Years ago when my children were small, I had what I call a choking spell…while eating spaghetti. It was scary at the time, but by swallowing water, whatever it was cleared and I was okay. “Noodle” became our code, for whenever this happened. If they saw me stop eating, pause, and reach for something to drink, they would ask “Noodle?” and I would nod. They’d wait until I gave the okay, or get me more to drink if needed.
This was not really what you’d call a choking spell, because my airway was never blocked, and I could breathe fine. I swallow, and the food sticks in my esophagus, like the mechanism for moving the food into my stomach has stopped working at the back of my throat. If I drink enough, I can wash it down and continue eating. The sticking part is above the spot where I could choke so I’ve never been in any real danger.
But, just because I’m not gasping for breath does not mean it doesn’t scare me. At the very least, it’s an uncomfortable feeling. My neurologist doesn’t call this choking either; he says most MS patients with swallowing difficulties choke on fluids, not solids.
I have found that this happens more frequently when I am with other people, because I am talking and eating, and maybe not paying enough attention to chewing and swallowing. And maybe, when I’m really tired I need to be more careful.
Funny, after all these years, and many of those years where we’ve lived apart, my children are still quick to pick up on the signs and jump to my aid. What can I say, they’re great kids.