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Close Call

This is kind of a difficult post, especially given the fact that so many things are happening all at the same time (from massive home repairs and covid, to schools trying to restart and double hurricanes).

That said, I feel compelled to post this, because we were completely blindsided and I feel like just a few moments of prep would have made this much less of a close call…

Our oldest went back to college this past Tuesday. I picked up some steaks to prepare one of her favorite meals the day before. That night we all sat down for our last full family dinner for a while. The Muppets were on TV in the background. At some point we realized that Little Man had gone silent… and any of you who know or know of Little Man will realize that this is a rare event. When I looked over at him, he did not seem panicked or struggling. He looked confused, and … something was off.

He was choking and we did not even realize it right away. His dad, who was sitting right next to him, jumped up and grabbed him from his seat to do the Heimlich maneuver. The steak was lodged pretty tightly, and my husband later told me that he had been afraid he was going to have to make an incision… It was terrifying.

The meat was well chewed, which means at least Little Man was listening when we told him to chew his food well. Unfortunately, in this case, it made it harder to get it out of his throat. When it finally did pop out, Little Man was sobbing and completely traumatized. We spent most of the rest of the evening calming him down and having a candid conversation about what to do in the future if it ever happens again. …a conversation I regret not having had with him (or my other two) BEFORE this happened.

We told him to bang on the table with both hands or anything else possible to get attention, and to point to his throat to indicate choking. We showed him how to do the Heimlich on himself using the back of a chair if nobody else is around. We tried to make up for not preparing him before, while scenarios of what could have happened played and replayed in our minds on a loop.

In my case, I feel like I had a false sense of security regarding the whole children choking scenario. It felt like after they got past the toddler years, it wasn’t really so much a “thing”. I had watched them like a hawk with food up to then. I have since read that choking is one of the leading causes of death in children in the US. One child chokes to death approximately every five days in this country. And, though a whopping 75% of them are under the age of three… 25% is still pretty significant, especially when it is your child.

Little Man is fine now… and more prepared should it happen in the future. I just wanted to put this out there because this could have gone a completely different direction… and because it might prompt someone else to have the conversation with their kids that I wish we’d had earlier with ours.

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