by G. Adam Stanislav
Two hours ago I had a brush with death.
Besides being a webmaster, writer, programmer, actor, computer consultant and educator, I actually have a regular job: I work with developmentally disabled people. After all, how better can you ballance spending hours in front of the computer every day than working with people?
I just came home from the night shift, and I feel like the luckiest man in the galaxy: I am breathing! Don’t we all, you may ask. Well, yes, we do, most of the time. That’s because those who don’t usually do not have enough time to tell us about it. Make it write about it. After all, you cannot talk without breathing.
This morning, I fixed breakfast for my clients. Then I joined them eating. I took a bite from my omelette, another one from my toast. Then I took a sip of orange juice. I drink a lot of orange juice. It is supposed to keep you healthy. But when I swallowed, it went down the wrong tube. That often happens to the elderly, I was taught. But I am a healthy forty-eight year old.
Anyway, I was also taught to say “Keep caughing” whenever that happens to others. But suddenly, I couldn’t. For the first time in my life, I was not breathing. I tried, mind you, but it just did not work. As I said, when you cannot breathe, you cannot talk. Nor can you keep caughing.
My clients were looking at me, then one asked something about the wrong tube. I nodded and crossed my hands in front of my throat. That is supposed to be the universal message saying “I am choking, please perform the Heimlich maneuver.”
I realized that without breathing I was about to die. Unless, of course someone performed the Heimlich maneuver.
Guess what would have been my last words. Or rather my last thought. After all, I could not say those words, even though I wanted to. Well, here it is: “Shit, why am I the only one here who can perform the Heimlich maneuver?” Please pardon the first word of that last thought, but that was exactly what I was thinking.
Luckily, one thing they tell you when they teach you the Heimlich maneuver is that you can perform it on yourself. Thank goodness they did. Otherwise, I would not be able to write about it now.
When I learned the Heimlich maneuver, I could not imagine that the first time I’d ever use it would be to save my own life!
I tell you just one thing now: If you do not know the Heimlich maneuver, ask someone to teach it to you right now. You can never know whom you can save with it. It could be you!
28 October 1998