Friday, March 27, 2009

The Heimlich

The Heimlich and I are good friends now. We shake hands about once every week or two for the past 4 or 5 months now. Generally I say "here we go again" and we have our little rendezvous and then we go our separate ways. But today wasn't such a nice, clean visit. We al most brought others in to fill the gap between Heimlich and myself because even together we just weren't working...

Emma chokes. A LOT. She only ever took real solids starting 4 or 5 months ago, so this isn't a year-long thing. But any time she has bread, crackers that can compact, or many other things that we've already figured out. But-- chicken nuggets, hot dogs, ham, she LOVES corned beef, vegetables, rice, cereal, and a slew of other things seem to be fairly "safe". Why does she have trouble with bread and not with meat? Ah... that's the question.

She tends to store her food. With bread she tends to 'pack' it on her palate then throw it to the back of her mouth. She has no gag reflex, so it then gets lodged there. Yikes. So out of the high chair she comes, over my knee with her head to the floor, head down and a few pounds on the back and it generally comes out. If not, you can usually SEE it after that and scoop it out of the back of her throat. She has a red blotchy back after that because, well, you've got to pound her back to dislodge it... and since her capillaries sometimes burst from very little pressure at all, there are often some of those as well.

But not today. Today she was eating a cracker that has previously been on the "safe" list. The crackers themselves don't "pack" and the little bit of peanut butter between them has never been a problem. I still never walk away from her when she's eating though. I heard her choke just a little but seemed to get it out ok. Then she did it again.

This time when I took her out of her highchair and tipped her over she was breathing raspy (she never has actually STOPPED breathing, just fyi). I did everything as I have a dozen times before but nothing. She wanted to sit back up and I thought she'd gotten it either out or down, but no... still not breathing right. I did it again, scooped her mouth, tried... but nothing.

I have never felt like her choking was anything "major". It was always easily resolved and I don't get panicky very easily. Even then she was still breathing, so I wasn't panicking, but I was thinking-- if THIS isn't working-- WHAT WILL?? A third time, same thing... then I switched to the "adult" Heimlich-- the first time I've ever done this on Emma. But still no food came out. She did start to breathe a little better at this point though.

Since I knew her food had been chewed and was a cracker that wasn't "packable", I tried to give her some milk to see if now that she was doing better she might be able to wash the airway a bit. Normally I wouldn't have, but I felt like it was safe because I knew what she had choked on and that it was in small pieces already.

WHEW. She is fine. I've never before thought about calling 911 for my kids choking... not even a thought! But today that thought definitely crossed my mind today! I'm so glad she is fine. I think she'll be eating rice, cereal, oatmeal, um... mashed potatoes? Maybe some of those favorite meats of hers. ugh...


  1. Very, very scary. I hope you never have to call 911, and at least you are able to stay calm and deal with the situation. I'm glad Emma is okay.

  2. So scary...I'm glad she's ok!

  3. I completely understand the no gag reflex! Xander doesn't have one either. It scares me to death. He's choked a couple of times and I wish I could say that I stayed calm. I did not. Now there are a list of foods that are on the "only when daddy is around" feeding list.

  4. Glad it all worked out and no 911 but they are just up the street and better to call and not need them by the time they arrive than not call. I only called for David with the dime as he was only partly breathing then but David was so glad to go to someone who was not turning him upside down and pounding his back that he was as glad to see them as I was. Please only easy food when I sit for her. I won't be as calm as you are. Mom

  5. I guess bread becomes much stickier than meat, at least white bread. Dark whole-grain bread is less sticky. That's what we have started with when the children started eating bread. Maybe less good for babies' stomachs, but also less choking risk :-)

    I'm glad Emma is fine now!

  6. That was scarey just reading! And I have chokers, too! I am glad she is o.k. and that you didn't need to call 911!!

  7. My heart was pounding the entire time I read this, I so understand the choking issues, Meghan did it adn Kara has taken over. I do not get panicky unless I have tried repeatedly to get the object (usually bread too) out.I have grabbed the phone telling myself, if I can;t get the object out, I need to call 911. Kara (or Meghan) never stopped breathing either, they just could not cough up the bread or whatever else they choke on, themselves, also, no gag refelx. (((((((((((hugs)))))))))))

  8. FYI: (from an OT so I promise I'm not just being bossy :)

    It's best not to give fluids while choking. If you do reach a point that they have partially cleared and a drink seems like it might help then use water ONLY. If milk or juice is aspirated it is much more likely to cause aspiration pneumonia than water.

    honestly I don't remember the why of this, I think it's because water is less likely to grow bacteria to begin with, but that may be totally wrong.

    I am, however, sure of the concept.