Sunday, December 03, 2006

All Choked Up...

You know the feeling—gasping for air, trying not to panic because it will only make things worse. There’s a lump lodged in your throat that feels like the size of a golf ball, only with sharper edges, and it just…won’t…go…down.

The room starts to close-in, the lights begin to blur, and the realization you’re choking to death becomes more than a possibility.
It’s happening.

I wasn’t in a restaurant.
I was alone.
And it scared me.

Part of the post-operative regimen I’ve been following (tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of my cancer surgery) has included all manner of capsules, tablets, and what I call “horse-pills:” Medications obviously designed for dosing elephants, not humans.

One of these is a little larger than the diameter of a quarter, and twice as thick. Thoughtfully, the manufacturer provided scoring so that the tablet can be broken in two before ingesting.
I break them into four pieces.

Normally, I can slam down a whole handful of pills.
Take ‘em with a single swallow of water or juice with nary a cough.
But Saturday night, one of those four pieces of broken horse tablet decided to fight to the finish, and lodged in my upper esophagus.

I blinked.
Tried to swallow.
It hurt.
Then the gag-reflex kicked-in, and for the next ten minutes, my body played pushme pullyou with that quarter of a horse pill that would not budge.

I retched.
I choked.
I took deep breaths—which only hurt worse.
I heaved.
I hove—and discovered I could get water down my throat.
At least I could breathe.

Finally, the wedge of horse-pill shimmied down my gullet, complaining the entire way. I was exhausted…ribs aching from the exertion, muscles in my neck screaming from the exertion.
And my voice was shot.

Raw, gravelly and tired, the exertion left me with no strength in my larynx with which to carry on a conversation.

An aunt who is a nurse said I had esophagitis—inflammation of the esophagus. My otolaryngologist on call over the weekend said to just rest my voice and take it easy. The muscles in my throat were tired and needed a rest.

I’ve learned my lesson on ingesting those horse pills…think I’ll crumble them up in a glass and add water.
That way I can avoid becoming a hoarse whisperer.

No comments: