Treat Yo’ Self!

Drawing of a human body by a preschooler
Death was approaching over my left shoulder. I could sense it. And yet I was surprisingly calm. It felt surreal. The bit of chicken lodged itself in my esophagus and now I could not breathe. I was going to die in this very hotel room. Tonight. I knew it with a certainty that rivaled the certainty of taxes. It was my time.

Choked to death on Thai chicken curry.

People would judge, wouldn’t they?

Except that I really could breathe. It just felt like I couldn’t. I was not going to die after all unless it was from embarrassment. I imagined the humiliation of that ER trip.

I could not swallow that damn piece of meat down no matter how hard I tried. I could not cough, hork, or vomit it up. I made the most awful gagging, retching noises. I wondered what people passing in the hallway were thinking. 

Fortunately, I was not alone. I rasped the word, “Heimlich!” and motioned at my throat. He complied and in short order the offending bit of Thai chicken curry sailed across the room, bouncing off of a panel of neutral colored drapery, leaving a mark for the next guests to wonder about. 

Sorry about that, housekeeping staff….

From then on, I chewed and chewed and chewed everything, figuring that this happened only because I was a glutton, stuffing my face too fast. I was ashamed. I told no one. 

There were several close calls after.

Fast forward a few months.

Standing at the counter typing clinic notes I felt the wave of nausea hit me again. It had been building for weeks, getting worse every day. Always in the mid morning. But why? Why was this nausea happening? It was not pregnancy, not unless God felt the immaculate conception needed a do-over and since I was no Virgin Mary I figured that was highly doubtful. I draped myself over the counter, holding my head in my hands and closed my eyes until the wave passed. Wow, did my epigastric feel…. odd. What was that sensation? Pain?


And just like that, it all dawned on me. 

Acid reflux. A terrible case of GERD. Esophageal structure. Dysphagia. Time to crack out that acid blocker and go see a GI specialist. 

So whenever people say, “You’re so lucky. You can just call stuff in for yourself. You don’t need a doctor!” I roll my eyes. I have no business treating myself or anyone else that I love because you know what? I’m crap at it. When it comes to myself and my family I am just too close to the subject matter to see straight. My family doesn’t even appreciate how dangerous that can be. Instead they get all offended when I refuse to weigh in or offer to take over their medical care.

The physician who treats himself has a fool for a patient.” William Osler


Remember that next time you hear about a doctor treating themself or their spouse or their kids except in the direst of circumstances….


98 thoughts on “Treat Yo’ Self!

  1. Wonderful post. I have a bit of reflux problem, and I’ve had to perform the Heimlich on someone. (That’s kind of nerve wracking too.) I’ve heard you can do it on yourself, but you need a chair. (Probably one without wheels.)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I hear ya’. I’m an Occupationsl Therapist, but when we discovered we had an autistic son, I had to have another OT treat him. I had good training with developmental delay, etc, so technically I should’ve been able to do the to plan and execute it. But, as his dad, I was too close to the situation to be objective. I’m sure it’s very much the same for y’all.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. My cousin who’s a doctor was recently telling me about the moment my grandmother passed away. The paramedics came to the house, recognized my cousin, asked her if she wanted to help in the resuscitation, but my cousin said she turned it all over to them. She was too close to my grandmother to bring herself to do it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve had similar experiences recently 😦 I mistook acid reflux for a heart attack after reading one too many of those articles that make the rounds of Facebook, saying “women’s heart attack symptoms are different from men’s!” and “5 signs of a heart attack in women” and “if something doesn’t feel right, go to the ER!” That’s good advice, because it’s true, but I wish I had known as much about acid reflux as I did about heart attacks!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I know what GERD is. When a biopsy said it had graduated
    to Barrett’s, I upped the proton
    The Barrett’s went away, the
    GERD remains.
    Heimlich? Yikes scary stuff, never tried it on anyone.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Scary stuff. A neighbor across the hall from my apartment banged on my door and pointed to her back. I pounded to no avail and yelled HELP at the top of my lungs. Another neighbor heard me and came to the rescue. She administered the Heimlich and out came the large vitamin pill stuck in my neighbor’s throat.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. And a school counselor or teacher should never even try to teach his children. Mainly because he has to put up with a wife saying, “You’re so bloody good with other people’s children how come you stuffed up your own children’s lives?”
    Anyway I didn’t and they turned out alright.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I can see the value in having some else be your medical provider…. but at least you know if they are feeding you BS. Glad you are ok. MY hubby’s family has this issue they get food caught. His father used to get really sick from it. It is pretty scary when is happens.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I can understand a doctor not treating family – difficult to be rational and objective and your quote was similar to another “A Lawyer who defends himself in court has a fool for a client”

