It was 3 blocks down the road when I realized that the candy had slipped down my throat. I was behind the wheel, driving my vehicle in traffic and choking. On May 16, 2004.
Choking is an unnerving experience. For one thing, you can’t make any noise. If you know me in real life, you know that I have a tendency to swear when I’m upset. But in that very upsetting moment, my voice was gone.
I pulled my minivan over to the side of the road, stopped the engine and frantically waved my right hand at cars passing by. My left was on my throat - the Universal Choking Sign.
A car approached and pulled over. An older man got out of the car and looked at me - followed by his wife.
He said “are you choking?” and I nodded yes - my hand still on my throat. He looked over at his wife and pointed at her saying “call 911” just like they do in the CPR training video.
He got behind me and did the Heimlich Maneuver with his hands around me and his fists directly under my ribs.
Three times, four times, five times, six times, seven times.
He let go and said “are you still choking?” and I nodded yes.
Once more he took hold and even more forcefully pulled on me from behind. Pulled hard. Eight times.
With that, the lemon drop finally flew out of my mouth. I watched it bounce away into the street. One, two, three bounces before it stopped.
Cars drove by. I turned around to face the man who’d saved my life and fell into his arms in tears.
I told him that my oldest daughter would be graduating from high school in a few short weeks, that I had a little boy who’d be two in September. That he’d saved my life.
He asked his wife when the ambulance was coming. She said she’d been so shocked that she forgot to call 911. All she could do was stare at the scene in front of her.
After a few minutes, I said “Well, I guess I better go. I’m okay. Thank you again, so much!”
I drove over to the hospital and sat in my car in the parking lot for a few minutes until my nervous system calmed down enough to move on with my day.
That day changed my life. I stopped doing things that weren’t aligned with my values. I immediately quit my job selling people on their own imminent deaths. I decided to create my own business and eventually ended up doing what I do now - helping couples connect in the most intimate part of their lives.
And I’m more than grateful to the man who was willing to stop his car at the side of the road to help a complete stranger 16 years ago.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!