Food going down the wrong pipe

Have you ever been eating lunch, and suddenly are overcome by an epileptic fit of coughing, hacking and choking from food that you just ate going down the wrong pipe?

I just had that experience, and thought I would talk about the perfunctory results of this action, rather than how to prevent it, or deal with it, while it is happening. I figure there are plenty of people, who can tell me how to prevent it. But…lest we forget Murphy’s LawMurphy’s law is an adage or epigram that is typically stated as: Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.

Yes folks, regardless of how many times you may attempt to tell me how to eat, choking on something that I am eating could inevitably happen for any of a number of reasons.

The experience of choking on food in your upper airway can be an excruciating, burning sensation.

If one looks at the symptoms of choking on something, they can look very scary:

  • The person cannot speak or cry out, or has great difficulty and limited ability to do so.
  • Breathing, if possible, is labored, producing gasping or wheezing.
  • The person has a violent and largely involuntary cough, gurgle, or vomiting noise, though more serious choking victims will have a limited (if any) ability to produce these symptoms since they require at least some air movement.
  • The person desperately clutches his or her throat or mouth, or attempts to induce vomiting by putting their fingers down their throat.
  • If breathing is not restored, the person’s face turns blue (cyanosis) from lack of oxygen.
  • The person does any or all of the above, and if breathing is not restored, then becomes unconscious

I believe that coughing until you are unconscious is inherently dangerous.

Interestingly, many of us do not remember the results of not aspirating. Who can forget the burning feeling that you have, as you struggle vainly to rid yourself of this foreign object, lodged in your epiglottis? How about how many times you are drinking something; water, soda, alchohol…anything to take away the burning sensation that accompanies the burning sensation in our throat, preventing us from breathing properly? Oh, why do we forget so easily?

Just look at the A-list people who have died from choking on food:

  • Hollywood star Clint Eastwood saved a man from choking on 5 February 2014 in California.[8]
  • The former President of the United States, George W. Bush, survived choking on a pretzel on January 13, 2002, an event that received major media coverage.[9]
  • Jimmie Foxx, a famous Major League Baseball player, died by choking on a bone.[10]
  • Tennessee Williams, the playwright, died after choking on a bottle cap.[11]
  • An urban legend states that obese singer Mama Cass choked to death on a ham sandwich. This theory arose out of a quickly discarded speculation by the coroner, who noted a partly eaten ham sandwich and figured she may have choked to death. In fact, she died of a heart condition, often wrongly referred to in the media as heart failure.[12]
  • Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother notably experienced three major choking incidents where a fish bone became lodged in her throat: initially on 21 November 1982, when she was taken from Royal Lodge to the King Edward VII Hospital for an operation at 3am;[13] secondly in August 1986 at Balmoral, when she was taken to the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, though no operation was needed;[13] and in May 1993, when she was admitted to the Aberdeen Infirmary once again for an operation under general anaesthetic.[14]
  • Dr. Royce Johnson performed an emergency tracheostomy on Pauline Larwood(Bakersfield California resident) at “The Mark” a local restaurant. Pauline was choking on her steak when Bo Fernandez, General Manager Executive Chef at The Mark said, “She’s choking! She’s choking!”‘. After attempting the heimlich maneuver Dr. Royce Johnson made an incision on Larwood’s throat and inserted the casing of a ballpoint pen into her trachea. Larwood was then rushed to a local hospital and was further treated.[15]
  • Air Marshal Subroto Mukerjee, the first Chief of the Air Staff of the Indian Air Force (IAF), died on 8 November 1960 at Tokyo by choking on a piece of food lodged in his windpipe.[

I don’t know about you, but it makes me want to swear off food.

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