The STEAK OUT

What you are about to read is true…sadly. I haven’t bothered to change the name to protect the identity of the subject…because I wouldn’t be able to fool anyone. I’ll just get it out of the way now: I’m a dork.

And apparently, I don’t chew my food thoroughly enough.

Here is the actual timeline of the STEAK-OUT of Thursday, April 16, 2009:

7:30pm: Clay sits down at the dinner table to enjoy a yummy dinner prepared by his lovely wife Gail. Clay, Gail, and sons Sean and Jacob and daughter Kayla say grace before starting.

7:31pm: Clay hurriedly places a rather large piece of steak into his mouth.

7:31pm: Clay feels that the steak isn’t moving down his throat properly. So he takes a second bite of dinner, this time a spoonful of rice and corn.

7:32pm: Still not feeling well, Clay takes his first sip of Pepsi to try and wash down the food.

7:32pm: Clay starts gagging. As he makes his way to the kitchen sink, he says “I’m not feeling so good” in between gags.

7:33pm: Unbeknownst to Clay, Gail sneaks up behind him and performs the quickest and strongest Heimlich Maneuver in Imoo-Limtong history, sending projectiles from Clay’s mouth flying into the sink.

7:33pm: Clay thanks Gail but still feels something lodged in his throat.

7:34pm: Gail applies repeated Heimlichs in an attempt to dislodge the steak but to no avail.

7:35pm: “I’m scared,” Clay remarks in the under-statement of the year.

7:37pm: Clay tries to eat and drink a bit more to try and move the food down. Everytime he tries to eat or drink, he throws up instantaneously.

7:38pm: Scared by the sound of Dad’s gagging and throwing up, Sean and Jake run into the living room so they don’t have to hear nor see Dad. Sean starts to pound away on the piano to drum out the noise. He belts out a stirring rendition of Matt Maher’s “Your Grace is Enough.”

7:38pm: After seeing her brothers leave the room, Kayla comes up to Clay and hugs his leg.

7:45pm: Gail calls Dorothy for advice…but can’t get through.

7:46pm: Gail calls Richard and Zinha…they suggested leaning over some furniture and thrusting against it to dislodge the steak.

7:50pm: After the furniture-ramming technique proves fruitless, Gail resorts to karate chopping Clay between his shoulder blades as hard as she can. Clay quietly wonders if she’s taking advantage of the situation to get some free shots in.

7:55pm: Clay starts to drool profusely as he’s unable to swallow any of his saliva.

7:55pm – 8:40pm: Clay stays at sink, alternating between gagging, throwing up, drinking and spitting.

8:40pm: Gail calls a Community Nurse: she tells Gail to take Clay to the hospital. Gail tells the boys to get changed into their pajamas.

8:45pm: Gail calls Clay’s mom Joyce and asks her to come over to watch the kids. Like any good Mom, Joyce is extremely worried.

8:47pm: Sean comes back into the kitchen for the first time in an hour and tells Clay that he was praying for him up in his room.

8:52pm: Clay has Gail call Barb from the Archdiocese to advise her that he won’t be able to attend the scheduled 7:30am breakfast meeting the next day.

8:55pm: Clay’s mom arrives; Gail and Clay leave for Richmond General Hospital.

9:30pm: Admitting Nurse checks Clay in and offers her two bits: “Didn’t your mom tell you to chew your food 20 times before swallowing?” Clay would go on to hear similar advice throughout the evening. Clay manages a sheepish smile.

10:03pm: Clay and Gail are escorted to an examination room.

10:50pm: A doctor examines Clay and determines that his esophagus is completely blocked. He says he will call a GI (Gastro-Intestinal) Specialist for a recommendation. The 2 choices are: do nothing (and hope the food will pass on its own) or to remove the food via a stomach scope. Clay’s not thrilled with either of the 2 options.

10:59pm: The doctor returns with the verdict: we’re doing the scope. He leads Clay and Gail to yet another room where they will do the procedure.

11:05pm: Nurse Mary preps an IV and ends up putting holes in both of Clay’s hands. “You have tough skin” she replies.

11:22pm: Clay posts a message on Twitter and Facebook saying “At Richmond General Hospital on an IV waiting for a scope to remove a piece of steak from my esophagus. Crazy…I wish I was joking.”

11:25pm: Clay hears the nurses prepping the supplies for the scope. One asks, “What do we have tonight.” Another answers, “We’re getting a steak out of some guy’s throat.” Clay knows he’s found the title for his inevitable blog.

11:30pm: The GI Specialist explains the procedure to Gail and Clay and has Clay sign a release. That wasn’t that comforting. Gail leaves soon afterwards, promising to come back after the procedure.

11:42pm: Dorothy texts Clay’s cell phone saying “Must’ve been a big piece of steak!” Clay goes on to receive quite a few messages like this throughout the night, along with prayers and suggestions to switch to beef sashimi (thanks Warren).

11:49pm: The nurses wheel in the scope: it looks long and thick. Comes on a cart with a really nice flat-screen LCD.

11:55pm: A nurse hooks up an oxygen apparatus to Clay’s nose and then something in his mouth to keep it open for the scope. He sprays Lydacane into Clay’s mouth to supposedly “numb his throat.” He then turns Clay to lean on his left side so his back is towards the screen. Probably a good thing.

11:56pm: The nurse gives Clay drugs to sedate him as the GI Specialist prepares the scope. Clay says a quick prayer.

11:57pm: Clay endures the most excruciating 20 seconds of his life as the doctor steered the scope into Clay’s mouth and down his throat in an attempt to push the food down into his stomach. Clay has enough time to flail his arms and scream, all the while wishing he was numbed and more sedated.

1:59am (Friday): Clay awakes to see Gail and a nurse at his bedside. “Everything is fine” says the nurse.

2:15am: Gail and Clay make their way to the van to go home.

2:19am: Clay posts a message on Twitter and Facebook saying “Heading home from hospital. Procedure was a success, praise God. This was certainly a wake-up call for me though: time to slow down a bit.”

2:28am: Gail and Clay arrive home to find Mom up waiting for us and all 3 kids laid out in a triangular formation on our bed.

2:35am: Mom kisses Clay good night and heads home. Clay promises Mom that he’ll be more careful during meals and that he’ll slow down and chew his food more thoroughly.

3:00am: Clay says a prayer of thanksgiving and falls asleep, ending the STEAK-OUT.