Last Thursday night, our family went through an ordeal. I am sharing it here so that you, especially those with very young children, may learn from our experience.
It was a normal evening. I was carrying my baby Francis (13 months old) in my arms. He was playful as usual, pinching my face and tugging my hair. Then he did the unthinkable— he yanked off my earring (a round diamond stud with stem) from my ear and promptly put it in his mouth. It happened so fast I wasn’t able to stop him from doing it.
I managed to touch the earring on his tongue with my finger, but this upset Francis so much that he wailed and gagged. I think it was at this point that he swallowed the earring. I passed him on to my Mom, who was then beside me. She fished for the earring and true enough it was no longer in his mouth.
My panic turned to horror when Francis turned blue (or black, I don’t remember anymore). I thought I knew how to do the Heimlich maneuver, but when you see your child choking in your arms you couldn’t think straight anymore.
Francis then cried loudly. I thought this was a good sign; at least he was breathing! With tears in my eyes, I, together with Mom, drove to the ER of the nearest hospital. This drive was the most agonizing and horrific ten minutes of my life.
Upon arrival at the ER, the doctors immediately did an x-ray. The earring had already travelled to Francis’ stomach or maybe small intestine (pictured here). We had no choice but to wait for Francis to expel it naturally. However, since the earring had a long, thin part, there was a risk it could puncture his organs. If that happened, Francis would need another surgery. His previous surgery was not even a year ago, so we prayed with all our might that he be spared from any injury. If anything happened to him, I don’t think I could forgive myself. I don’t remember when was the last time I cried as hard as I did that night.
We transferred to a bigger hospital for confinement. Serial x-rays were done over the next two days and two nights. In between X-rays and laxatives, we waited for Francis to move his bowels. He did on Friday, but alas, no earring. (Yes, we searched through the poop!) Finally on Saturday afternoon, Francis excreted the most expensive poop in the world! Since there were no signs of pain or discomfort, Francis was soon discharged from the hospital.
During the many trips to the X-ray room, the technicians and nurses told me stories about the objects children swallowed: from the common ones like coins and Lego, to the utterly dangerous ones like an open safety pin (!) and a watch battery (although small and round, imagine the toxins in there!), all of which were excreted naturally or removed by endoscopy. However, there was a 3 y.o. child who choked on Chippy. Yes, the snack. He was eating it lying down while watching TV, when a piece got lodged in his throat. Sadly, the child wasn’t saved.
I learned so many lessons from this ordeal:
#1 – Treasure every moment with your children, your family. Enjoy life. Live it to the fullest. It can be snuffed out from you in a split second.
#2 – I have to watch Francis more closely because he is at the age when he likes putting things in his mouth.
#3 – Our entire household will surely benefit from a course on first aid or CPR.
#4 – I will never wear earrings or other loose accessories again if I have to interact with a small child.
#5 – Prayer can move mountains. God is a loving and merciful God! He let my precious boy live to fulfill the wonderful plans He has for him.
(On a lighter note, I also learned that it takes almost two days for the food that we eat to go out the other end. That was the longest two days ever!)
Before I end, I would like to thank all our family and friends who expressed their support and included Francis in their prayers. Thank you so much!
Share this to whoever you think needs it. It might save your baby lives!