Yes, you can choke on coffee! 12



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We had just moved into a little farmhouse about six kilometres from Maleny and had been there about two weeks. The farmhouse had been owned by an elderly couple who had let the pot plants grow through all their pots and the front yard had become a jungle between the house and the street, so much so that you could not see the house from the street. We had purchased 100 acres of land and figured we were going to enjoy living with the beautiful scenery and lovely rolling hills.

It was early one evening that my husband had made himself a cup of coffee and he walked over to the table to sit down, taking his first gulp. It must have been a big gulp because next minute he was racing over to the sink appearing to choke on his mouthful. He took another sip while at the sink thinking it would help.  Suddenly he collapsed backwards on the hard floor and was gasping for air. 

Now my husband is a really big man and falling down so hard was not going to do much for his health at his age. I raced over to him and could see he was having trouble getting his breath and was going blue. I rolled him on his side and tried to clear his airway with my finger. He ended up vomiting up a little but was still gasping for breath making a horrific noise.

Now I am not very good in emergency and my first instinct was to ask him if he wanted me to call an ambulance. It was probably not the right thing  to ask him as he was busy, but I got little response to my question so I ended up making the decision to call the ambulance.Don’t know why I was so hesitant to call an ambulance, but in this case it was the right decision. They told me to make him comfortable and turn on a light out the front of the house so the ambulance could see us.  

I started to panic, grabbing a pillow and placing it (he will tell you I threw it) under his head. I turned on the outside light and raced outside realising that any light would not be visible to the street. As we lived 6km from the nearest town and a long way from Nambour Hospital, I thought it would be ages before they would come. I ran back inside and started to look for my Medicare and MBF card…I think I even asked him where it might be. I really don’t know why… he was so very busy going blue and still making horrible noises. 

It was really only about four minutes and I could hear the ambulance siren. I raced out to the gate and flagged them down. Stephen was still on the floor gasping when we got inside and the ambulance driver asked what had happened. My husband had come down so hard on the concrete base floor that he broke his tail bone and it had thrown his head back. Consequently he had hurt his jaw and taken some skin off the top of his head. It actually looked as though I had hit him over the head with something. 10 minutes later we had another ambulance from Beerwah with two ambulance drivers.

The three ambulance drivers worked on my husband for 45 minutes and then took him off to hospital. It was only then that I was told there was a small hospital in Maleny and that was where they were going. I followed the ambulance into town and my husband was admitted so he could see the doctor. 

Thank heavens they found fluid in his lungs…I was really worried they might have thought I had hit him. I had been getting some really strange looks up until that discovery. The doctor said that when people fall backwards so badly they can even break their jaw. My husband stayed in hospital overnight and was alright to return home the next day. So it just goes to show you can choke on coffee….thank you Queensland Ambulance. The jungle at the front of the house was cleared the very next week so the house could be found from the street.

Tell us, have you had to save a life or assist in an emergency before? 

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Gill Johnston

  1. As the sun rose on a beautiful November morning,nothing could prepare us for what happened later on that day. My hubby went to work as usual and l spent the day gardening . When hubby arrived home that afternoon he went straight to the garage to put the finishing touches to the gate for our picket fence which he had promised me when we first started dating some 30 plus years earlier. I came in from the garden cleaned up and proceeded to cook a chicken and spinach pie. November in our area brings with it late afternoon storms, and today was no different and before long hubby and l were separated by a wall of torrential rain. I had no reason to worry , hubby was safe in the garage or so l thought. However at 6.30 pm hubby made his way into the house , he was slightly wetter that l thought he should be and his face was a light grey colour. “I think l have had a turn he stated l can’t see all of your face.” Warning bells started ringing as l ran to the bedroom grabbing some dry clothes and a towel via the bathroom. In the blink of an eye hubby was changed and l was backing out of our driveway. As the skys began to open up for the second time that night. We live out of town at Empire Vale, a small cain growing area of Northern NSW, our nearest hospital is at Ballina 15 min away. As l drove along River Drive my heart beat faster with every second that passed. Hubby was now experiencing severe head pain . As l drove the car onto the ferry my fears grew, and lam sure the trip was slower than ever before. By now hubby was distressed and after two unscheduled stops due to the severity of the storm, we arrived at Ballina Hospitial. Thankfully he was seen straight away as doctors tried to establish what had occured. It was one of the longest nights of my life, during which blood tests were taken , observations carried out and a major Brisbane hosp contacted. At 1.30 am on the 27 th of November hubby was prepared for transfer to Lismore Base by a paramedic ambulance. It would be at 3.30 pm that afternoon that we were to find hubby had a giant aneurysm on the right side of his head. Doctors and nurses alike were stunned at the severity of the rupture and even more stunned that hubby was wide awake and conscious the entire time of his ordeal. Arrangements were made to airlift hubby to The Princess Alexander Hospitial in Brisbane . but once again we were waiting for another storm to ebate. The first flight cancelled we prepared for a long and difficult wait , morning could not come quick enough. However come it did as l was asked to come to the hospital and see my hubby, you see he wasn’t expected to make the Westpac rescue chopper flight to Brisbane. Reality that he was standing at deaths door kicked in when l was told l would be unable to travel with him. I had managed to get him to hospital in a severe storm, sat by his bed in Ballina, followed his ambulance to Lismore, accompanied him to St Vincents for his MRI and held his hand as the results of the MRI were delivered by a more than perplexed neuro surgeon. Now l sat alone. In the days that followed hubby was stabilized and an operation to repair the now 25 ml aneurysm was performed. In just 17 short days we were heading home, the drama of our lifesaving jaunt a distant but painful memory had been replaced with feelings of excilleration as the realization became clear that my hubby father of our thrre children and beautiful granddaughter had cheated death and his 1/4 chance of survival. Hubby has often talked of me being the one responsible for saving his life that night , commenting that had he been in Sydney he would have just gone to bed. His fly in fly out work contract on The Warragamba dam had ceased just one month and 6 days earlier , after he had resigned due to my health.

  2. Glad he’s ok my lovely mother in law lifted a car off my father in law after it slipped off the ramps she was very bruised but both were ok thank god

  3. I drank some coca cola and the bubbles got caught in my throat I couldn’t get my breath I was panicked,I put my fingers down my throat and it released the bubbles that had trapped in my throat and thank goodness all was okay.

  4. Every one should learn first aid you don’t know when you will need it to save a loved ones live I have had to use it twice

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