Monday, November 09, 2009

It Isn’t H1N1 Swine Flu – But Just As Deadly

The other day I was chomping on some Timbits (mini donuts from famed Canadian donut franchise Tim Horton’s) in a very public space – a food court.

I was enjoying my moment of relaxation, albeit one which is fattening and probably none to healthy.

Then I just happened to swallow the wrong way, and I began choking on one of the mini-pastries. I was hacking and coughing very lou


You’d expect in a civilized society, some of the many people in the area would come over to see if I was alright. Instead, everyone scattered – running away as if I was infected with some deadly virus.

That’s probably what they thought – that I was coughing due to some flu – or worse, THE flu – the H1N1 Swine Flu.

Never mind that I couldn’t breathe, with the Timbit lodged halfway down my throat, as I turned various shades of blue. It’s everyone for themselves.

Luckily, I was able to dislodge the troubled piece of food, and after a few moments, I had caught my breath and was back to normal. I even managed to have some more Timbits.

Though I was troubled with the reaction of those around me – had I not been able to get the food out of my throat, eventually I would have died.

Though I admit, it was far from a near death experience. Most of us have c

A Tim Hortons in South Portland, Maine.Image via Wikipedia

hoked on something or another throughout our lives, and most of us live to eat another meal.

But in those rare circumstances, where something really gets horribly stuck in someone’s windpipe, you hope there is someone around that not only knows the Heimlich maneuver, but is also willing to stop and assist.

Thanks to the media hype over the pandemic flu spreading across the globe, there is understandably quite a bit of concern with avoiding its deadly grasp.

Most of the symptoms of the H1N1 flu aren’t visible – other than the cough, running nose, sneezing, and perhaps the lethargic movement of someone who is suffering from it.

You can’t see a fever, sore throat, muscle aches, or upset stomach (unless the person loses their lunch). So the typical signs someone may be sick – such as coughing – are just enough to warn others to stay away.

Again, very understandable, but also a failing of society because it shows we are a bunch of individuals, rather than caring creatures that sees someone suffering, and feels compelled to offer some sort of help.

A demonstration of abdominal thrustsImage via Wikipedia

If I were walking across the street and suddenly hit by an oncoming car, most likely others would stop to assist. It is pretty hard to ignore a person, lying across the roadway.

Though there are risks to others associated with this as well. Those offering assistance could be hit by another car that doesn’t see us, or they could get blood or other bodily fluid on themselves, and become contaminated with a virus (like H1N1) or some other disease (if I were sick).

I suppose if I had passed out in the food court from choking, then a crowd would gather, and someone may have stepped up to the plate to help.

Then again, maybe not.

You go through his wallet; I’ll take his shoes . . .

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1 comment:

  1. I am glad you are o.k.

    This is not an isolated case of societal apathy.

    In 2005, at a diner here in North Jersey, my wife and I were enjoying a late night meal when a man across the room started choking on his toast. He jumped up making the universal sign for choking, his adult daughter started screaming for help. The waitress and busboy who were mere feet away ran. The patrons dining around them sat idly by. After watching this for about 10 seconds I took off my watch and ran across the room and performed a successful Heimlich.

    Before you say "aww what a great thing you did" - stop right there. Me performing the Heimlich should not be some great feat. I personally think that this was a sad moment. In a room full of people and employees of this diner, how could I have been the only person willing or able to perform this maneuver on this man? I literally was the farthest human away from this scene.

    Society, as a whole, more often than not disappoints me.

    Again, I am glad you are o.k.