Marty's Message

My Wife Saved My Life Again!

She saved me (figuratively) when she agreed to marry me, and literally when we were on vacation this summer.

Why would I call this Marty's Message "My wife saved my life again"? Here's why.

I've always called Kristine my rainbow. She brings magic and color to my life. She's figuratively saved my life in so many ways. But I may have to change Kristine's nickname to "my savior" because she has now literally saved my life four times! No joke... she's saved my life FOUR TIMES!

Someone needs to tell me to take human bites!

This story needs a little background. Truth is, I have a problem. I choke on food. The kind of choking that kills more than five thousand people every year in the U.S.

Why do I choke? A couple things. Let's just say I eat aggressively. Not good. I also had head and neck cancer. With that came chemo and radiation. The treatments saved my life. But they also jacked up my neck and throat permanently. That makes it harder to swallow.

Read about it: Marty's Cancer Journey

Now, if I'm not careful, I choke. It's terrifying. A piece of food blocks my airway. I cannot breathe. I cannot speak. The first two times I choked was before my cancer. First time, I choked on turkey. Kristine wrapped her arms around my waist. She performed the Heimlich maneuver. It worked immediately.

My late parents Marty and Rose (center) were there the first time I choked on a hunk of turkey at a family dinner (so were Chloe, Sophia and Vince).

Second time, I choked on steak. We were eating in a fancy Downtown Pittsburgh restaurant. Like a pro...Kristine performed the Heimlich in a packed house restaurant full of folks looking on. (BTW, the restaurant did NOT comp our meal). Third time I choked on cheese. We were eating at my favorite pizza place. I choked on mozzarella.

The fourth, and latest, incident happened just a few weeks ago. Our family was on vacation in Cape May, NJ. I was eating lobster... sitting outside with Kristine and our three kids. I choked on a chunk of lobster. I stood up... pointed to my throat. Kristine jumped into action:

Kristine moved me out of the way of the crowd. She calmly wrapped her arms around my waist and performed the Heimlich. Some people might think it's bizarre, but after the piece of lobster popped out, we sat down and finished our meals. (FYI, I didn't finish the lobster!).

Our family was on vacation at the beach this summer when Kristine saved me with the Heimlich maneuver.

Here at Sparkt we love to make a difference each day. I like to reinforce that message with these columns. The take away here? Learn the Heimlich maneuver. It's simple. After the last incident we had a certified instructor (my sister Sandy, a nurse) stop by for a quick lesson. Sandy showed the kids what to do. She even showed me how to perform the Heimlich on myself. It's actually quite simple.

Look, bottom line. I gotta quit acting and eating like a cave man. No more steak. Very little chicken. Small bites of food. A lotta soft food.

I hope and pray what happened to me never happens to you...or someone you love. If it does. I just want you to be prepared. Kristine was, and I'm alive because of it.

She saved my life FOUR times. My Rainbow is also my Savior.

How can you start something good?

There are lots of ways to learn how to administer the Heimlich maneuver:

UPMC Pinnacle Health has this step by step instruction. Here's a video demonstration from the Mayo Clinic. There are lots of other versions on line. Just plug "Heimlich maneuver" into your favorite search engine.

Even better, the Red Cross offers Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation classes (you might also need that skill to help someone who is choking) where you'll learn how to do the Heimlich. Click here to find a class where you live.

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