My wife often calls me at work a couple of times throughout the day, so when the phone rang on Monday morning, I thought nothing of it as I picked up. But this was a different call than I've ever received. It's one that I hope I don't have to hear again. She was frantic and told me that our daughter had swallowed a coin and that it was stuck in her throat. My mind snapped to attention. The first thing I noticed was that my daughter was in the background crying. This was actually good. It meant that the swallowed coin was not fully blocking her airflow.
Still, you could tell that she was in distress and my wife told me that she couldn't get it out, either up or down. It was lodged.
The Biggest Risk Was Panic
Our daughter was upset. I heard her crying but she was also trying hard to catch her breath, which was made more difficult by the fact that she was crying. She's always been one, even as a little baby, that would often throw up when she got really upset. This would be a very, very bad thing to happen in this case. If she kept getting more upset and struggling, she could throw up, which could then fully block her airway or cause her to inhale the vomit into her lungs.
It's Getting Worse, I Have To Go
All of the things I just outlined in the paragraphs since I picked up the phone were thoughts that went through my head in just a couple of seconds. My wife confirmed that she was breathing and wanted to know what she should do. Before I even had a chance to answer, she said “It's getting worse, I'm calling 9….”
And the phone cut out.
Working Close To Home
I'd already gotten up from my desk and walked out over toward the corner of the building. After this, I went back to my desk and grabbed my keys. I tried calling my wife a couple of times in hopes that things had somehow gotten better. Unfortunately, it went to voicemail each time.
I got in the car and started home. I tried to drive calm. The fact that I'd heard our daughter crying on the phone told me that at least she was breathing. If there was to be any type of an emergency with not breathing, I knew that the clock hadn't started yet.
It's only about a six minute drive for me, and most of it was as a normal drive would be except that it was during mid-morning. When I turned off one road and onto the main road where our subdivision entered, that's when I saw how real it was. About a half mile in front of me was a fire truck and ambulance with sirens and lights on.
I see emergency trucks all the time, but this was different. This time, I knew exactly where they were going.
I was about a minute behind and so when I pulled up, they were just getting out of their trucks. Since they grabbed equipment, I was able to get to our front door before they did. My wife was standing there holding our daughter, who now seemed much better.
It Finally Went Down
Somewhere in the minutes between when my wife hung up with me and when I (and the emergency trucks) got to our house, the coin had finally gotten unlodged and went the rest of the way down.
The emergency responders were great. They quickly assessed that she wasn't in immediate distress. The EMTs talked to my wife to find out what had happened. One got down on the same level as my daughter and talked to her. He asked some questions and made sure she was coherent. They took her blood pressure and listened to her lungs . When everything was all said and done, they explained that she still needed to get checked out. They recommended she go to the hospital. We had a choice of whether to take her ourselves or have them take her.
We chose to take her. It seemed less scary to her and seemed as though the worst had passed. They still took her over to the ambulance and gave her a stuffed animal. And, they even gave one to her for her brother!
In The End
By the time it was all said and done, a second ambulance had arrived as well as a police car. Our street was pretty well full of emergency vehicles, and I'm sure any neighbors that happened to be home were curious, though with the time of day, we didn't attract any sort of crowd.
My wife did take her to the emergency room (a post for another day) and they checked her out and determined that she had swallowed a small coin (we think a dime) and that it should naturally pass.
We've talked to our kids multiple times about not putting things in their mouth, and while they often listen, they're both stubborn and often learn lessons the hard way. I have a feeling that she might have finally learned her lesson.
At the end of the day, we all said a little extra prayer and gave a few extra hugs. While it ended up not being a true emergency, it was still a scary and humbling experience. To see how quickly things can change is truly incredible and something that no parent should forget. Our daughter went from playing with toys to switching to a coin and putting it in her mouth, in a matter of moments. She had an angel watching over her, and I hope it stays next to her!
Readers,hopefully you've never had to go through anything so scary, but if you have, please share your experiences in the comments below.