Tuesday, June 10, 2014


   Seeing the words “Laryngeal spasm” in a newspaper headline was so exciting!   I’ve never found any useful advice on the Internet about those seizures where the throat abruptly shuts up tight.  Every scientific paper I found mentions the word “terrifying” – which is pretty accurate.  When I get one, there’s nothing to do but try to relax, which is impossible, sit or lie down in case I’m going to pass out, and wait a minute or two.  You’ll be happy to learn that so far I haven’t had a fatal one.
The newspaper’s medical column is carried Mondays on the comics page (not really a good location), written by a Dr. Roach (not really a fortuitous patronymic.)  But the question sent in by a reader looked useful – this guy started having them in his 30s, just as I did.  And the only comment he got from his doctor was “My mother gets them too.”
     Wait a minute!  Is that a standard line they teach in med school?  Because that’s what my doctor said, so many years ago.  At which point I looked at the signature – the letter came from E. L.  Oh well, I must have written to Dr. Roach, and maybe not so long ago.  For once I’m on the other end of a q&a column!  
     So what useful information did I get from the good doctor, whose email  address, which I must have used, is at Cornell University?  He says he can reassure me “that people seldom die or even lose consciousness from this.”  Do you think it’s being picky to find the word “seldom” less than reassuring?   He goes on to say that if it happens while I’m driving, his advice is to “pull over the car safely” – duh!  That’s why I already try to stay in the right-hand lane.  And, he suggests, I should then “pant”.  Last year an EMT specialist advise me to “whistle in.”   
     Both fairly difficult when one can’t breathe at all. 
     There seems to be a singing group called The Laryngospasms and here’s their melodious youtube number called "Breathe" -- it's a slightly different situation – but yes -- it includes the words “think you’re going to die.”

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