the
post
visit the
blog
skip to
comments
lots more
sdl
get it in
your email

Choking on the Expressway

frozen-water-bottle

I’ve done too many lists this week. I felt like writing a narrative today. We’ll pick up the Truth Box next week.

Anyway…

I nearly died, I think. Or I nearly caused someone else to die.

It happened last week.

I’m pretty sure some force in the universe is working passive aggressively to kill me off. In the past year I’ve now had three near death experiences.

Or maybe some force in the universe is working vigorously to keep me alive since all three of those experiences came largely in part to sheer stupidity.

Have I set a dramatic enough tone for you?

Don’t worry, this story doesn’t end in bright tunnels of light, strange women coming to take me away, or trips to the E.R. as previous stories have. It simply ends with me, sitting in pain in my car, wondering what the hell is wrong with me.

Fifteen minutes earlier I had left to go pick up Noah from his other house. As I approached my car, I thought about running back inside to get a bottle of water. I was really parched. But I was also running behind, so I decided to suffer in my thirst for the next hour. Not that big a deal.

I don’t know why I was so dehydrated, but it got worse by the minute. It was going to be a long hour.

And then I saw it.

The head of a brand new, unopened bottle of water sticking out from underneath my jacket on the seat next to me.

HALLELUIAH!

Angels began singing.

The dismal clouds all went away.

Sun burst through the smog that is Utah right now.

The snow all melted.

Spring came early.

Flowers began sprouting.

And I anxiously reached over and grabbed the bottle of water from underneath my jacket.

My hand almost immediately froze to the bottle. I looked down and tried not to cry. The angels abandoned me in a hurry. The clouds all came back. The sun went away. And the smog went back to its cancer giving ways.

The water was frozen.

I had grabbed the water the night before and for some reason never opened it. And overnight, when the temperature dropped to ten below frozen dimples, that sucker had frozen.

But…

Not all the way.

CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE

121 comments
billieinco
billieinco

when I was 17 I was at dinner with my parents at a Mexican restaurant. our food arrived and just as I took a bite of my taco, my mom set her iced tea down on her fork, which caused it to fall off the table.  I laughed. and inhaled my large bite of taco.

I started choking there at the table.  my sister started smacking me on the back (please, people, this doesn't help, and can cause more damage.  don't do that).  my dad looks at my mom and yells, in his infinite panicked wisdom TAKE HER TO THE BATHROOM (i'll explain in a moment)

I am moments away from passing out, about to do the Heimlich on myself (yes, it is possible, yes I know how) when I cough launched that bite out of my airway. 

I ask my dad why the bathroom?  so he wouldn't see partially chewed food all over my plate..

Chea
Chea

I remember a guy at my work choked on a piece of chicken from a chicken noodle soup. Ran out of the break room, into his bosses office and started wiggling around. After the manager realized what was going on and quit giving him a hard time, he saved his life. It was crazy to watch. Ive never choked. I hope I never do. Not being able to breathe has got to be extremely scary.

justlittlecajunme
justlittlecajunme

I am glad you are okay. IN my senior year, my best friend and I went to a steak house. I got a piece of steak lodged in my throat. My friend noticed something was wrong. I got up and went to the bathroom. I learned when you are choking NEVER leave a public area, Luckily, my friend panicked and yelled someone to help. A man who was passing through, was sitting by the bathroom so he got up and came help me. He did the Heimleich but nothing. I was able to answer questions. Someone called the ambulance and the EMT said it wasn't blocking my airway if I can talk. I was in sheer panic and gagging. When I got to the ER, the ER doctor suctioned me trying to pull the meat out. However, it dislodged and went down. I was afraid to go eat steak after but a few weeks later my mom and dad brought me. Mom said I had to face my fears and I did and conquered it. 

Jeff
Jeff

Battling smoking and rather the battle to quit smoking; I'd slip up and smoke every now and again. Business trips away from the wife were where I did it. That was my big vice. Some guys get hookers on business trips, I'd get a pack of camel crush smokes.

