Humor by Diane Farr
I was feeding my kids pistachio nuts right out of my mouth when my 2-year-old daughter Sawyer starting coughing. She coughed a lot, but then settled down. So we piled in our minivan to go have Christmas lunch with my in-laws. Sawyer coughed more en route and eventually threw up. We pulled over, cleaned her and she was happy again. With no other signs of sickness, it seemed the excess coughing must have caused her to vomit.
During lunch, however, Sawyer threw up six more times. I know this makes me sound like a negligent parent, but as soon as she was done coughing, then gagging, then vomiting, she would happily race back to the other kids and play. Finally, on the umpteenth vomit of the day, I remembered the story of an adult who got a nut stuck "in his lung."
I ran out of the restaurant with Sawyer, fearful she had "aspirated" the pistachio nut. The hospital rushed us in because by the time we reached the E.R., Sawyer had passed out for a few seconds after a coughing fit. Once in an examination room, a nurse asked me a lot of peanut questions. Mostly about peanut allergies.
You know, up until this point, I found the "peanut-police" annoying. There are so many allergies among children now that I have often wondered if parents are putting labels on things too fast -- or if current manufacturing practices have absolutely destroyed our food. Milk, soy, nut, wheat and gluten allergies abound in preschools now. Serve your kid peanut butter on a playdate and you will be a pariah in mommy society.
This was all somewhat annoying to me, until I had a run in with a food group that could have killed my kid -- the same food group that is the captain of deadly allergens.
Having had enough of one nurse's plan to "wait and see" if this was an allergy, I channeled Shirley MacLaine from "Terms of Endearment" and brought my vomitous child to the charge nurse's desk. And let her puke on it until the nurse found me a doctor.
The attending physician ordered X-rays and called a pediatric gastroenterologist. Our family pediatrician has become my friend, so I called her on my cell phone. She found me a pediatric ear, nose and throat specialist who -- sight unseen, over the phone -- insisted that the hospital prep my daughter for surgery.
Who knew that whole nuts and dried beans expand inside the body? If these foods "go down the wrong pipe," they will expand - and in a child under 4 years old, expand so much they could block an airway.
And I mean really who knows this? I have three kids. I've taken more parenting classes than most. I'm the class mom of the parents association at our preschool. I see doctors regularly and make all my kids' food from recipes I've gotten from parenting cookbooks, kids' websites and other families. In not one of these circles have I ever heard that my children COULD DIE if I fed them whole nuts before age 4.
Thank goodness this superhero-surgeon put a scope down my daughter's throat. She found and then removed that pistachio from the bronchial area. Sawyer is now left with bronchitis from the fluid that surrounded the pistachio or the excess vomiting her body did to try to remove it. I'm giving her medication five times a day this week and have to put a mask over her face three to six times each day and night to give her a breathing treatment. All because of a pistachio, whose shell I carefully cracked in my own mouth so I could feed the nut inside to my child.
Needless to say, after removing every raw nut and dried bean in evidence at my house (as well as all carrots and hot dogs, which I'm not taking any choking chances with any longer) and beating them mercilessly against the inside of my trash cans before throwing them out, we are now a nut-free house.
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