People will tell you a lot of things you should do as a parent. Your dentist says you should bring your kids in for a checkup as soon as they sprout teeth, your sister says you should buy this particular brand of diaper rash cream, the nice old lady at the grocery store says you should spoil your kids because they’re only little once.
All of these shoulds are debatable. But here’s one that’s not:
You absolutely should know what to do if your child starts choking.
For The Doctor, this issue is personal, since one of her most vivid childhood memories is of the time she bit off a little more than she could chew…
“I was about six or seven years old, and I know it must have been a holiday meal because we were sitting in the formal dining room and I was wearing this pretty pink paisley dress my mom made for me. I remember taking a big bite of ham and having trouble chewing it all the way up. I tried to swallow it anyway, and it got lodged in my throat.
I couldn’t breathe or make any noise, so I started frantically pulling on my mom’s clothing to get her attention. But my mom, who had four kids and was used to us trying to get her attention for less-than-life-threatening reasons, continued her conversation with her cousin across the table. Luckily, her cousin saw that I was in distress and got my mom’s attention for me.
Before I knew it, my dad scooped me out of my chair and swooped me into the kitchen, where he gave me several thrusts of the Heimlich maneuver. I felt like I was being tossed around like a rag doll, but it was quick and effective. It didn’t end up like you see in the movies though, with the ham shooting out in one clean, graceful arc across the whole room. Instead, I abruptly barfed my entire meal all over the kitchen floor. My dad put me down and I walked on shaky legs across the room to get a glass of water.
As I reached for the glass I was surprised to find that I was clutching half a pickle in my hand. I remember noting that it had apparently been a whole pickle when I started choking, because there was no bite mark – just a clean break where half had evidently snapped off during the commotion.”
It’s a semi-disturbing, oddly detailed memory, but it’s one of The Doctor’s favorites. Because without that memory, she wouldn’t have any others.
So if one of your kids ever starts choking, make sure they live to tell the tale (and maybe even eat the rest of their pickle). In case you need a refresher on how to help save the life of a choking child, read these simple instructions from parents.com, and check out this cute animated video right now!