Monday, November 24, 2008

An apple a day can kill you

I bit into an organic Macintosh apple and immediately, a piece of peel got lodged in my throat, causing me to choke, wheeze and turn blue.

"Heimlich maneuver," I gasped to Flip and turned my back.

He put his arms around me and I tried to cough it up. It was clear he didn't know how to do one, so I quickly looked it up online. While choking. Luckily I can type fast. It could save my life someday, assuming I live through this one.

Step 1: The directions said to ask the choking person to stand if he or she is sitting. (Check.)

Step 2: Place yourself slightly behind the standing victim. (Check.)

Step 3: Reassure the victim that you know the Heimlich maneuver and are going to help. (We can skip this one. I know better but my options are limited.)

Step 4: Place your arms around the victim's waist. (No, not like that. You're saving my life -- it's different. Cough, cough.)

Step 5: Make a fist with one hand and place your thumb toward the victim, just above his or her belly button. (Didn't go so well. First I had to roll down my sweat pants to find my belly button, not the C-section indentation that resembles it. I kept trying to force his hand into a fist and he kept opening it.)

Step 6: Grab your fist with your other hand. (I grabbed his other hand and tried to grasp his fist with it. He resisted. In fact, he was beginning to get angry and told me to drink some water. That's his cure for everything. I was afraid it would lodge the apple peel further down my esophagus. Coughed some more, unproductively.)

Step 7: Deliver five upward squeeze-thrusts into the abdomen. (The angle was wrong. Flip is very tall. I am not. I wondered if these directions actually help anyone who really needs them.)

Step 8: Make each squeeze-thrust strong enough to dislodge a foreign body. (Right. We don't even dance well together. See above. I said, "Forget it" and tried to give myself a Heimlich Maneuver. It can't be done.)

At this point, I gave up and began looking for the bright light to go into, which seemed imminent.

There is more.

Step 9: Understand that your thrusts make the diaphragm move air out of the victim's lungs, creating a kind of artificial cough. (I'm still coughing. Nothing is being dislodged, though.)

Step 10: Keep a firm grip on the victim, since he or she can lose consciousness and fall to the ground if the Heimlich maneuver is not effective. (Get away from me, loser. I'm choking here.)

Step 11: Repeat the Heimlich maneuver until the foreign body is expelled. (Heimlich can kiss my ass. I should have used this time to make my Will instead.)

Checking further, there are instructions for doing it to yourself by leaning over a chair and driving your fist towards yourself with an upward thrust. This sounds a lot like Hara-kiri for Dummies. It didn't work either. Impressive bruises, though.

Flip suggested I make an appointment tomorrow to see the doctor. I'll get right on it.


daysgoby said...

Great instructions, and very important stuff, but I thought the Heimlich wasn't really supposed to be used unless the sufferer can't breathe, cough, or speak.

(The reverse pop of the air pushing against the firmly lodges object doesn't work if there is air rushing by it (air enough to cough or speak))

Nevertheless, so glad you're okay! And good on Flip for reading directions as fast as you found them!

daysgoby said...

lodged, not lodges. I don't really think you had a tiny woodland chalet in your throat!

Anonymous said...

I thought the same thing as daysgoby. But choking is a scary thing isn't it? Not being able to breathe - it's why panic attacks are marked by a feeling of being unable to breathe properly.

furiousBall said...

so actually you did the google manuver and then the heimlich

Ian Lidster said...

Actually I truly appreciate the instructions. Or, a revisitation of the instructions. My ex had MS and would periodically choke on her food, so I learned it just in case she got into distress.
Otherwise, I am assuming everything turned out OK for you or you wouldn't have been writing. But, it validates my decision to not eat apples.

Molly said...

So, are you communicating to us from The Bright Light? Glad you're OK enough to write about it!

Tanya Brown said...

Amusing story, but #@$% that sounds miserable.

MsLittlePea said...

I should not be laughing at your choking situation. I should not.

I guess having a tall man around isn't always a good thing? I'll have to remember that if I'm ever in your position. Perhaps I should just stay away from apples....

