Monday, September 04, 2006

Aging 20 years in 10 seconds

Choking is the 4th leading cause of accidental death in children under the age of five. Studies indicate that HOT DOGS are the #1 food killer. At least one child dies from choking on food every 5 days in the United States and more than 10,000 children are taken to hospital emergency rooms each year for food-choking injuries.

I almost lost Unruly this weekend. Not like lost her in Wal-Mart or in the woods, but lost her, permanently, as in dead.

It was the most terrifying, horrific, awful 10 seconds of my life and 10 seconds I will never, ever forget, no matter how many years go by. I feel about 20 years older and five shades grayer. I will never forget the helpless terrified look in my five-year-olds eyes when she realized the chunk of hotdog she had tried to swallow was lodged tight in her throat. Not. Moving. Not going down. Stuck there. A little throat-sized piece of processed death meat.

She couldn't breathe, I could see her starting to panic. And I couldn't breathe and I started to panic with her and I yelled at her to COUGH DAMMIT! COUGH IT UP! I cried, those hysterical what-the-fuck-do-I-do tears, knowing enough not to hit her on the back, but not quite remembering if I knew how to do the Heimlich on her. Do I put my fist under her sternum, or on top of it? Was on top of it for CPR or the Heimlich? How hard do I thrust up? What if I can't get it out? Should I reach down her throat? What if I have to do a tracheotomy? I don't know how. My God, my daughter is choking to death in front of me and I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO FUCKING DO! '

Finally, after what seemed liked hours, rather than a few seconds, she pulled a breath in, I heard the life-sustaining air squeak by the stuck hot dog piece, and thank God she got enough into her lungs and coughed and puked all at the same time and brought the damn thing up.

I cried and I shook and I felt the adrenalin explode throughout my body and my knees go watery and weak and I lost it. I sobbed and cried and imagined all kinds of horrible, horrible things and I told her how badly she scared me and she apologized and said she would never try to swallow a piece of hotdog without chewing it again. She apologized. She said she was sorry for scaring me so bad.

My wonderful child was more worried about her sobbing mom than herself, as always.

Apparently, she saw me swallow an Aleve without chewing and decided that if I can swallow things without chewing, then so can she. Oh, the things we don't think they see, the things we give no thought to because they are so every day and common to us, but so novel and new to our babies they have no idea about choking or drowning or burning or dying.

I don't think she'll try it again. She promised she wouldn't. God, I hope she never tries it again, my heart couldn't take it.


Anonymous said...

SO glad that turned out other than the way it could have...

Anonymous said...

That was "me"...I forgot to say before...

Jenn said...

Well, Hi there! Good to see ya 'round these parts.