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By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN
Pauline Larwood still faces challenges eating but otherwise is doing well one month after doctors performed an emergency tracheotomy on her in a restaurant when she choked on a piece of steak.
Now she's sticking to fish for protein.
"I still have some lingering effects. I can't eat everything. I started out on just eating soup," Larwood said. "I'm kind of staying away from meat."
Larwood, 71, had trouble swallowing before the Sept. 22 incident, a lasting effect of a childhood bout with polio. She was dining with lawmakers and doctors at The Mark on the first day of a valley fever symposium when she choked on a bite of filet mignon.
Physicians, including local valley fever expert Dr. Royce Johnson, professor of medicine at UCLA and Kern Medical Center's chief of infectious diseases, rushed to her aid. They restored Larwood's breathing using a large folding pocket knife and a pen.
She spent just about one week in a hospital after the episode, while the rescue story went viral, making national and global news. Larwood's brother who lives in Washington state caught the story when he was driving and heard her name on the radio.
"I think (the attention) died down pretty fast," said Larwood, who was Kern County's first female supervisor.
"I had quite a few visitors while I was in the hospital. It was good to see them, it was good to see anybody, but particularly friends and neighbors."
The pain in her throat is gone, the scar from the incision is barely noticeable, but Larwood still has to eat with care. But she was able to eat sanddabs and mashed potatoes on a visit to Urrichio's Trattoria post choking incident.
"In terms of everyday living, everything is back to normal," she said.
-- Californian staff writer Rachel Cook