By Assunta Ng
Northwest Asian Weekly
Have you ever been in a life or death situation? I was.
Strangely, I had never thought about how lucky I was to be alive until I was fighting for my life a month ago. It was a terrifying experience. This kind of thing tends to hit you without warning, just when you least expect it. It seems to happen when life is smooth and sweet.
It all began with a lousy piece of meat. Yes, there was some stupidity on my part. And boy, did I learn my lesson.
I was eating a late lunch in a restaurant in the Chinatown/International District. A piece of beef got stuck half way down my throat. I could not breathe.
I fought for one more breath — perhaps my last breath. I tried to vomit, but my efforts were in vain.
Somebody in the restaurant suggested that someone squeeze my stomach tight to make me throw up. Someone else wanted to hang me upside down to get that piece of meat out while another strongly objected.
I said to myself, “God, are you telling me this is it?” What about my unfinished business?
Then, in the midst of chaos, Donnie Chin from the International District Emergency Center appeared at the restaurant door. The fire department soon followed and a woman put an oxygen tube into my mouth. Someone called 911, and an ambulance arrived and took me to Providence Seattle Medical Center.
After two hours in the hospital, the piece of meat slowly dropped into my stomach with the help of special medicine that helps to relax my throat muscles. Those terrifying moments still haunt me.
It made me wonder: Have I been taking care of myself?
Why do some of us ignore the signals of our bodies?
A machine will last a long time only if we know how to maintain it properly. It’s the same with our bodies.
There are many ways to take a break during a busy day.
If you cannot take a long break, at least take the time to stretch and drink something. Medical experts say it’s important to drink at least eight glasses of water a day. However, most workaholics forget to sleep, exercise, eat, and drink water.
It was my own fault that I choked on that piece of meat. I was guilty of not taking care of my health. The reason why that accident happened in the first place was because I was too hungry. I was eating late, and I forgot to chew well before I swallowed.
My mistake was also costly. I ended with a $500 copay, from the ambulance fees and emergency room hours.
I want to have good health and to be able to live long enough to see my grandchildren. I have too many things to live for, and I need all the time I can get.
To live well means to have a sound mind and a good body. I hope you have both. Get your health back. Set a goal this Christmas. Take care of yourself. Having good health is the best gift for yourself. ♦
Assunta Ng can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.