Thursday, September 16, 2010
It was 04/14/10. A typical Wednesday evening; I was trying to make dinner and had sentenced the kids upstairs to their room while summoning my culinary muse (Martha Stewart with a dash of Cookie Monster). Sometimes (usually) my kids get a little rambunctious (foaming at the mouth monkeys) at that time of the afternoon while I'm calmly trying (loudly and failing) to get dinner made (waffles on the iron). Sometimes the needy distractions make me resort to gating them in their room. This was one of those nights. They were like adorable, frantic, little caged zoo animals and I briefly entertained slipping peanuts through the slats of the baby-gate. But I resisted and focused on the task at hand - Operation Dinner.
I was downstairs for approximately 4 seconds when I heard this shrill scream from my Little Man. And like any self-respecting mother, I decided to give it the 15 second test. The 15 second test is something I implement at least twice a day. I have seen my children get their fingers crunched in doors only to violently scream for a mere 15 seconds and then be distracted by something else.
Red Baron: AHHH!!! That kid bit me and broke the first 2 layers of skin on my face! SCHRIWLERIWNE!!! (13 seconds later) Is there any cheese?
So I waited. Fifteen seconds came and went and the screaming only got worse. I popped into high gear and bounded up the stairs to their room with the determined speed of "this better be good, I've got waffles on." At the top of the stairs sat a very judgmental Red Baron, with a knowing look in her eye, and a spastic red-faced Little Man, rolling around in agony.
Me: What's going on? What happened?
Red Baron: He's got a doll shoe up his nose and he can't get it out.
Me: ..... What.....?
RB: He's got a shoe up his nose and we can't get it out. (Turning to Little Man) I told you not to do that.
If I were to chart her concern at this very moment, I would say that she was about 10% concerned over his nasal peril, 40% disappointed that her doll shoe had sunk deep into his face and 40% annoyed he hadn't listened to her sage "don't-put-that-up-there" advice. I finally wrestled the Little Man into temporary stillness and realize he is practically elbow deep up his left nostril, still screaming. It's really difficult, but I can barely see the slightest trace of something. And it's WAY up there.
Me: Who's shoe is up there?
RB: Polly Pocket's.
DAMN THAT POLLY POCKET AND HER SLIMY LITTLE SHOES! I knew EXACTLY what shoe she's talking about - it was part of Polly's Dog Walking ensemble - a chartreuse high heeled pump (obviously). I myself heroically saved it from the vacuum several times and repeating the words "be careful with this or you'll lose it." But NO ONE EVER LISTENS TO MAMA, DO THEY!
I bring them both downstairs, Little Man still screaming and Red Baron acting smug. I try to extract said doll shoe with a bulb syringe, to no avail. I try to instruct him on blowing it out with a deep breath, but suddenly realized his 2 year-old mind doesn't see the difference between blowing out and breathing in, taking the offending shoe deeper into his cranium. I call the doctor's office, which is of course closed, and I leave a message with the call-back service.
Operator: What's the nature of your child's injury?
Me: He has a doll shoe up his nose and we can't get it out.
Operator: (Suppressing a rising chortle of laughter) Can you repeat that?
Me: He has a DOLL SHOE up his NOSE. And I can't get it out. It's really up there. (Screaming boy in the background).
Operator: Ok. (deep breath). Ummm... (serenity now, don't laugh). I'm sure they'll call you..... (I'm not going to keep this laugh down too much longer).... really soon.Goodbye.
The doctor did promptly call me back, also breathing in funny sequences after hearing the situation accompanied by continued screaming in the background that hadn't declined in volume or pitch I might add, and she said that we needed to take him to the ER because of potential breathing problems while Little Man slept.
I then asked,
"Are you sure? The ER? Really?"
Listen. It's not that I don't want him to breath. I really do like my kids breathing; in fact I prefer it. But the ER? Just seemed unnecessary. I pictured the Little Man's bulging nostril sitting next to the kid with a half-lodged fork in his arm, or someone on breathing tubes. Isn't going to the ER a little hasty? Dramatic? Embarrassing? What about the waffles?
"Yes," she assured me, even though I can feel her smile through the phone,"we just don't know how far it is up there and you should probably get him in pretty soon. It's not like it's a measly ear problem. If the shoe were in the ear you could totally wait until tomorrow's clinic hours."
I had not known of the hierarchy of such injuries. So I agreed and called the Husband Around Here to come home and assist me in these parental duties. Believe me, I really felt for Little Man. He was obviously really uncomfortable and pretty mad. But I also felt for myself too - having to trek everyone to ER, wait, pay and retell the story of the blasted Polly Pocket Shoe over and over again. Damn that Polly and her tiny little feet.
We get to the ER, and after retelling the story about 4 times (to the delight of everyone) we finally get on a gurney in the hallway with a real, live doctor.
Dr: This is going to be quick and easy. You'll be out of here in 5 mins. This is what we're going to do: you're going to form a tight seal around his mouth, while plugging the other nostril with your fingers, you will blow really hard. Like you're doing CPR.
I noted the proverbial "we" which really meant "me (aka Mama)" doing all the work here (I've heard that a time or two before). In coming to the ER, I expected some doctoring and that I would be off the hook. If I messed up, who would I sue?
Plus, for whatever reason, I just couldn't get my mind around what he was saying. It wasn't brain surgery (well.... maybe it kind of was, but anyway), I just could not compute what he was telling me. It might have been that my ears were still ringing from having a screaming kid on me for a while, but I just couldn't make sense of what he wanted me to do.
Me: .....What? I'm going to do what?
Dr: Form a tight seal.... have you taken a CPR class? (dumbing-it-down).
My brain wasn't registering any of this. CPR was for kids who aren't breathing.
Dr.: You're going to form a tight seal and blow really hard while plugging the other nostril and the object is going to come flying out. It's all connected up there (d'uh). If that doesn't work, we'll get the forceps. If those don't work, we'll operate.
What did I say about the ER being dramatic!! I'm so right!
Me: So.... I'm going to do it?
Me: Like. Right now?
Dr.: Yes. (Idiot).
By this time Little Man was finally calmed down and actually enjoying all this great attention. In fact, every time I told the staff what had happened, he would chime in at the very end with "Yah, is really up there!" It was adorable. But now Mama had to do the dirty work and get this dirty shoe nugget out of my kid's schnoz. I lean over, but had totally forgotten that I had gum in my mouth. I tried to hide it on the roof of my mouth out of embarrassment, but that resulted in a half-hearted effort. Nothing came out.
Surging with his can-do attitude, I spat my gum out the side of my mouth, catching it in my left hand, and blew in Little Man's mouth with ferocity. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a flying wad of chartreuse digustingness land somewhere on the other side of the gurney.
It totally worked. I did it. Call me Mama, MD. Is it strange to say this flying, slimy hunk of plastic bounced it's way into my top 5 most proud motherhood moments?
I was beaming.
Dr.: Would you like to keep this? (Lifting up Polly's dirty little secret).
Me.: I don't know, do you think it would fit in his baby book?
Dr.: (You're a freak).
For the record, the doctor was really great and I was glad to know this non-invasive procedure for future reference. And I'm considering the total bill as the down payment towards my medical school tuition, should I ever choose to attend. But I'm totally going to skip the day they cover nose obstruction, since I'm already an expert.
*This posting is dedicated to Jenner. Thanks for asking.