This photo was taken a year ago, right after my dad almost died at the dinner table on family vacation. He wasn’t making any noise but when I looked up and saw him in distress, my immediate thought was “BLOCKED AIRWAY. FUCK!” And I shot up and started to do the Heimlich maneuver on him. He has a big ole belly and was wheelchair bound at the time, so I couldn’t get enough leverage or pressure to get my fists in there to get that fucking steak out.
And that’s when a I heard a woman at the table near us say “My god, he’s choking.” A handsome man from that table ran over and said “I’m a doctor. Can I help you?” I let go of my grip “by all means, please do!” And with a few hard thrusts, he got that steak up.
Most people freeze up in situations like this. Working on the river and in outdoor adventure for years taught me this. Panic usually takes the form of immobilization. Whenever people would fall out of my boat on the river, only maybe 5 percent of them would make any effort to save themselves. “Fucking swim!” I’d yell as I’d steer my boat to chase them down in whitewater. And they sometimes did after I reminded them of what to do. And sometimes they still did nothing.
I am no hero by any means, but I was trained in CPR and first aid I was a wilderness first responder. That is the only reason I believe I didn’t sit there, immobilized, and watch my dad die at the dinner table on a beach with tiki torches all around us and a violinist playing nearby. But when I did act, I wasn’t strong enough to lift my dad up or get him out his wheelchair and do the Heimlich over a chair like I’d been taught to do. So I didn’t actually save my dad’s life at all.
And here’s the whole reason for this post, motivated by learning about the death of Heimlich today, it was the act of TRYING to save my dad’s life that saved his life. Because that doctor next to our table would have kept eating his overpriced salmon as my dad slowly died at our table if I hadn’t. caused a scene with my failure.
So even if you don’t ever take a CPR or first aid class, if you see someone choking and they’re not making any noise, they ARE dying, so get off your ass and at least try. Chances are someone else in that room knows how to do it better than you and you might end up saving a life.
Btw, my dad was the first and only person I’ve ever had to do the Heimlich on.
Also, this is a metaphor for our country right now. Let’s not sit Idly by and watch it choke to death on a steak
Also, thanks to Alzheimer’s, my dad doesn’t remember any of this happening lol. It’s Probably best!