Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Heimlich, anyone?

Years ago, I was able to use what I had learned in a CPR course when I performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on someone until an ambulance arrived and took him to the hospital.  I was told by the EMT's that I saved his life.  It's one of the good things I've done with my life.

Yesterday, I was enjoying a delicious meal of Beet and Goat Cheese Salad with a nice crusty bread on the side when I accidentally inhaled a piece of the bread instead of chewing it as I was supposed to.  I was doing something no one should do:  I was talking while I popped the little morsel into my mouth.  Almost instantly, I knew I was in trouble.  I tried to breathe and could not catch a breath.  My airway was completely blocked.  I tried to cough and couldn't.  All I could do was make this godawful sound while the person sitting across from me exclaimed, "You're choking?  I wish I knew the Heimlich Maneuver!".  She said I was turning a very deep shade of crimson.  The waitress came by as I continued to gasp and here's where things get fuzzy.  I felt myself getting incredibly dizzy and the next thing I knew the bread had been dislodged.  I had been trying desperately to get some tea down to move the bread and I guess it worked.  So I didn't die, although it certainly felt like I was going to be meeting my maker the way Mama Cass Elliott reportedly did.   I guess the thing that freaked me out is that I could have died!  I was choking, I was turning purple and I was dizzy.  I think the next step would have been unconsciousness.  Afterward, my throat felt raw and tender and I kept sipping tea to try to soothe it.  It honestly had been one of those experiences where I saw my life flash before my eyes.

So I have made it my goal to make sure that no one else is in the position my friend was in  - at least no one who reads this Blog, which means we gabby eaters are in big trouble!   No one should see a person choking and just sit there and exclaim that they "wish" they could help!  Not when Dr. Henry Heimlich came up with a simple technique to dislodge foreign items (such as bread crusts) from one's airway.  Described as abdominal thrusts, here's how to perform this potentially life-saving technique:

1.)  Pull the victim (of choking) to his or her feet and stand behind him/her with your feet about shoulder width apart to keep yourself steady
2.)  Reach around and circle your hands around the person's abdomen
3.)  Make a fist with your dominant hand (meaning if you are right-handed, you use your right hand) with the thumb facing toward (and into) the person's stomach
4.)  Place this "fist" above the person's belly button and under their breastbone, wrapping your other hand around the fist.
5.)  Pull inward and upward with quick thrusts, making a motion similar to the letter "J" - in, then up.  Repeat until the object is expelled.  (Note: if the person loses consciousness, stop the Maneuver and call 911).

Now, please understand.  I am not by any means being critical of my friend or of anyone who may have witnessed what was happening, hoping I would dislodge the item on my own.  If you don't know how to do the Heimlich Maneuver, you can do more harm than good to the person.  And back slapping really does nothing to move an object out of one's airway once it has found its way in there.  I would have sadly tried that and - well - prayed!  Often when an object like a crusty piece of bread is inhaled instead of swallowed, it does "work its way out" eventually, as mine apparently did.  (I am pretty sure the tea helped!).  But if we can help, by all means, we should.  You never know.  You may actually save a life.

FYI, the Mama's & The Papa's "I Saw Her Again" just started playing on my Pandora station.  Coincidence?  I think not!  O.K.  So Mama Cass didn't really die by choking on a ham sandwich as rumors suggested, but it makes a good story, doesn't it?  

Be safe, eat healthy, exercise, and - please - be ready, willing and able to help someone if the situation arises where you could potentially save a life.   

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Shower Yoga


Yup, you read that right: "Shower Yoga".  It's how I begin my days.  And it not only gets all of my stiff joints and muscles moving after a night of sleep, but it is exhilarating as well.  Here's how it goes:  First I take a nice, very warm shower and then turn the nozzle down so it no longer hits me.  I slide over to the other side of the shower and begin my stretches.  I reach my hands high over my head, interlocking them, and bend back as far as I can.  I actually bend back until I hear (and feel) my back crack.  It is a wonderful feeling - the best!  Then I put my feet about shoulder width apart and reach my hands over my head again (interlocking them) and bend from the waist - first to the right and then to the left, holding each stretch for 10 seconds  Then I reach my arms out to the sides as far as they can go and hold that pose for 10 seconds, after which I pull them into the center with my hands, forearms and elbows fused together.  I hold that for 10 seconds as well.  I then repeat the entire sequence, holding each pose for 7 seconds.  I Then reach my hands up high and bend over, touching my toes or grabbing my ankles.  I do that 4 times and hold it 5 seconds each time.  Finally, I do my "Tree".  I begin with my left leg, placing it high on my thigh as I balance on my right foot and hold it for 60 seconds.  I repeat on the left side and then I'm done!  (Note:  the shower is running the entire time, which makes the experience especially refreshing and, well, that's the exhilarating part!).  And I usually pray when I hold the Tree pose, so that part may take longer than 2 minutes).  

I encourage you to try this.  You can vary your stretches, especially if you are a Yoga aficionado.  Just make sure that you engage all of your muscles and that you DO NOT SLIP OR FALL.  It is a wonderful way to start your day.  I have to confess that I suffer from pretty bad arthritis, especially in my lower back and hips.  And since I've been doing Shower Yoga, I have experienced much relief.  I'm not saying its a cure-all, but it's worked for me!