Monday, September 10, 2007

Heimlich Maneuver

Dad had Parkinson's disease. One of the many physical deteriorations is the loss of muscle control in the solar plexus area. Coughing becomes harder for someone with Parkinsons. It is easier for them to choke as well.

Dad and I had worked out a bit of non verbal communications before - if he couldn't answer me, I would expect him to wave at me with his arms - once for yes, twice for no. He'd come close to choking a few times before, and always managed to cough it up.

Not this time. He was seated at his easy chair with a TV tray watching television, and I was sitting in mine. He was eating some minute steaks with all the trimmings for supper. Suddenly, he leaned forward, trying unsuccessfully to cough. I asked him if he was choking. He waved. I got up and moved his tray away, and told him to stand up. I pulled him in front of me - he let me direct him. I wrapped my arms around him, made a fist with one hand, and used the other hand to drive it into his solar plexus.


I got a lot of my size from my Dad - in his younger days he was 6'3" with a barrel chest. It was stretching things to get my arms around him and have any slack at all. I thought I had really popped him, but obviously I hadn't. So, I took a breath, reared back and really laid into him, driving the fist in and squeezing him hard. I mean hard.

Still nothing.

Holy crap! Here my Dad is going to die, and I'm apparently not strong enough to jar the food loose! Dad was still standing there patiently awaiting my rescue.

So, I summoned all the strength I had. I pushed my fist away from his chest to take a run - which wasn't far, because of his chest size. I gave it all I had.

Success! Dad started coughing and the food came up - but only after a lot of coughing. In the movies, they show the food flying across the room. I don't know if that really happens or not, considering the movies I'd say probably not. I also wonder about someone with shorter arms than mine would have even been able to apply the maneuver to Dad with any hope of success. I'm thinking Shaq would work nicely, but who's going to help him out?

Dad sat down, and finished his supper. Life went on.

1 comment:

Bob's Blog said...

Scary, but God bless you for being there for him.