Friday, February 27, 2009
Tonight, I hosted a crew of EMT's who responded to my 9-1-1 call so fast that I am able to write this. It didn't look good for awhile.
They were amazing, a special class of magnificent people who exuded such kindness that they must surely all be saints.
At dinner, I choked on a piece of baked potato skin, which went into my windpipe. I couldn't breathe. It was terrifying. When I was unable to dislodge it after more than a minute of wheezing, I dialed 9-1-1 and handed Flip the phone. He couldn't remember our address or my age, so I tried to squeak at the dispatcher while strangling.
Caller ID is wonderful. She had eight people here within a minute, which in itself is quite miraculous.
My chest flamed crimson while my face turned pale. I know this because I tried to cough up the potato skin in the bathroom. It crossed my mind that I might be watching myself die in the mirror.
I decided not to go to the hospital as the offending object finally managed to resume its journey, although the paramedics told me I would be quite uncomfortable all night. So far, that prediction is accurate.
After things calmed down, one of them explained how peristalsis works while visions of Fisher Price toys danced in my head. I now understand how circular smooth muscles contract to propel food through the digestive tract. When something gets stuck, stretch receptors in the esophageal lining are stimulated to try to force it down the esophagus.
My chest turned red because my heart was starved for oxygen, so my body pumped it all where it was needed. We marveled together at how incredibly intelligent the human body is.
He remarked that he would like to live long enough to see more of its abilities harnessed. I said that I was very grateful I would live through this night.
They assured me they would come back if I needed them, even at four o'clock in the morning, because they are always around. Like guardian angels. While I have never entertained more wonderful people in my home, I hope it won't be necessary.
I feel as if my lease on life has been renewed, and I'd better make something of it because we never know how long we'll have, both as individuals and as a culture.
The world is now changing faster than ever before as systems break down and new ones come into being. Truths we have always relied upon disintegrate and can no longer be trusted. The very ground we stand upon seems unable to hold our weight and we find ourselves treading air. Trying to make sense of the unfamiliar offers a terrifying awareness that all things and all beings are, indeed, transitory.
But change also brings hope. Belief systems break down because they are no longer working. Nothing ends without something better replacing it.
We need to turn our fears into action, to ground ourselves in the present even though is seems impossible to gain a purchase, because right now is truly all we have. There will never be a better time to do what we burn to do with our lives.
I was eating that baked potato because I really needed comfort food tonight. I don't know when I'll get over my new fear of all food and start eating again, but just think -- I may have discovered the perfect diet.