I’ve often reflected when there is news of an accident, terrorist attack, or natural catastrophe that once in a while death is only seconds away and yet one has no premonition of it whatsoever. Some of those killed by the bomb in Thailand two days ago must have experienced something like that.
Last night so did I.
Peter and I were having our evening meal, and I suddenly began to choke on a piece of lamb. I began to gag almost immediately and knew that I was not going to be able to cough it up myself. I signalled to Peter that I needed him to do the Heimlich maneuver, which he did, but my gagging got worse. It went on for several desperate minutes. Between gagging, and Peter shouting “Terry!” I could feel the air in my lungs depleting and I knew that if I couldn’t start breathing I had literally seconds of consciousness and then of life left.
My first thought was that Peter knew where our wills were. Then I thought what a waste of money the replacement lumber I’d ordered earlier in the day to repair our property fence would be. Gag! “Terry, breathe!” Gag!
And then, although I was still gagging, I knew I was getting air into my lungs. If I concentrated I could breathe and wasn’t going to die.
Eventually I sat down, my heart pounding and my blood pressure probably reaching 200/150.
“Can I get you anything?” Peter finally asked.
Yes, I said, a large glass of sherry.
I’d already had a glass of wine before dinner, and I rarely – never, in fact – have more than a single drink. I am too sensitive to alcohol and quickly feel sick.
But I sat there and drank the sherry. My heart rate and blood pressure gradually returned to normal, and even when I’d finished a very large glass of sherry, I was still stone cold sober. But I’m afraid I couldn’t eat another bite of food.
Peter made my promise never to do something like that again.
I’ll do my very best. At least I’ll get the property fence repaired before I try that trick again. Anyway, I don’t feel afraid of being dead. But chocking to death isn’t my preferred method of departure. Especially on a stupid little piece of lamb. It’s definitely not worth it.