It got to the point where I could no longer smoke. I'd come down with smoking induced asthma and bronchitus. I'd experience moments when my throat would just clamp shut for no reason. More often than not I was about to swallow a mouthful of food when this happened.

The worst was waking up in the middle of the night with a severe asthma attack. My throat was completely shut and I couldn't breathe. I worked myself into such a panic I'd bolt upright and smack into the wall above the headboard, standing on the bed despereately trying to suck down air. I've never know such panic or fear until then.

GoreJess
GoreJess

Jeeeeeez, Dan. This almost gave me a panic attack and I wasn't even there. Yikes.

Crystal Rivers
Crystal Rivers

One of my mom's friends was out to eat with his two sisters. Well you know how women are, especially when they haven't seen each other in a while, they like to talk!! Poor guy was already miserable listening to them yapping. Well finally the food comes and he is so excited to dig into his steak. He takes a bite of steak, which is absolutely delicious. So now that he knows it's good he takes a bigger bite and it get stuck in his throat, just like you described with the ice. Well his sisters are too busy still talking to notices. He is waiving his arms around, grabbing his neck, pounding on the table and they still don't notice him. People in the restaurant are starting to stare because of his pounding but they were seated by the door, most people were seated farther back. After pounding on the table doing everything he can to try and get his sisters to notice he is choking he decides he doesn't want to die inside the restaurant, that would be too embarrassing! So he gets up and goes outside, just knowing he is going to die. A lot of time has already gone by he still hasn't gotten any oxygen to his brain and his heart was starting to stop. Then he hits the ground, his body can't go any longer without air. When he hit the ground he landed so hard the steak came flying out. So he laid there on the ground collecting himself for a while. Went in to collect his coat, his sisters still didn't notice he was gone, then he just left and didn't see his "stupid" sisters for years.

JoanieC
JoanieC

OMG, you apparently have issues with water, hydration, dehydration, too much, too little...I am not sure which. Maybe you should enter 911 in your cell phone - on speed dial.

VioletNarneyHooks
VioletNarneyHooks

Good grief! Only you, Dan. Only you. I do hope that given your predilection for disaster that someone knows how to get onto your blog to let us know in case anything ever happens to you. LOL

LauraMinster
LauraMinster

I almost drowned on a trip to Hawaii with my husband and a couple of friends. We were snorkeling in a cove, which I had never done before, but I'm a decent swimmer, so we weren't worried about it. A wave came in and I got water in my tube, which I then breathed in. I had no CLUE what to do, because my husband hadn't told me it could happen. So I popped straight up in the water, starting to panic, trying to breath through the dang tube, which by now, since it's a curved tube, was actually down in the water. I was sucking in more water and started really freaking out. My husband noticed the freakage, and his lifesaving training from scouts kicked in. Fortunately, when he came to my rescue, I was still able to remember not to push him under.

Obviously, I didn't drown. But that was quite probably the single most terrifying experience of my life. Trooper that I am, a couple days later he took me to a very quiet lagoon and had me practice blowing the water out of the snorkel to clear the tube. :) Once I mastered that skill, back to the cove we went, and we got to swim with a few sea turtles. And there were no more near-drowning incidents.

Jill Pieper
Jill Pieper

My advice, always ALWAYS have a bottled water with you (thawed of course). In life people rarely learn from others mistakes, they have to make a few of their own to learn lessons, silly if you think about it. Well I worked at an MRI facility for 3 years and in that time I was able to learn a few lessons from others mistakes and one lesson deals with choking in a car, much like the story you shared. 

Our patient, who we were seeing post brain surgery due to a car accident, was on his way to work eating a breakfast sandwich while driving down one of the busiest highways in Florida. He choked on a piece of his breakfast and had no fluid in the car to help wash it down as he had already polished off his coffee. He had no where to pull over, was unsuccessful trying to dislodge the food by hitting his chest and eventually blacked out going 65 mph. He was traveling over another road when this took place, talk about the worst of the worst timing! His car went off the bridge, flipped and he landed upside down in the middle of traffic on the road underneath. The bright side is that upon impact the food dislodged so he could breathe. The bigger bright side, after surgery and an extended hospital stay he fully recovered. 

