Ways to Die


This morning, for the second time in five days, I found myself thinking, “this is a pathetic way to die”. The first instance, I will tell you about later. Tomorrow maybe. The second, I’ll tell you now, and just so you know, I blame it all on a dastardly bite of a biscuit.

Now there is everyday choking, the kind where you gag and cough and wave your hands wildly and your friend Rhonda sits across the table still casually eating her spaghetti, and remarking between bites “That’s good. As long as you can still cough, you’re fine.” And then there is real honest-to-god choking, that gasping, eye-bulging, blood pulsing and absolutely-no-air-getting-through kind of choking. This morning’s incident was the latter.

This was my worst choking incident since the time when I was three years old and my Pop had to Heimlich the butterscotch candy out of my throat. Within seconds, all three of the boys were in the kitchen, freaking out, while both dogs danced and barked in circles around us. By this point, I am leaning over the stainless-steel sink while G.T. pounds on my back, Remy moves in for the Heimlich and Mouse flaps his arms hysterically. And I am thinking how fucking stupid it is that I am about to die here, standing in my kitchen with my screaming dogs and my flailing family all around me.

Then, as if by magic, I catch the tiniest rasping bit of a breath. Not a real breath. There’ll be twenty or so more of these itty-bitty ragged draws of air before a real breath comes, but that first bit of air gives me hope.

The strangest thing which happens after you get your breath back when you’ve choked like that is how your veins ache. Or maybe it’s the arteries. I don’t know. But all down my arms, there is this deep throbbing pulse.. And oh, I’m seriously shaking. In fact, for the rest of the day, I’m rattled. Even now, I can still reach back and touch that panic, however briefly, feel my eyes bulging, my throat closed and my whole body fighting what felt like a futile battle for the longest half-minute ever.

Tonight, when he got home, G.T. hugged me on his way through the kitchen. The gesture caught me off guard and made me both happy and a little sad, ‘cause I guess I’m not the only one it rattled. But I’m ok now, and off the biscuits for a good long while, ‘cause damn, that would be a pathetic way to die.

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