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Great post and gee your writing is excellent. Over a period of years I had the unfortunate experience of having a patient choke. I’m a light weight and both of the each one were tall and well over 200 pounds. Nursing assistants did the Heimlich and both patients survived. It was frightening.

    I think GERD most be more common than we realize. I went through three different meds before my MD prescribed Nexium. Eating too much sugar, acidic foods, spicy foods, or too much coffee will cause my GERD to act up. About 12 years ago I thought I was having a heart attack but I figured it was an esophageal problem. I drank lots of water. Then put a teaspoon of baking soda in more water and the pain finally eased. The pain is excruciating and that was before I was taking Nexium.

    About medical professionals treating themselves or their family. I think one should definitely not self treat or medicate. You are very wise Dr Delore. I just wish you were my MD. You are very smart and I’m not trying to stroke your feathers. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Wow…scary stuff choking! I did the Heimlich once on my dog. Never on a human. My dog pawed at my leg and looked scared. I guessed there was something stuck in his throat. Yep, a minute of Heimlich and a piece of his rubber toy flew out of his mouth. Glad I was there! As much as I can, I tell family members to call their docs. I do have to weigh in on the severity of the problem first, just because they expect Mom, the NP, to do that. 🎼 Christine

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I have a friend who is a doctor and people she knows always call and ask her advice (and then they don’t take it most of the time…). The only thing I have ever asked her is to recommend a specialist. It’s too fraught in a close relationship.
    I imagine it’s also hard to hold your tongue when you see someone not taking care of themselves in the way that they should. Should you say something or not? I would not like to be in that position.
    That’s a great drawing by the way…(K)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! My son is an artist at heart. I love when people ask me to recommend a specialist. That is a nice way to show they value my opinion without putting me on the spot. But, yes, holding my tongue can be a challenge at times, too. 🙂


  13. Ugh! Acid reflux is the worst. Knock on wood mine hasn’t been bad for awhile, I still carry Alka Seltzer in my purse . Just in case…. i hope all is well and you didn’t have to suffer through an upper gi , those are no fun.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. This reminds me of when I was at work ages ago eating an apple so fast, a chunk fell back to my throat. I panicked because I couldn’t swallow it and I though how embarrassing if I died in front of my co-workers. I didn’t want to say anything because I was too embarrassed. Eventually, I was able to swallow, scratching my throat and tears flowing down my face.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I haven’t ever choked on food – scary. But I can do a Heimlich maneuver… Sorry about the acid reflux. My friend, a GP, completely missed that her husband had pernicious anemia and wasn’t just a lazy so and so. 😸

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I’d always heard that phrase in reference to defending yourself in a court of law, but never thought of it for doctors! Makes sense though…you want someone who can be impartial and unbiased, and it’s impossible to be that way with yourself or people too close to you. You are a wise woman.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Acid reflux is manageable. I agree doctors should not treat themselves, their selves, nor their pets! But it is sure nice to have a doctor, who knows other doctors and what’s what, when something goes wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Pingback: Writing 5/22/17 – Where Genres Collide

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