Working in the medical industry for years you hear lots of stories, this one by far has been one of the scariest though because it really can happen to anyone, as you have illustrated. Glad you're OK, love your blog. :) - Jill

EmeraldSoul
EmeraldSoul

My (at the time) 3yo son was playing quietly with his toys by my chair. I got up to switch laundry over, and halfway to the laundry room, I heard a strange sound. I rushed back to my son, and he was choking. I had no idea what was in his mouth, because I hadn't left anything small around (I thought), but I started doing the Heimlich. At first it wasn't working, and it's amazing how many terrifying thoughts fly through your head when your kid is in danger and you don't know if you can save them. Finally, some nasty gunk came up, and with it, a quarter! Thirty seconds later, he was fine...it took me a lot longer to recover!

roxana297
roxana297

That really had to suck! 

My story is a little different. I'm pregnant. I was talking to my dad on the phone, and in the conversation my dad advised me to always have crackers on me when leaving the house. So I said, hey I want crackers now...

After munching on a few crackers, the one which I had chosen to be the last (was still on the phone) was a bit more crumbly.. and it accidentally got stuck in my throat. I couldn't breath and I was making horrific sounds while trying to get air in and crackers crumbles out. My dad was still on the phone. It took me 2 minutes to be able to talk again but when I got back, it took my dad another 10 to talk a little bit normal. He was horrified and felt really guilty for telling me about the crackers. I bet his face changed colors. And I know it's mean but I actually think it's really really funny. Though I can't imagine what my dad went through listening to all my funny noises heh.

hgubisch
hgubisch

Happened to me before. Horrifying! Glad you didn't die :)

Michelle Fontanosa-Yee
Michelle Fontanosa-Yee

I'm thankful you're ok. I really enjoyed your podcast of this narrative. You made me laugh at the ALLELUIA part. :)

Sparrowchild
Sparrowchild

O.O Oh my gosh! So glad you're okay! There must be a battle going on between the light and dark cosmic forces. The dark thinks of an unexpected way to get you, but then the light steps in and foils their nefarious schemes.

Cmeisner
Cmeisner

You're so lucky! How horrible! Choking is the worst sensation I've felt and I've given birth to four kids!

Heather McVoy
Heather McVoy

If something's not doing what you want, when in doubt, Force it!! How's that working for ya?

Monna
Monna

A friend of mine did this last year. Only he choked on food - and passed out on the freeway. He crashed through the barrier onto the access road and hit another car. Thankfully, no one was seriously injured! I think he is not so much into eating in the car alone anymore... :/

caroline;)
caroline;)

Sorry for laughing but I do think this would happen to only you! I think you may have stumbled on the perfect way to murder someone. The person would choke to death and by the time police arrived and they did an autopsy the ice would have melted leaving no cause of death. 

sasch017
sasch017

Beechnut cough drops.  I was 5.  I ran to my Mom, wild eyes staring... she looked at me, a bit bored, and handed me a cup of hot tea and told me to drink it.  I am here today to tell the story.  Gotta LOVE Moms!!

MelH
MelH

back in 2011 (Easter weekend) my mother and my son (then almost 3) sat at the table to have lunch. i was talking to her about how i was going to start packing some little things for a trip to Australia to visit my mother-in-law who was dying of cancer. my mom didn't respond to me, so i turned around to see her choking. i got behind her, but couldn't dislodge what was stuck in her throat. i used 2 fingers and swiped in her mouth just as she blacked out. that must have cleared her airway for a moment as she inhaled deeply and looked into my eyes. then she just... slipped away. i was on the phone at the same time with 911. the EMTs all came in the door and got her on the floor to do CPR.

  she was in cardiac arrest. i remember holding my son (who was screaming for his grandma) while i was sobbing and trying to call my uncles and my best friend. after being in cardiac arrest for an hour, she was placed on life support. the day after Easter (2 days later) they did neuro scans to see if there was any brain activity. when the doctor came in to tell me the news, i told him i knew. i knew the moment she took that last deep breath and looked me in the eyes. i knew when i saw her eyes drift off and she turned grey in my arms. i even knew when the firefighter tried to comfort me, telling me that he'd pray for my mother. and i was right. she was brain dead.

