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.