Wednesday, June 1, 2011

I wasn't going to die - but still..

Just when life was going great - 

 Yesterday, a little after 2 my neck was bothering me at work and I decided to take something for it.  I was out of aspirin, so I picked 2 Tylenol arthritis tablets.  Slightly bigger than aspirin, but with a smooth coating.  Went to the kitchen to get some water.  Popped in the pills and drank the water.  And a pill got stuck!

Damn!  Someone came in and saw I was in distress, but there wasn’t much he could do.  The pill was in my throat, not my windpipe, so the Heimlich is useless.  I tried to stick my finger down my throat, but I couldn't get the pill to come back up. 

A woman came in, patted my back and talked soothingly to me until the paramedics came.  Yes, paramedics.  Again.  Only this time, the pill didn’t dislodge itself before they arrived.  I ended up being put on a gurney, answering a lot of stupid questions, and being taken to the hospital.

As always, I could breathe, but not swallow.  It’s amazing how much saliva accumulates when you can’t swallow it.  My throat would convulse because of the tiny amount of saliva trickling down, which made me cough, which made me gag.

I was got mad at the one paramedic who reported that I was coughing a lot, like that was the only problem.  As if anyone would ride in an ambulance for coughing issues.   I struggled to gasp out, "No, the problem is that I can't swallow!".  By the time we pulled up to the hospital, a little before 3, the pill had dissolved enough to go down and I could swallow again.  But once you are in the ambulance you don’t get away without seeing a doctor.

Fortunately, they were reasonably quick.  I didn’t see the point in the hospital gown, but I complied.  By 4, I was out again, after seeing a nurse, a physician assistant, the doctor, and the paperwork guy.  The doctor suggested that I see a gastroenterologist and gave me the name of one.  The nurse suggested I was lucky it was a pill, which will dissolve, rather than a piece of meat, which won't.

I discovered I am not as stoical as I had hoped when I feel like I am dying.  Yes, I know not swallowing won’t kill you.  But it can be pretty disruptive.  I also got quite irritated with the paramedics for asking me to talk to them.  Talking made me gag.  When they asked for my life details, I handed them my driver’s license.  (Someone had thoughtfully brought my purse to me.)  I know it's their job, but surely they could see that talking was an effort?

I was quite grateful to the two employees that helped me, but I didn't even see who they were.  Also I was lucky I was at work where there were people around.  Another good thing was that when the paramedics called the hospital, they described me as a "young" woman. 

I now have an appointment with a gastroenterologist (one on my insurance plan) to find out why this keeps happening to me.

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