Choking: Super scary when you are the victim

Today I am writing more of a sharing-scary-experience blog, and some of my findings after a quick stickybeak on the internet.

Last night with my evening meal, I had corn as one of my 2-and-5 (for those outside Australia, a public health promotion encourages each Australian to eat two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables each day as part of a balanced diet). Little did I know that my favourite vegetable was indeed a silent assassin!

As part of the dinner conversation, a particularly funny anecdote meant that I suddenly, and quite involuntarily, burst into laughter. I had virtually completed swallowing a mouthful of corn at the time, and the sudden whooping of air which occurred as part of my laughter meant that corn was sucked into my airway before it could safely traverse my oesophagus and enter my stomach. I could actually feel a corn kernel rattling about in my trachea as I struggled to propel it upwards using what little air I had left in my lungs (not a lot!).

Needless to say I am still here, so the extrication was successful. However my doting husband spent the 10 minutes or so it took me to get my breathing back under control, minus the killer corn, trying to convince me to administer Ventolin as I am an asthmatic. Given the logistics of aerosol reliever medication, and my inability to speak clearly during this time, there was much gesticulating and furrowed brow! My husband had no idea I was actually choking, despite said gesticulations, and this certainly did nothing to relieve my anxiety after the choking incident had been resolved. Thankfully I did not have an asthma attack, which I have found in my case ironically sometimes can be brought upon by a coughing attack.

So today I did a quick search of PubMed and found many articles regarding choking, even one reporting on the experiences of someone choking on a live fish! Hmmm, my killer corn seems quite tame in comparison. I also did a quick search for some general statistics regarding choking, and was alarmed to find that every five days one child in the US dies from choking (read more at http://www.becpr.org/facts_statistics.aspx). Finding statistics regarding adult choking was more difficult, and I wonder just how many have a near-miss such as myself.

From now on we shall try to reduce the hilarity of our dinner conversation!

Oh, and when their breathing returns to normal, hug the poor person who had been choking – they are going to need it because it is a scary experience!

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