Recently I read an article in Parenting Magazine about choking hazards for kids. The article emphasized that hot dogs in particular are a major choking hazard for children because the shape and size are so similar to their little esophagus'. After reading the article I thought to myself that my children would never choke on a hot dog because we always cut them up and because they are such hearty eaters. Aidan usually shoves so much food into his mouth that he can barely breathe, but somehow he always manages to chew and swallow it all down. Last night Aidan choked on a hot dog, which set in motion a series of events which really made me think about some of the things I have gotten more lax about.
Last night we had the grill going and were making brats and hot dogs for dinner. We planned on eating al fresco, but after shooshing away flies for five minutes, we decided to move indoors. Aidan had been eating some pasta salad while Randy cut up the hot dogs to let them cool off. In our rush to move everything inside, we served Aidan his hot dog which was not cut in half (like we usually do) just into bite sized circles. I had barely finished my brat when Aidan became very upset and started trying to get out of his chair. I figured he was done and started to clean him up. He became extremely upset as I picked him up and started crying. In between cries there was a horrible honking sound coming from his throat. I tried to calm him down to see if it stopped, but he would not be calmed. I took him into the bathroom because he became warm and sweaty, and put him into some cool water to play and calm down, while Randy called our ask a Nurse line to see what we should do. Aidan had had a scratchy throat all day, so I hoped he would calm down and breathe normally and we would take him in to the doctor to be checked for strep the next day. The Nurse on the line listened to his breathing and said that it sounded like croup and to hang up and call 911. Being in a rural area and 25 miles from a hospital we loaded into the car and headed to the hospital as quickly and safely as possible. Aidan calmed down immensely but was leaning his head back to catch a breath of air frequently. We checked into the ER as soon as we got there, about 6pm, and waited about 20 minutes before we were called back. The nurse listened to him and decided after hearing the chain of events to take him back immediately. They moved some beds around and found us a room. We talked to the doctor and she said that they would do an x-ray first to see if they could see the obstruction. If they could not see anything then he would be off to the OR to receive anesthesia and have a scope inserted into his esophagus to find the obstruction. We went to x-ray soon after being called back. They got the x-ray on the first try and we were taken back to our room. Ten minutes later they confirmed that they could not see anything in the x-ray and we would have to do the scope. We were told we would have to wait until 11pm so that Aidan would have an empty stomach, so Randy decided to take Reese to his parents to spend the night. Soon after he left, they doctor came in and told us that the doctor and anesthesiologist were called in to a trauma and they wanted to see if he could drink, then they could send us home and we could go to the doctors office in the morning to have the hot dog removed. I was not happy with this new plan of action, so I was so relieved when Aidan spit out the water that I tried giving him. Randy returned about 8:30 and soon after we were told that they were going to get his IV in and ready for the surgery sooner than planned. We went to the OR floor at about 9pm to finish prepping and talk to the doctor and anesthesiologist. At 10pm one of the nurses took him from me and carried him back to the OR. Five minutes later she returned to tell us that the anesthesia helped him to relax his throat and the hot dog fell into his stomach. They returned wheeling Aidan on the bed, and he looked so small and helpless! I don't know how people who have children with severe illnesses or that require lots of medical care handle it! They woke him up and he was coughing and wheezing very loudly still. They determined that he had croup and called him doctor to get a prescription for some steroids to help reduce swelling in his throat. After monitoring him for awhile to make sure that he accepted the medicine well, we were released. We made it home just after 12 and tucked Aidan into bed. I cleaned up dinner and went to bed around 1. I woke him up at 3, administered the next dose of steroids and put him back to sleep. Then he woke me up coughing and wheezing at 6 am. We dressed and got ready to go, dropped some clothes off for Reese and went to the pediatricians. The office opened at 8, but our doctor was not available until 9, so we waited until he came in. They checked his weight, oxygen levels in his blood and listened to his lungs countless times. Finally, they decided it was croup and treated him with a breathing treatment and more steroids. I administered the breathing treatment and they rechecked his oxygen levels, which had improved. After another quick check, a prescription and doctor promising to call later to check on him, we were free to go. We picked up the meds and then big sister and headed home. Aidan ate a little bit of canned fruit and then I put him to bed. He sounds a lot better, as long as he is not upset or being too physically active.
Hopefully he will continue to improve and be back to his normal self soon. I know that I will be a lot more vigilant about how much food I give him and how well it is cut up from now on. I also learned that 5 minutes of crying because he is hungry is a lot better than hours of crying because he has food lodged in his throat!