Thursday, December 29, 2011

One year ago tonight........................

One year ago tonight, I held my daughter's limp, blue, not breathing, unconscious body in my arms.  We had been performing first aid for several minutes, but it wasn't working.  Our SUV stopped in the middle of the road, so my husband could help, the hospital was still 15 minutes away & the ambulance that we were expecting when we called 911 was even further away. It was the single scariest moment of my life.  Typing this now, even a full year later is difficult, the tears are streaming.  A few minutes before, I had thought we would get to the hospital in time, but at this point I wasn't sure.

About 15 minutes earlier, we had sat down for supper.  We were in a bit of a rush, because we were heading down to the ski hill soon.  Hot dogs are a rare treat in my house, but at a grocery store in a different city a few days earlier, I had found some hot dogs that I thought were better nutritionally.  In my rush to get the kids fed & out the door, I forgot to slice K's hot dog in half length wise like I always do for my kids at that age.  She was quite hungry & very excited to get such a treat for supper, so she took a big bite & didn't chew as well as she should have.  Within moments, she was struggling to take a wheezing breath as a large chunk of hot dog blocked her airway. We tried doing the Heimlich, & because she was little we also tried doing the back blows & chest thrusts that you would do for an infant who is choking.  When we weren't successful, we quickly decided to head for the ER.  K was still able to breathe, but it was laboured & she was still wheezing. Once in the SUV, I phoned 911, which is when we were told that the only available ambulance in our tiny community at the moment, was way on the other side of town.  We had to make it to town with her still alive as the ambulance would never arrive in the few minutes it takes for a child to pass away from lack of oxygen.

Every first aid course I have ever taken (& there have been quite a few) came back to me as we desperately tried to get K breathing again. I'm sure it was only minutes, but it seemed like hours that we worked on K`s limp body to unblock her airway & get her breathing again.  Finally, I managed to dislodge the piece of hot dog & get it far up enough in K's throat, that my husband was able to put his finger in her mouth (which is actually a no no, but at this point we were desperate) & get it out. Within a very short time, K regained consciousness & her skin started to return from a terrible blackish blue colour to pink again.  By the time we reached the hospital 15 minutes later, although sleepy & not herself, she was starting to become more active & respond to questions.  The hospital monitored her for a while, then sent her home the same evening.

Although K mostly recovered quite quickly, her face looked terrible for a few days as many blood vessels broke during her ordeal.  She also had a number of bruises from us performing the Heimlich maneuver & back blows so many times.

The next evening, we cancelled all of our New Years plans & spent a quiet evening at home, just thankful that all of our family was there to enjoy it with us.

I am surprised at how hard this has been to write.  I don`t remember when I shed this many tears last.  I think how easily things could have ended differently & I am so grateful.  

If you make only one plan for the New Year, make a resolution to take a first aid course.  I pray you will never have to use the information, but it is better to have it because you never know when something like this could happen.  


  1. I was hyperventilating just reading your story! Oh my gosh, how scary!!!
    That is a huge fear of mine with our Madi, since she doesn't breathe the best to begin with.

    I am so glad that everything turned out okay!

  2. Wow, reading your story brought tears to my eyes. I know John and I both could use a refresher first aid/CPR course ... I'm so glad everything turned out okay that night, one year ago.

  3. Yikes! I had no idea that had happened! I don't know what I would do, it's so scary. I'm SO happy everything turned out for the best!

  4. Wow. So scary. I've taken a CPR class a few times, but it's been many years.

    I'm so grateful for the outcome last year and pray you have a very blessed New Year.

  5. Thank you. I am gathering information to sign up for a course locally. I'll also arrange for our caregiver to attend a course. Thanks so much for sharing your harrowing story. It's really an eye opener. ...and I'm so so glad the ending is a happy one!!!

  6. WOW!! I will take a first aid course excellent advice. Wow. i'm speechless.