Silent Screams and a Flash of Light

We tend to take a lot of things for granted in this life. Even those who preach not taking things for granted still do it on occasion and it’s completely natural. Life is busy. We have bills to pay, deadlines to meet, food to put on the table and children to raise, among many other things and sometimes it’s easy to forget the truly important things.

I was reminded of this fact a few weeks ago while I was out running errands with my children. They have always been fascinated with money and the way the light reflects off the coins when they spin them in different directions. Heads or tails has quickly become one of our favourite games, even though we are still working on the losing gracefully part. I will routinely pass them a nickel each to play with while we are in the car, so they can watch the light dance and dream of what they will do with their new found fortunes.

This particular day, however, my daughter had a different plan for the money. As we exited the vehicle to head into a nearby store she began to vomit on the sidewalk. With her having just gotten over a cold and based on the unhealthy food we had just eaten, I didn’t think much about it and went over to hold her while she finished up. Something was off though. She kept digging her hand in her throat and I also noticed that she had stopped breathing. At that moment, my son dropped his nickel on the pavement, reminding me of the fact that I had just handed them money minutes earlier, and her’s was no longer in her hand.

The next 30 seconds felt like 30 years. I saw my life without her flash through my mind as I began to perform the most delicate Heimlich maneuver imaginable. At one point I glanced over at my son and the pale, ghost-like expression on his face let me know that he knew exactly how severe this situation was and it made me focus even harder on making it right. It broke my heart listening to her gasping for air as I attempted to dislodge the coin from her tiny throat, when suddenly I heard the clank of the nickel on the pavement and collapsed to the ground with her in my arms.

She spent the rest of that night in my arms and the next day we had a long family discussion about the dangers of putting coins and other small objects in our mouths. Had it not been for the fact that I keep my first aid training up to date, I don’t know that I could have reacted as quickly as I did and, after many sleepless nights, I don’t care to think anymore about the consequences of that.

13 replies
  1. Pam
    Pam says:

    Wow, Chris. So very very fortunate you have first aid training! Glad she’s okay.
    And I well know how these things happen. Last week I had (what seemed like a five-alarm) fire in the kitchen while cooking with my son. He was holding the wok full of flames shooting everywhere. Still makes me shiver.

  2. Patty
    Patty says:

    Oh Chris I know first hand how scary that is. My son had a penny in his mouth when he was younger, thankfully I taught my kids the sign for choking when they were young. I had to do the exact same thing, I was terrified, but it came out. Like you, he spent the night in my arms until we both felt better. And we talked about it afterwards, he knew not to do it, but it’s just one of those things that happens in a flash. So happy your baby girl is alright.

  3. Nolie
    Nolie says:

    OMG I just started crying. How terrifying. I am a firm believer every parent should be first aid trained and this is why. We also had a scary choking incident once, it is terrifying.

  4. Alyssa
    Alyssa says:

    Oh wow Chris, that is one of the most horrible feelings as a parent I know. We had a similar situation but an unknowing relative giving our daughter who was 2 at the time, a hard candy. She tried to swallow it whole and it got lodged in her throat. We are lucky we knew what to do, as you and your little one are lucky you knew what to do. We had to ask relatives not give the kids anything unless they run it by us first. I didn’t even know she had the candy and I felt awful! 🙁

  5. Julia Gabriel
    Julia Gabriel says:

    Choking is always so scary. It’s so important to know how to deal with it when you are a parent, because it happens so quickly. I have had 3-4 episodes between my kids and my brother and I was so glad every time for my training. It’s time for a refresher though. I am so glad that your daughter is OK. ((HUGS))

  6. Crys Wiltshire
    Crys Wiltshire says:

    Wow that is terrifying. Our daughter (3yo) still occasionally put things in her mouth. She put a coin in her mouth in front of me a few months ago. Luckily I got her to spit it out before she could swallow it. Reminded me how truly young she still is & how much they still have to learn at this age. Thank goodness you have your training up to date. I can’t imagine how scary that must have been.

  7. Ashley
    Ashley says:

    Very scary; ky likes to put things in his mouth, constantly on watch. He swallowed a penny a few months ago. I was so happy it was a penny and not something larger

  8. Christine M.
    Christine M. says:

    Wow! Glad she is ok. I know what you felt. When my son was not quite a year old and crawling everywhere, got his hands on the white part of a door stopper at my inlaws. He put it in his mouth and was choking. Quick thinking, I was able to scoop it out of his throat…such a scary & terrifying moment. One that I’ll never forget.

  9. Andrea Scott RN
    Andrea Scott RN says:

    Wow, Chris thank you so much for sharing this. How unbelievably scary. Thank you for the reminder (for myself and for all of us) for both parents to be up to date on first aid/CPR, and to be extra cautious with small items which can be choking hazards for young kids. I’m so glad your daughter is okay.

  10. Lorne
    Lorne says:

    My daughter choked on a piece of pizza a few months ago. Complete terror. I was paralyzed and screamed for my wife who yanked her out of her high chair and finally got the food out. Never felt so scared in my life. Blogged about it the next day. Aside from your daughter being ok, most important thing to know is that you’re not alone in this experience


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