Cheryl's Blog

Week 15 – This message might just save a life

Last night Michael and I had dinner with friends and during a discussion about dealing with unexpected crises, we discovered that both Michael and our friend, Greg, had the experience of saving someone’s life using the Heimlich maneuver in a restaurant.

I remembered I’d written a blog about it so I could share what to do should you find yourself in the presence of someone choking (I hope you never do).

I took our discussion last night as a sign to share this experience and resource with you again just in case.

Here’s what happened…

Michael and I met two friends, Annie and Bruce, for a meal at one of our favorite restaurants. The evening started out with us catching up on the recent happenings of our lives and plenty of laughs — something I love.

Once the food arrived, we started eating as we continued our conversation. Within minutes Annie began choking on a piece of salmon.

At first, I didn’t realize the severity of what was happening until Annie looked at me with terror in her eyes and pointed to her throat. That’s when I knew something was seriously wrong.

I immediately turned to Michael for help. As a fitness professional who’s worked in the health industry for years, I knew he’d know what to do.

Sure enough, before the words were even out of my mouth, Michael was behind Annie using the Heimlich maneuver. After three unsuccessful attempts, I yelled to Bruce to call 911. It was a horrible moment. Then, on the fourth attempt, Michael bent Annie over at the waist and tried again. This time the obstruction moved and she began to breathe.

As you can imagine, it took quite a while for all of us to recover.

After such a frightening experience, I felt compelled to share the story with you for several reasons. First, had Michael not been there, both Bruce and I admitted we would not have known what to do. While we’d certainly heard of the Heimlich maneuver, it became obvious pretty quickly that there was more to it than simply grabbing someone around the waist and pulling in. Not only were there specific ways to administer the technique, we also learned that without doing it correctly one could seriously injure the person involved.

Second, we learned from Michael that it could take several attempts (maybe more than 20!), to dislodge an obstruction. I was already panicking when Michael’s first three attempts hadn’t cleared her airway. Had I been the one performing the maneuver, there’s a good chance I would have stopped and rushed to look for help.

That decision could have cost Annie her life.

Finally, it’s not until something like this happens that you have a visceral sense of what helplessness feels like when someone you love is in trouble and you don’t know what to do.

I’d like to spare you that experience.

Please take a few moments to read about how to perform the Heimlich maneuver here.

And while you’re at it, you might even consider taking one of the first-aid courses the Red Cross offers to the public – some are offered online. You can read about them here.

More than ever before I now realize that being prepared may just save a life!


This Week’s Video

This week’s video offers a different kind of adjustment – let’s call it a ‘self-compassion maneuver.’ Thanks, Patti! You can watch it here.  heart-icon#x2665;