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I couldn't breathe. It was scary. I was afraid to go to bed but apparently the peel has moved out of my windpipe although it still feels a bit iffy.

And it did seem as if a woodland chalet was stuck in my throat, now that you mention it.


I am familiar with panic attacks. I do not like them.


Don't make me laugh - I'm in a delicate condition.

I wonder how many people have died while trying to find medical information online.


I love apples but I'm going to regard them with suspicion for a while.


Yes. It's very bright in here. Send sunglasses.


I couldn't have said it better myself... #@$%. Did I spell it right?

Sweet Pea,

I should have just stood on the chair instead of trying to Heimlich myself with it after Flip flunked out.

Tall man, short woman -- yeah, there are issues.

Paul said...

OK, good story, but what happened next?

Lex said...

So, wait! The way you left it makes me wonder if this as posted posthumously

Maria said...

Well, now. Tell Flip that when it is his turn to need the Heimlich, you will just be Ms. Cranky Pants and see how he likes it....:)

The CEO said...

Having had a similar experience recently, I should share an excellent recipe for applesauce with you. I now puree all my meat.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


There's supposed to be a next?


Of course it is. I do all my best work posthumously.


Yeah!!! What she said.


You consider apples meat? Do you like them rare, medium or well-done?

Nick said...

The Heimlich Manoeuvre/ Maneuver always sounds to me like a strategy for German advance in WW2. That would certainly have stopped a few coughs. And a few lives probably.

It's one of those things everyone ought to be taught at school, along with other bits of vital first aid. I certainly don't know how to do it.

the walking man said...

Flip should take his tools and:

1) bend coat hanger

2) use newly bent hanger to retrieve offending bit of apple.

3) congratulate himself for a job well done.

Say It said...

wonderfully helpful that Flip is!! Thank you for posting this very important lesson.

Los Angelista said...

I feel horribly guilty for laughing while reading this, especially when you were looking for the bright light. I'll only guess that since you wrote this, you are alright! Whew!

Cool instructions too. The Heimlich is a running joke in my family due to my father's total ineptitude in performing it on my mother one night at dinner when she choked... she ended up being ok, but she now refers to it as the, "Night your dad tried to kill me!"

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Either a German World War II strategy or maybe a work of classical music, probably for piano.


Ewwwww. I'm really glad you don't have a direct line to Flip.

I've used coat hangers for many things, especially plumbing issues.

Say it,

I especially like the part about reassuring the victim that you know how to do it as the person chokes to death and falls down.


I can see why your mom might think that. The same thing crossed my mind as the bright light came closer, but it turned out it was just there scouting for prospects.

Franki said...

Make your Will? Hell, you coulda done a load of laundry.

Glad you survived!

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I think I'll will the laundry chores to Flip.

Eastcoastdweller said...

I wrote a column for the local paper last year around this time, when someone saved a life at our school district Christmas Party with the Heimlich Manuever.

Believe it or not, Heimlich's son contacted me later and asked me to write a correction. He and his famous daddy are very estranged and he claims the Manuever is largely a fraud.


Eastcoastdweller said...

Heart, You might also be a little careful about inviting strangers to smooch Your posterior.

A Girl in my high school angrily told a guy to do that once. He hoped that She was serious. She wasn't. And no, it was not me.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


It seems that Peter Heimlich has devoted his life to exposing his father as a dangerous fraud.

Aren't family values great?

I've always wondered why "kiss my ass" is considered an insult; it seems kissing should be in another category altogether.

Jocelyn said...

Are your boobs really as big as those in the illustration?

If so, I daresay other men would be willing to push Flip out of the way and take their shot.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Boobs, schmoobs. Would you believe I'm prettier than she is?

Not sure how I stack up (!!) against the Asian lovely in the other pic, though.

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

I can't breathe.

Laughing too much...

Hearts, I just love your attitude.
But, I am simultaneously sorry for your plight.

Next time peel the apple.

Glad you survived the escapade.

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I think you could say that I grew increasingly disenchanted with Heimlich and his stupid maneuver the closer I drew to the bright light.

Anonymous said...