chew your food 20 times

Don’t choke on your chicken.

Don’t try this at home.

I’ve long been a fast eater, prone to taking rather large bites—particularly when it comes to carnivorous feeding. And chicken has always been akin to dessert for me. As a matter of fact my dad used to call me a ‘chicken hawk’ because I loved the bird more than cookies or candy. From a very young age I could strip a chicken drumstick clean to the bone, knuckles and all, before quickly moving on to the next appendage. I stopped shy of eating the bones themselves only because I was told they can splinter and become dangerous. Admittedly it is was hard for me to think of chicken as being dangerous. Outrageous! Chicken has always been nothing but pure goodness, and each time chicken was served in our house there ensued a veritable feeding frenzy. And that never changed as I became an adult. I am not inclined toward violence, but do NOT get between me and a cooked chicken.

I’m a chicken hawk.

And so it was on New Year’s Eve day, when I happened upon a roasted poultry carcass in the kitchen, that my eyes lit up and my salivary glands began to do their thing. A low growl emanated from deep within as I enthusiastically commenced to hoark down large hunks of dark meat like it was going out of style. Before the first bite had passed through the pipe into my stomach it was followed immediately by another chunk. Having not eaten much all day in my haste to strip the house of Christmas lights and perform other assorted outdoor chores, I was ravenous. Chicken. Grrrr…Don’t get between the UA and his chicken (I may be repeating myself).

Nom nom nom.

As the sensation of pain/pressure built in my esophagus I realized, Houston, there may have been a slight problem. I didn’t feel as though I was choking, per se—certainly I wasn’t panicked or I’d have gestured to Mrs. UA to commence with the Heimlich Maneuver. Of course she’d have thought I was being inappropriate, again, and would have dismissed my antics. I remained calm, likening the situation to a sweeper blocking a river channel. I reasoned that flood waters tend to remove woody debris, so I reached for a glass of water to help clear the blockage. I tipped the glass to my mouth and…

Imagine this river is my throat and that tree is made of chicken.

The next thing I knew I was seated in the family room recliner, being instructed by Mrs. UA not to get up, “The EMT’s are here.”

Thanks to Duvall Fire for their rapid response.

I had no idea why I was sitting in the chair, how I got there, or why a very tall, handsome man dressed in a firefighter’s uniform was seated before me, asking questions as Mrs. UA swooned in the background. I answered the inquisitions as best I could, apparently repeating myself several times. It should also be noted that my head seemed to hurt and as I reached to remove my hat I felt a growing bump on the back of my head. When I pulled my hand away, there was a small amount of blood and hair, attached to a small chunk of scalp. Slowly it came back to me…

I have a new bald spot.

Up to this point Mrs. UA had no idea what had happened—all she knew was that she had heard a loud crash as the water glass hit the table. Turning to see what the commotion was all about, she observed me falling backward at a 45 degree angle, headed toward the floor. I didn’t crumple into a heap, nor did my knees buckle. No, I toppled straight over like a short tree, my head luckily breaking my fall as I hit the hardwoods.

Series of events.

Mrs. UA had initially feared the worst, that I’d suffered a stroke. I was conscious but not alert as the 911 dispatcher calmly had my wife conduct a couple of simple tests that ruled out a stroke. Perhaps I’d had a heart attack? Mrs. UA had no idea until I told the EMT what had happened: I had passed out trying to flood my blocked craw. Apparently I repeated myself several times when the EMT’s first arrived, but I have no recollection of having done any such thing. Apparently I repeated myself several times when…oh, wait.

I was still feeling rather fuzzy as a series of questions came my way, one of which was whether or not I had recently taken any medications. To that I responded affirmatively, “I took a couple of Tylenol earlier today.”

“Why did you take Tylenol?” asked the EMT.

“Yesterday I drove 12 hours round trip to Oregon. My neck and back are just a little road weary,” was my response.

“What were you doing in Oregon?” questioned the EMT.

“I had to drive to LaGrande to pick up a new boat…are you a fisherman, by chance?” I inquired, still a bit loopy.

Turns out both he and his partner were, so I insisted that they open the door to the garage to see my new toy. They instantly became my new best friends, as this is what they saw…

My new toy: Stream Tech Salmonfly

After a quick ride to the ER where the doctor checked my blood sugar levels, hooked me up to an EKG and ultimately did a CT scan, it was determined that other than a mild concussion, I was medically normal. Mrs. UA took me home where we enjoyed a rather low-key New Year’s Eve. The next morning I awoke with a headache, which isn’t terribly uncommon on New Year’s Day. But instead of alcohol, it was chicken I had to blame for the way I was feeling. Since then Mrs. UA has had me a on a short leash come mealtime, watching over me carefully to make sure that I take small bites and chew my food 20 times. Chicken still excites me and I’ll have to exercise caution and dig deep for self discipline whenever confronted by the tempting bird.

But really this isn’t about me—it’s about my new boat.

UA in ER after EKG and CT scan. I’m OK, FYI.