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Posted in CPR News
Saturday September 14, 2013

Below is a funny story I found on line that I thought I would share with everyone. The CPR performed in the story is the old method, but I thought you would appreciate the humor.


I have a date this Saturday, a date with Annie. This is unusual for two reasons: First, my date with Annie is 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning, a time of the day when I am more likely to be found unconscious in my bed than out on a date. Second, I am married, which usually precludes a person from dating. Incredibly, it was my wife who insisted I go on this date. I had not seen Annie in years and was really not looking forward to our reunion. The reason for my reluctance: Seeing Annie again meant I would have to spend most of my Saturday learning CPR.

Tony, our CPR instructor, began his introduction by commending us for enrolling in a CPR course, and for taking our responsibility to be good citizens seriously. While that may have been true for everyone else in the class, it wasn't true for me. Remember, I was learning CPR because my wife made me. The reason for her sudden interest in my education: My mother-in-law was coming to live with us. My hypertensive, slightly overweight, could keel over at any moment, mother-in-law.

Our class began with Tony showing us a short film on CPR. Once the film ended, we sat in a circle on the floor, prepared to begin the manikin training -finally the fun part. At least last time it was fun. But then again, last time it was me, several of my college buddies, and a rather well endowed plastic doll. Perhaps it was the muffled laugh I let out while reminiscing, or maybe I was smiling just a bit too much, whichever it was, Tony was not happy with me. Tony informed the group, while starring straight at me,"Annie is a CPR manikin and not some sort of toy." He warned us air was the only thing allowed out of our mouth and into Annie's mouth, nothing else. We were not to practice any new stuff on Annie. The rest of the class found this amusing -I didn't. Not wanting Tony to be one up on me, I told him I would try my best not to take advantage of Annie, but who could resist those big, fake, plastic...

Tony ignored my disparaging remarks about Annie and continued to teach us CPR, discussing the proper way to listen for breath sounds, and how to determine if someone has circulation. He also informed us, since we were not going to be involved with patients as non-professional rescuers, we would not need to learn how to take a pulse, nor would there be a written exam. "And yes, this course is thirty dollars cheaper" Tony added, before anyone had a chance to ask, all the while starring straight at me as he said it. Since I did not care much for taking tests, nor was I allowed to place my hands on my mother-in-law's neck -even under the supposition of helping her -I gladly handed over forty dollars to Tony to cover the cost of the course; and then I put the extra thirty dollars my wife had given me back in my pocket. So far, this was turning out to be a pretty good Saturday.

The manikin training part of the class began with each of us taking turns nudging Annie who was lying on the floor. As I poked at Annie, I imagined it was someone who I cared about lying there, just as Tony had told us to do.

"Paris, wake up" I yelled... "Halle, are you OK?" My mother-in-law's name never even entered my head.

Three hours later, I had learned the ABC's of CPR and was ready to receive my lay rescuer CPR card. Before dismissing the class, Tony asked if any of us had any questions. I did have one question for Tony and was anxious to ask it for two reasons: First, this was the one component of CPR that could actually benefit me and second, I did not think Tony really had an answer to my question, which would allow me to get even for the "not practice any new stuff on my manikin," remark.

"What do you do if you are alone and choking?" I asked. Tony paused for a moment to think before answering... now I had him. Tony informed us, if alone, it is recommended the choking person use an object, like a chair, to provide the upward push a rescuer would normally provide if doing the Heimlich on another individual.

"What if there is not an object suitable for this task present?" I quickly asked Tony, again trying my best to stump him. Tony, apparently tired of my questions informed me if I went for more than three minutes without oxygen, I would see a bright white light and I should walk towards it. He added, in my case, it might be a bunch of little people with horns, long pointy tails, and pitchforks. Either way, I would not have to worry about the Heimlich maneuver any longer. Convinced my association with Tony was now over, I picked up my CPR card, my pocket mask, and left.