 5 days after she choked i was dropping my son off at the crisis nursery so that i could go spend some time with my mom and then have the doctors turn off her machines. i needed to let her go. i got a call as i was signing him in that i needed to get there asap, as her heart rate was slipping and she was "actively dying". i called all of her brothers and my best friend and we met at her bedside. 15 minutes later, she was gone. i was on the phone with my husband and his mother over in Australia (the hospital was quite kind in allowing me to make the call from their lines to them) as she passed.


i now live in Australia with my husband and our son (who is now almost 5!). my mother-in-law passed of cancer 3 weeks after my mom passed away. 


last month i was putzing around on the internet and having a snack of crackers and cheese with grapes. somehow a bit of cracker got stuck in my windpipe and i started choking. i was out of my chair flailing around. i remember trying to drink water so i could cough good and hard (thinking a wet throat would help, i suppose). i thrust myself against the back of the chair to dislodge it. i finally coughed it out, but the one thing that i remember more than anything was the pain. there was this burning that wet from my throat all down my shoulders and into my arms. it was like my muscles were screaming out in pain from the lack of oxygen. that burning pain lasted for another 20-30 minutes after i'd finally calmed down.


what stuck with me from that? every person that told me that my mom would have gone quickly and didn't feel anything from when she choked to death? they were all wrong. she would have been in agonizing pain, and to top it off, she went hearing me screaming and sobbing for her to "not go" while her grandson that was her whole world was crying for his grandma.


Kathy Jennings
Kathy Jennings

Dan, I missed one of the near death experiences and I don't think you linked to them did you? I read all the installments of airlift off the mountain and now this near death by ice, but what is the third one that almost took you out?'

amasawler
amasawler

Yup, chicken tenders. Was enjoying them for lunch at work, Family Guy was on the TV. Disaster. I could feel the chicken rattling off to the right in my chest, where food should not be. Of course, not one asshole in the entire lunch room would help me, they just stared at me while I held onto a wall and a counter trying to cough/vomit the stupid thing up. 3/4 of my vision was black before I hacked it up. Right as my legs went to go out, someone grabbed me from behind and held me up while I gasped for breath. 

I looked like someone had punched me for weeks, my eyes were yellow and green because coughing that hard breaks the vessels in your face and your eyes. It was rather horrific. And then my aunt went and had a baby, and I looked like crap in ALLL the photos taken. 

Of course, once you choke once, it never stops. I've since done it on ice, jello, and pretty near everything else I've eaten. The minute my body detects it might be choking (even if I'm really only swallowing) it seems I involuntarily take a breath.. through a mouth full of food. My autonomic nervous system, is a jerk. 

Nicole
Nicole

Rice. I  choked on rice once. I had a friend over and she dislodged it using the Heimlich.  I told her she saved my life. She hugged me and said. Now we're even. you saved mine a long time ago. My daughter, who'd been sitting across from me had tears running down her face. After it was over (the whole thing went down in about 30 seconds), the reality of it hit her and her fear that she'd nearly lost me set in.  

There's nothing wrong with you, Dan. Choking is scary as hell. Seems to me you had a guardian angel watching out for you.   Also seems to me the universe was telling you in a not-so-subtle way to slow down and breath.

BarbaraCarlson
BarbaraCarlson

Okay, I'm having trouble not laughing. Mostly because you didn't die. If you had, that would be sad. I'm fond of saying that when stupid people do stupid things, it's just sad, but when smart people do stupid things, it's freaking hilarious! I know a lot of smart people who have done really stupid things and I nearly croaked laughing. I'm glad you're okay and that you didn't wreck. It would have been mystifying to the first reponders, though, if you'd actually passed out and wrecked because by then the ice would have indeed melted. Sounds like a great murder mystery.

When I was a child I slurped up the last of a drink and found an entire ice cube (like from the trays in your freezer) halfway down my throat. I was able to swallow it rather than choke, but I still remember just HOW MUCH that hurt. Wow.

