Saturday, October 12, 2013
First Aid Save
Norma and Harvey are a striking couple. Although retired for years now, Harvey still dresses in a full suit and open necked dress shirt. Norma's slim, athletic build, platinum blonde hair and youthful disposition belie her age. She has a calm, coy way of speaking and the only sign of age in this firecracker of a woman is that she has turned her signature stilettos in for flats. She no longer towers over her husband, but still cuts a striking figure. My dad always refers to her a Zsa Zsa (after the actress Zsa Zsa Gabor).
Last night we almost lost her. We were barely fifteen minutes into our meal when Lyndsay started patting Norma's back. What happened next was a flurry of activity over five minutes that rolled before me in slow motion. Norma jumped up, pointing to her throat, eyes wild, gasping for air. I slid out of the booth, calmly and purposefully and took my position behind her to perform the Heimlich maneuver. She suddenly seemed frail and tiny. With my fists, I gave four upward thrusts but couldn't dislodge the blockage. Lyndsay called out that she was turning blue. The gasps were startling and anyone who was in the near empty restaurant had gathered round. A man who worked at the place took over but it was evident he didn't know the technique. A patron with the kindest eyes stepped forward, and asked if he could take over. I nodded, and after two thrusts, she started coughing. She fell into my arms and I nodded a silent thank you to the lifesaving stranger.
It was surreal and shocking and we sat the rest of the meal in quiet trying to resurrect the conversation. But we all knew the truth. We had almost lost her.
As with all crises, the calm I had in the eye of the storm, gave way to hysterical gratitude on the drive home. Thankful for the angel stranger; thankful that she survived to live another day.
Lyndsay and I agreed that knowing first aid is a must! And as we celebrate our Thanksgiving today, I have yet another big reason to be grateful.