Omaha Man Breathes Easy After Taking a Knife to His Throat

In 2008, Steve Wilder did something you almost never hear of in a good way: He took a knife to his own throat. The 55-year-old truck driver awoke and found himself unable to breathe. Afraid that a rescue squad wouldn’t get to him in time, Wilder ran into his kitchen, grabbed a steak knife, and made a slit in his throat so his windpipe could get air, unobstructed. This was the second DIY tracheotomy he had performed on himself. Under similar circumstances two years earlier, he had done the same thing. The problem began after Wilder had throat cancer and underwent radiation therapy, which actually cooked his muscles. Wilder’s doctor said that he had more inflammation from the radiation treatments than was normal and that it had not gone away completely. Wilder may have had an easier time with a self-tracheotomy than the average person because his thyroid was already out of the way from previous tracheotomies. In addition, because of the radiation treatments, there was nothing but skin and some subcutaneous tissue to cut through to get to the trachea. He also had a scar from previous tracheotomies as a guide. Since that time, Wilder has been fitted with a permanent tube in his throat to help him breathe and prevent having to perform future DIY surgeries.