Aside from that incident, I do stupid things all the time. The most recent, most stupid and most dangerous was when I took one of my ferrets outside on my shoulder in the dark to try to get the license plate of a drunk guy trying to drive away from a parking spot. The ferret jumped off my shoulder and ran for the back tire just as the guy was drunkenly gunning the engine backwards. I dove after the ferret to save it, and placed my head right about where the tire would go 'bump' as he backed up. He couldn't possibly see me even if he looked. Luckily, I was able to scoop up the ferret and roll out of the way onto the sidewalk as the guy backed up. I was lying on the sidewalk staring at a back tire, desperately trying to get my legs out of the way in case he decided to back up more. He drove off, I got up and made a mental note not to do that again. It's a wonder I'm alive.

NancyVisserBarrett
NancyVisserBarrett

I have a problem where I can't swallow round pills bigger than about 1/8" diameter, or more than one oval shaped pill at a time.  I've had to insist on some brand-name medications rather than the generic because of the size / shape of the pill. Vitamins? FORGET IT!  I've switched to the chewable gummy bear vitamins.   Apparently, my larynx is more narrow than the average person, and pills (or food that I haven't chewed thoroughly enough) gets stuck, and I spend the next 5 minutes trying to cough it out.  Sometimes, it's just the pill that comes out, other times, I actually end up vomiting before it comes out.  My mom said my grandma had the same problem (gee, thanks for that AND the button nose that won't hold up my glasses).  Funny thing is, it never was a problem until I was about 35.

Most memorable time this happened was at San Francisco Airport, waiting for my connecting flight.  Someone called security, who then called the paramedics.  The whole time, a lady was sitting next to me telling everyone not to panic, that I didn't really need the paramedics (turns out she was an RN).  This was one of the times that I ended up vomiting (all over my clothes of course).  I had just enough time to run into the restroom and change into another set of clothes, begging the gate attendant to hold the flight for me just for a couple minutes.  I've also choked in the car, but luckily there was a place to pull over.  Choking is definitely not a fun experience, but even my 7 year old has become pretty blase about the whole thing ("Hey Dad - Mom's choking again.  Mom, you really need to slow down when you're eating.").

Jacqueline3
Jacqueline3

The first and only time I chocked was in my high school classroom, back of the class.
I had a thing for smooshing my skittles flat in my mouth before proceeding to actually eat them.
Well, this wasn't such a brilliant idea when the flat skittle became lodged over my breathing tubes. To the point that I had to hit my desk and get a friends attention just in time for everyone to notice, and then have it suddenly and simply become unlodged.
Not only did noone seem too concerned but my teacher made a note of making fun of me in front of everyone and commenting on the fact that I'd never want to eat skittles again. I did. I kept eating them right then. It's not like I could live in fear of skittles because of one moment. One wholey terrifying and embarrasing moment.

Woobie21
Woobie21

Choking is indeed a very frightening experience... whether you're doing the choking yourself or someone else you're near (related or not) is doing the choking...

I hate to say it, Dan, but I fully concur with you... what brought you to that very scary period in time choking on that glob of ice... definitely not one of the more brilliant things I've read about you doing. :D  It's *supposed* to be "Practice random acts of kindness"  NOT "random acts of stupidity". :D :D :D

Sorry you had to go through that experience, but *definitely* glad you made it through and you're ok. *hugs*

MicheleClarkPowell
MicheleClarkPowell

There is something in mouthwash that closes my throat up. Sometimes I forget this... Also, fresh strawberries do this to me too. It's the scariest feeling in the world to be alone and choking. It's one of the few reason's these days that I wish I had a significant other in my life. Of course, they were never around in the past when this happened so.... <3 ya Dan.

