Of all the ways I've imagined how my daddy's life might end, I never considered that he could choke to death. Fortunately it didn't turn out quite that bad.
He wanted to eat a steak at Outback to celebrate his 80th birthday, so my sister and I made plans to have a family dinner there last Saturday night. Joe and I brought my parents over to the city since my folks don't drive after dark, and our son and his girlfriend were coming as an added surprise. We had a table for 8 and all was going well. Son had his digital camera and took some pictures, and we were laughing and joking as usual. Then my dad took a big bite of steak, and swallowed it the wrong way and began to choke. Joe is a first aid and CPR teacher, but the meat wouldn't come back up when he and the manager tried the Heimlich manuever. A doctor and two nurses were there and helped Joe do CPR after my dad went down and stopped breathing. It was only 3-4 minutes until the ambulance arrived, and the paramedics were able to use a forceps to pull the meat out (they told Joe there was no way that meat would have come up with the Heimlich). They finally stabilized him in the ER and sent him up to the cardiac critical care unit. The first 36 hours he remained unconscious but responsive to stimuli; yesterday morning he started waking up and trying to talk. His body jerks spasmodically, but that could improve as time passes. He knew who we were yesterday and he was able to talk fairly clearly by the end of the day. He is breathing on his own, and will have the physical therapist evaluation today. We expect him to go to rehab when he gets out of the hospital.
It was so scary. Talk about everything changing in the blink of an eye.