* * * * * Thanksgiving was at my house this past year; too bad for me. This particular Thanksgiving began in the same fashion as every other holiday involving my family began: with my wife and I betting to see who was going to ruin the day. As usual, my money was on my mother-in-law. The first hint of who was going spoil the festivities came when Aunt Rita began running around the dining room, flapping her arms up and down like a bird. The rest of the family, not knowing what to make of her bizarre behavior, remained motionless, all trying their best to stay out of her flight path and avoid her flailing limbs. Why, exactly, she was acting so strangely was unclear, given that it was too early in the evening for charades, and most of the wine was still in the bottles. It became a lot clearer once Uncle John spoke up:

"She's choking. I think she has a piece of turkey stuck in her throat." The flapping continued for about thirty more seconds and then, Aunt Rita collapsed to the floor. Everyone starred, as Aunt Rita remained motionless on the floor, speechless -a first for my family. My mother broke the silence by confirming she had seen Aunt Rita eat a piece of turkey before she had her "fit." The dry, over-cooked, tasteless turkey she added. The turkey my wife spent all day preparing. Immediately, I jumped into action. The first step was to determine if this was an actual emergency, or if Aunt Rita was just trying to get some attention. Since nobody seemed to care for her sweet potato and marshmallow casserole, getting attention was a strong possibility. I poked and screamed at Aunt Rita as Tony had taught us. Some of relatives in the room, not knowing this was the proper way to determine if a situation was an emergency or not, thought I was just getting even with her for ruining the party. A few thought it was for all those years of Aunt Rita telling my wife how lousy her meatloaf was. Regardless, she did not move. I knew this meant it was an actual emergency. The first thing I was supposed to do was to check her airway. I tilted her head back, which easily opened the airway -so far, so good. The next thing I needed to do was to check to see if she was breathing. I was supposed to look, listen and feel for breaths...but who could hear anything over the sounds of all the aunts and uncles in the room screaming instructions on what to do next. After several seconds, even with all the screaming, I determined poor Aunt Rita was definitely not breathing. The next step was to give her two breaths. This was my worst nightmare come true. I always feared something like this would happen to me as a child. I don't know if it had to do with the whole Oedipus thing, or if it was Aunt Rita's rather thick mustache, either way, this was not going to be easy. As I prepared to give her the two required breaths, I remembered Tony telling us we should use a pocket mask when performing CPR. The pocket mask he had given to us when we completed the course; the pocket mask that would allow me not to put my mouth directly on Aunt Rita's mouth; the pocket mask I could not locate. As I leaned over Aunt Rita, I also remembered Tony telling us if the rescuer was not going to breathe for the victim, the rescue would fail. I had contemplated this for a moment as I starred at my aunt's mustache, but with all the witnesses standing around I knew it was hopeless. I pinched Aunt Rita's nose, placed my mouth on her mouth, and gave her two, slow, exhaled breaths. Thankfully, the breaths went in. This was the most important step of CPR since air entering her lungs verified Aunt Rita was not choking on a piece of turkey. The next step was to check for circulation. With the entire family around me, I put my hand on my aunt's neck. I had no clue how to check for a neck pulse since my course did not include this skill, but I wasn't about to admit it to anyone in that room. After about ten seconds of squeezing my aunt's neck, I checked for signs of circulation the way I had been taught, the thirty dollar less way. Since the color in Aunt Rita's face was a beautiful shade of blue, a shade only slightly different than the color of her hair, it was clear she had no circulation. The next step was to open her blouse and look for the nipple line. Tony had made it a point of telling us, especially me, we did not need to remove the women's bra to find the nipple line. Believe me; it was not going to be a problem today. The reason we were looking for the nipple line was so we could find the anatomical landmarks necessary to perform the chest compressions correctly. I quickly learned something new about anatomical landmarks as I searched for them on my aunt: It is very difficult to find a nipple line when your eyes are closed, trying desperately not to see your mother's sister half naked. The uncles in the room, to the contrary, did not seem to have a problem with this. Several even offered to assist me with her bra if I needed help. The women, on the other hand, thought Aunt Rita hadn't looked this good in years. After making my way through the box and a half of tissues that were stored in her bra, I was able to locate the nipple line and could proceed with the necessary chest compressions. Thirty compressions followed by two breaths, this was to be done two times, which would make a minute of CPR. After a minute of CPR, the blue color in Aunt Rita's face was replaced with the familiar pink color living people have. To everyone's amazement, Aunt Rita was back among us. Having re-checked her for breathing and circulation, and convinced both were present, I placed her on her side in the recovery position. As she lay there, in a semi-conscious state, I told her to try and remain still and not to worry. This was my mother's sister I had just saved, the same aunt who told me I would never amount to anything. As I held her head in my arms, the sound of the siren could be heard as the ambulance approached the house. As everyone else ran to the window to see the approaching ambulance, I leaned over my Aunt Rita and whispered ever so softly,

"The ambulance is here and everything is going to be fine. I took care of you...remember me in the will." I cannot wait for our Christmas gathering.