Jessicam
Jessicam

That is horrifying. Choking, whether it be me, my child or somehone else, is one of the most terrifying things to me. Because how do you get whatever it is OUT! You can't reach in and grab it, and if the heimlich (sp) manuever doesn't work, you're screwed. I chocked on a piece of potato salad when I was small and I never recovered. I can't even swallow pills. I try and try but my throat just closes up for fear of chocking on the stupid pill. I am the pain in the butt mom who reminds my 6 year old to only put one piece of popcorn in his mouth at a time and to chew well... I hate mozzeralla sticks and I still cut grapes in half. What a scary experience!!!

I'm glad you are ok!

booksaremycrack
booksaremycrack

I almost choked on cheese when I was a kid.  I was eating a really cheesy piece of lasagna at an Italian restaurant.  I didn't feel like patiently cutting off a bite, so I just threw the bite in my mouth with the the thought that the the line of melted sheese would either end quickly or that I could bite it to break it off.  Yeah, no such luck. It was a really long and thick piece of cheese that I couldn't break and couldn't swallow fsat enough. I started choking on it, and no one knew what to do.  My mom started pounding on my back, and our fiends and everyone else in the restaurant just kind of stared at me in horror.  Thankfully, my brain kicked in, and I pulled the cheese back out of my mouth and plopped it back on the plate.  It was rather gross and embarassing, but I learned to take small bites.

jbmonco
jbmonco

I nearly choked on a coke when I was drinking when a friend told a stupid joke. I stood up in the classic "I'm choking"  to death pose and someone gave me the Heimlich lifting me off the ground twice. When I could breathe I rushed outside to compose myself and stop coughing without noticing who saved me. When I came back the waitress tried to ignore us so we might just leave but finally showed up so I could ask her who saved me and go thank him. When I told my husband later that night, he didn't believe me. You can't choke on a coca cola he said. Yeah if it goes down and get stuck in your airway, you can. Upside to it all was a friend at work thought it was funny and gave me a Heimlich poster which I pinned on my office wall. Later I gave someone the Heimlich who was choking on a sandwich in the locker room.

Melissa Jhenine
Melissa Jhenine

When I was pregnant with my oldest, I choked on my vomit while in a restaurant restroom. Of course, the stall door was closed and I was "alone" with my agony. Thankfully for both me and my son, I was able to dislodge the obstruction.

Danielle Wise
Danielle Wise

Glass?? Wow. Glad. And listen to comments above to get checked!

Cynthia Bohli
Cynthia Bohli

My goodness, Dan!! What a frightening experience! Yes, I've choked on a hard candy. Years ago at a boyfriend's house. Both he and his family were useless, and I somehow managed to force the candy back out of my windpipe. I had hives all over my face from straining to get it out. That experience was the 1st of many clues that this guy was all wrong for me!!

DebPetri
DebPetri

I do this kind of thing ALL the time!  Usually I just choke on my own saliva because I forget to swallow (or something, I haven't figured it out yet...in almost 50 years!) or I'm talking and not paying attention.  Maybe that's the problem...not paying attention!  Anyway, Dan, I'm just glad there was a happy ending to your story...despite all the embarrassment!  Not that anyone noticed, I'm sure...  :)

Heather Nale
Heather Nale

Goodness, this post brought back memories of me being pregnant & out to eat with my husband and started choking on my food, my only thought was 'my baby!'.. a stranger started to touch me when my husband said 'Careful, she's pregnant' and the food cleared my windpipe.. Get checked for diabetes, Dan!

sniptheelf
sniptheelf

I nearly choked to death on a Jolly Rancher before. If it wasnt for my sister I would have died, I was near seconds away from blacking out. And it is NOT fun afterwards when air rushes back into your lungs for the first breath of that heavenly sweet air. It made my lungs feel like it was going to explode. Then the next breath it was great!

I heard that it is never good to drink water from a plastic bottle if its been left in your car in the heat or extreme cold. Something about the breakdown of plastic and being carcinogenic.

liahonagirl
liahonagirl

oh, yikes! I'm so glad you're ok! no more dumb almost-life-ending moves for you, k? some of us (dare I say most!) kinda really like you and hope you're around for a good long while to come! :)

Bonnie Vance
Bonnie Vance

Dan you need to see a doctor and be checked for diabetes. Thirst like that should not be ignored.