This past weekend I took the dog, the tent, my book, and a cooler of food and beverage and went to the lake. Spent a few days just decompressing, getting my head right, and enjoying the cool water as a respite from the near triple digit heat.
Got home fairly early on Sunday, unpacked, cleaned some gear, and went to the pub for a quick pint and a bite to eat.
Sunday afternoon was spent doing laundry and getting caught up on chores that I'd ignored the past couple days. I grilled some bratwurst and heated a can of baked beans for dinner. Added diced bell peppers and diced onions, as well as some liquid smoke and a splash or two (okay, okay, three splashes) of hot sauce, then sliced the brats and mixed it all together. If I use the "Family Size" can of beans and grill three or four brats, it makes enough for three meals or so.
At any rate, once it was ready, I sat down with a bowl and the television remote and took a bite. Normal sized bite, not a monster spoonful, and chewed it as one normally does.
Then as soon as I swallowed, it lodged itself in my esophagus and refused to budge. Not going down, not coming up.
I tried to cough it up, as it felt somewhat like choking, but to no avail. In a moment of remarkably calm reflection, part of my brain told me "You're still breathing, so it's not in the trachea. So, while this is uncomfortable, you have time..."
I tried without success to burp and vomit, thinking that would dislodge it, but no dice.
After struggling with this for a half hour or so, it began to get REALLY uncomfortable. To the point of painful. Those who know me are aware that I've got a fairly high tolerance for pain -- no delicate flower here, no sire -- and I reluctantly gave in to the reality: I needed some help.
For the first time in my life, I called 9-1-1 for myself. The fire engine got there shortly before the ambulance did, and I give all of them full marks for being kind, considerate, polite, and professional. I suppose me mentioning that I was a retired flight medic with 15 years of EMS experience helped in some regard.
They gave me a bag in which to spit -- the body, recognizing there is food in the upper GI tract, naturally produces a lot of saliva to facilitate swallowing. However, not being able to swallow, I had streams of saliva to spit out. I'm talking a LOT of spit.
During the ride to the ER, the paramedic treating me mentioned he had an EMT student, and would it be alright if the student did an assessment on me. He went to listen to lung sounds by putting his stethoscope on my back, but he didn't lift my t-shirt. "Son," I told him, "you cannot fully assess a patient that you cannot see. And you cannot see a patient when they still have their clothes on. You're going to have to get used to the idea of removing a patient's clothing as the circumstances dictate."
Got to the ER, and was directed straight into a room, where the doctor (and nurse and a tech) walked in at the same time as we did. I had told the EMT student that the first thing the doctor would try would be Glucagon, as it purportedly has some smooth muscle relaxing properties, although I've never seen it work for esophageal spasm, and the ER doctor said as much as well: "We have to try Glucagon, as the GI team won't bother coming down until we have tried it, even though it never works."
Sure enough: Didn't work.
The GI team finally showed up and wheeled me off to the GI Lab, where I was soon put under general anesthesia and had an emergent Upper GI Endoscopy. This involves an endotracheal tube in my trachea to protect my airway and keep me properly ventilated and oxygenated, and then a second tube down my esophagus to locate and remove the offending food.
Once completed, the anesthesia was terminated and I slowly came back to consciousness. I'd called my cousin Eric before I went under and asked him to pick me up and give me a ride home, which he did. Around 10:00 pm or so I got home, let Jake out to use the potty, and promptly fell into bed.
Now, two days hence, I've still got a bit of a sore throat, but not as sore as it was yesterday, and my neck is a bit stiff. Heck, my whole body is a bit achy, but I'm finally able to eat something that resembles solid food.
Anyway, getting food stuck in your esophagus is rather unpleasant, and not something I wish to repeat.
0/10, would not recommend.