Saturday, July 21, 2007

Almost an Emergency---A Cautionary Tale

I take a relatively large amount of pills twice a day----mostly supplements with a few allopathic medications---and have always prided myself in how I can toss a handful into my mouth and swallow them with a few sips of water. That said, several minutes ago I did my usual morning routine and tossed back my substantial morning meds as I stood in the dining room. My wife and a friend who spent the night were standing nearby and watched as I immediately realized that I had aspirated one of the capsules. Trying not to panic and still able to talk, I said "I think I aspirated one of those." Our visiting friend said, "No, I don't think so." I sat down to assess further.

Taking a few deep breaths, I could distinctly hear a whistle with each inspiration, signaling to me without a doubt that there was a pill lodged in my trachea. A few strong coughs produced discomfort but no results. I continued to try not to panic as Mary and our friend watched with concern. I knew that Mary was ready to act if necessary.

In those few short moments, some of my thoughts were along these lines: "Oh man, if we have to go to the hospital, we won't be able to meet David for breakfast at 10:30!", and "It's so beautiful out---I don't want to go to the ER!", and "I really don't want respiratory lavage."

Apparently, the thought of lung lavage galvanized me to keep coughing, and several strong coughs later I produced a large capsule of magnesium from the depths of my trachea. Our visiting friend was staring right at me from three feet away, her mouth agape in a perfect "O". "Holy shit!" she exclaimed at least once, if not twice. Holy shit is right.

I coughed again and the whistle was gone. Luckily, Mary absolved me of having to take that extra capsule of magnesium. Thankfully enough, now I can go to breakfast, enjoy some coffee and eggs, go about my day, and resolve to take my meds like normal people do---one or two at a time. As for aspiration, I don't recommend it for anyone. Breathing is so much better, and I resolve to continue to do so uninterrupted for years to come.
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