On Sunday afternoon Sarah and I had our first -- and what had better be our last -- ride in ambulance. Yeah. Good times. She choked on a piece of hard candy. She ate lunch, I opened the candy, and the next thing I knew she was leaning over the island making a weird noise. I ran over to Sarah and she was doubled over, gagging and saying,
Within seconds it was apparent that the candy was lodged deep in her throat and was not coming out. Cue complete and utter panic. She began coughing and drooling. I pounded her on the back and nothing. I yanked her off the stool and did the Heimlich. Nothing. Violet began to cry and wail. I told her to pray.
DEAR JESUS COME AND HELP MY SISTER RIGHT NOW! HELP US! HELP SARAH NOW!
My husband reached into her mouth and could feel the candy way back there. I know you're not supposed to do this. I know. So one part of my brain was screaming, "Stop!" But the other was screaming louder, "Get it out, get it out, sweet Jesus get it out!" We quickly realized nothing we were doing was helping and she was only gagging more. I grabbed the phone and dialed 911. This is the only thing I did right.
I remember the 911 operator telling me to calm down and me just rattling off my address and yelling, We need an ambulance! She's choking!
He told me to calm down a second (third?) time and I apologized, then repeated my address and told him again we needed an ambulance because my daughter was choking. He said they were dispatching one, as I was dragging Violet and John into the hallway so they weren't watching.
Hurry, she's choking on a piece of hard candy . . . no she hasn't lost consciousness . . . oh! She threw it all up!
And as the candy was bouncing across the floor Sarah stood up, shook her head and said,
I'm fine now.
And tried to walk away from my husband. Uhm, no.
They sent the ambulance anyway and took us to AI Children's Hospital. I cried and shook every time somebody asked me what had happened. Sarah joyfully recounted the story and opened her mouth to show them where the candy had been stuck. She also wanted them to look for blood, because there had been blood in the vomit and on my husbands hand when he tried to get the candy out. She kept telling everybody,
I am very brave. But I don't want anymore hard candy.
When we finally got to see the actual doctor she announced,
I choked. But I did not die. And I am very brave. I didn't die!
I must have looked like I was going to pass out, because after she repeated this multiple times, the doctor leaned over to Sarah and whispered,
Sarah, stop saying that. Look at your mommy and tell her 'I'm alright.'
My husband came and picked us up, and Violet and John were all curious about what had happened while we were in the hospital. John had been upset because Sarah got to ride in the ambulance and he didn't. So we asked Sarah to tell him about it. She sighed.
The ambulance was so boh-ohring.
My husband asked her what kind of stuff was inside.
Not eeven any cool stuff.
When they discharged us they gave us a paper telling us follow up instructions. This is what it said:
If the child is coughing and gagging, do nothing unless the child turns blue or loses consciousness. Then call 911 and prepare to perform back blows and the Heimlich maneuver until help arrives.
I had a nurse come back and discuss this with me. Eventually, after much questioning on my part, she confirmed my suspicions. I had done everything wrong.
Back blows and the Heimlich would only work if the airway was completely blocked, because you need the air pressure to pop the obstruction out. And obviously, never ever put your fingers in their mouth because you could push the item further down and the hospital/EMT's have super long tweezer like tools to pull the item out.
Oh My God.
I've had CPR classes. I forgot every.single.thing.
So we are sighing up for one ASAP.
The level of panic was .. . breath taking. And for Sarah it was an adventure. I'm thankful for that. I was seriously afraid that she would be scared and we'd have a traumatized child on our hands. Turns out my husband and I are traumatized enough for all of us.
In case you had any doubts, God is indeed powerful and gracious.
Have you taken a CPR course lately?