"Look At Me"

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Monday, July 9, 2012

Performing the Heimlich Maneuver: The Not-So-Harmless Apple Chunk

I'll be honest, yesterday scared the crap out of me.  Where I left my nephew's birthday party, I was sobbing, shaking, and pretty much hysterical.  Looking back at everything today, I realize just close a call we actually had.  My son choked on a piece of apple and I had to perform the Heimlich Maneuver.  I'll tell you more in a little bit. 

I'm attaching a link for you: 

This is a video on how to perform the Heimlich Maneuver on a child.  Share this with whomever you want--you never know, it might save a life.  First off, I'll say that I skipped a bunch of steps.  Since Derek is autistic, he did NOT do the universal sign of choking.  He did not grab his neck to tell me he was choking.  I didn't even ask him if he was--he wouldn't have nodded his head.  I didn't tell him what I was going to do, either.  There was no time and he probably wouldn't have understood anyway.  I just picked my child up and did what I had to do... 

Here is what happened.  My nephew Andy turned 3 and had a birthday party.  The party was at a house with a huge backyard.  Up near the house were lawn chairs and that's where the adults were hanging out, eating and talking.  On the other side of the yard was a swing set with a slide.  That's where Derek was.  He had eaten nothing but cheese puffs for supper, so I was trying to get him to eat apple slices.  He took an apple slice and headed for the swing set.  I try to keep an eye on Derek no matter where I am or what I'm doing--it's second nature to me by now.  So when I glanced at Derek and he was kneeling at the bottom of the slide, looking like he was about to vomit, I stood up.  I stared at him for a minute, and realized instantly that something was wrong.  I took off at a dead sprint.  I knew--I KNEW--that he was choking.  No, he was not holding his throat.  But his body was heaving and he was not vomiting.  His face was white.  And there was a look of pure terror in his eyes.  I know my son like the back of my hand.  When his face looks like that, something is REALLY WRONG.  When I got to him, his face was starting to turn blue.  My first instinct was to slap him on the back.  But I knew that could make the apple get lodged farther down, (I took first-aid classes a long time ago) so I picked up his limp body, turned him around, wrapped my arms around him, and drove my fist into his stomach.  Nothing happened.  I had to do it several times before I heard him gag and then breathe.  He gagged several times and then dry-heaved.  Then he started crying. 

We left the party early and my poor, traumatized son fell asleep within two minutes of getting in the car.  He seems fine today, but I've been checking his stomach to make sure I didn't bruise him. 

I'll tell you one thing.  Doing the Heimlich Maneuver on a plastic adult manekin and doing it on your own 4 year old son?  TOTALLY DIFFERENT EXPERIENCE.  There are no classes in the world that can prepare you for the terror of the real thing.  An apple a day does not always keep the doctor away.,,

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