How I got a second chance at life

Opinion: Columns

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By Monica Madan

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On Feb. 21, my friend Pat Johnson and I went to Dinico's pizza for lunch. We got our orders and sat down to eat. We were two great friends, talking, laughing, catching up, when I took my first bite of the pizza. 

Normally pizza with all the sauce would go down pretty easy in most throats — not this one. This bite of all cheese was stuck right in the middle of my throat, cutting off the air I needed to breathe! I got on my feet and my friend started to do the Heimlich maneuver without hesitancy. No dice. The cheese in my throat was getting stuck deeper and would not budge. She tried again and still nothing came out. I tried coughing it out, looked for something to thrust myself on to dislodge this monstrous cheese. There was nothing. I tried drinking water only to have to spit it out. 

It was not looking good. 

Well, it wasn't long before the restaurant manager/owner came over and started the Heimlich maneuver too. He also tried a few times and it was not working. It was becoming more difficult to see a happy ending. They say your life passes before your eyes in life or death situations like these. My thoughts: Who will care for my special needs son? How will my significant other feel not being able to reach me in time to help or say goodbye? Call 911. How will my kids divide up my insurance money? (LOL) 

I heard the owner call 911. My thought was, "They won't make it in time." But I wasn't ready to give up — not to some stinking piece of cheese! If I was going out it would be on a more grand scale. I knew we had to try something that worked. With his last thrust I bent forward from the waist down and let all that air just push that rotten cheese out. 

Once again I could breathe. Now I know this was not a light matter, and I'm sure both my friend and the owner were scared to some degree. But their heroic actions and quick responses saved my life. I have nothing but admiration, respect, and appreciation for them. You not only saved my life but the drama that would go along with splitting my tiny inheritance. :)

So what did I learn from this experience? Take baby bites. Chew it 100 times before swallowing (I promised this to my S.O.). Make sure it's not all cheese. And make sure your inheritance is divided up in your will. 

It may seem like I'm not very serious about this, but everyone in my life knows I don't stress too much over many things and that I see things with a positive twist most of the time. I live by "It is what it is. Accept." 

But I am so very thankful to my two friends for a second chance at being a mom, lover, friend, daughter, acquaintance, and most of all, alive!

Monica Madan has been an "Oak Parkian" for 34 years. 

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