. Totally alone - except for the wolf pack (that are untrained in first aid procedures). Not able to speak because I couldn't breathe. I couldn't ring 000 because I couldn't talk and anyway, by the time they arrived I probably would have already carked it. Or at least have a severe brain injury from oxygen deprivation.

I don't think I've ever been more scared - apart from the time that I almost choked on a two cent piece when I was quite young. But then there were people to run to. My Dad picked me up and hung me upside down and whacked my back and the coin dislodged. Yesterday my Dad wasn't there and even if he was I'm pretty sure he wouldn't be able to hang me upside down any more. I'm pretty sure he can't lift me up either. Things have changed since I was 6 or 7.

It's weird the things that go through your head when you're potentially taking your last breaths. There was no 'my life flashed before my eyes' moments. It was all about survival. What can I do to breathe again? The instinct to survive is incredibly strong.

I remembered reading in the Readers Digest about someone doing the Heimlich Manoeuvre to himself so that's what I did. A hard punch to my stomach. Not easy to be effective when you're doing it to yourself. The angle is all wrong. And let's face it - my upper body strength is really crap. I'm an endurance athlete not a strength one.

Then I found a chair to try to do it against (and just a side note here - a swivelling desk chair on wheels on a slippery floor is probably not a good option). Again  not immediately effective but between the punch in the stomach and the chair procedure and the frantic gasping for breath, the very crusty piece of bread dislodged and I could breathe freely again.

It took a good twenty minutes for my heart rate to settle while I contemplated what could have been. Iven walking in after work to find me on the floor of the workroom. An autopsy. Ughh, I'd rather go to my grave without being sliced up unless it's to use my organs for a good cause - and really, who wouldn't want my heart? It's pretty damned strong. My liver's been barely touched by alcohol but I can't guarantee the same about liver flukes or other parasites that like to wander through viscera from my vet days. Then a quiet and dignified memorial service where all attendees were required to wear bright, fun activewear in keeping with the Run Amok ethos.

Then I googled 'what to do when you're choking and alone' and I'd been pretty right with what I'd tried but I found something that may have been even better which I want to share today. Just in case any of you find yourself with a very crusty piece of bread lodged at the back of your throat.

Watch it! Embed it in your brain. Make your family members watch it. One day it might save your life.


  1. I've had that experience on a couple of occasions Char and it scares the bejesus out of me. I've seen that clip before but watched it again... given I live alone I eat almost every meal alone and I do worry about what happens if no one finds me / misses me for a while!

  2. Wow, that is scary. Thanks for sharing the video. Actually I thought you were going to say you went into a handstand and the bread dislodged... I'm so glad you're okay! And chronic coughing is a bitch - I've had a really annoying hack for a month or so and I think a couple of times I've nearly thrown my back out (and never mind the involuntary leakage...)

  3. How terrifying! But thank you for the reminder.

  4. I'm laughing, though I'm sure that's not very kind...but that guy - hahaha!
    So glad you're alive! I'd hate to miss you in NY if I get into the lottery :).

  5. Eek, that sounds terrifying!! So glad it all worked out & you are ok!! D:

  6. I would have missed your blog... so very pleased you're ok

  7. Oh Char that's freaking scary! Funny what will pop into your head in a moment like that. Glad you're still with us mate! As for taking a while to write about Melbourne, heck I still haven't blogged about it. I've fallen off the blog-a-sphere completely!


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