In my last post, I mentioned a phrase that Mark often uses, in regard to Corrigan, that “just because he hasn’t done it yet, doesn’t mean he never will.” and while that can pertain to almost anything, he often says it when we are discussing Corrigan’s safety.
Corrigan is not a daredevil. He does not climb up onto very high things, he has never shown any interest in the electrical outlets around the house and he keeps his distance around most animals. In these circumstances he is cautious. However, in other areas he can be 100% oblivious to the danger (water) and absolutely would dart out into traffic, even if he saw a car coming down the road.
When he was very small, we child-proofed our home as best as we could and were very fortunate that other than one nasty fall from a dining room chair, and another from his bed, we haven’t had to make many ER runs, or call poison control. His oral aversions actually played to our favor in the area of choking, even before his appetite disappeared and he was eating baby food, he never really put strange things into his mouth. It is such a struggle to get him to try even the most delicious treat, even if I know that one bite would change his mind completely, he nearly always goes with his first instinct which is to refuse and run away.
I’m not sure what age a child should be before you let down your guard a bit, but as Corrigan approaches age five, in my mind it seems like we should be out of the danger zone. However, because Corrigan is quite developmentally delayed, he is only just now starting to test his own comfort levels and make some decisions that make Mark comment about “just because he hasn’t before…” and it is making me reevaluate the dangers around my house.
I still have an extreme confidence that if he found an Exlax on the floor, he wouldn’t eat it thinking it was chocolate, or swallow a marble or something like that. At least not on purpose. Those lips are steel traps and his ability to lock that mouth up tight is legendary. Still, not long ago he almost choked to death.
( ham is no good for your health)
Shortly after Christmas we had an appointment in DC and the hospital still had an enormous amount of donated gifts left over from the holiday season. At the end of his appointment, he was given (not for being “good”, dear God that was one of his worst anxiety-ridden appointments ever) a Toy Story book. In the back of the book was a play mat that opened and looked like Andy’s room and there were a half-dozen tiny Toy Story figurines. It was, quite simply, adorable.
I do admit that my first thought was, “whoa, those are some small figurines” and considered them as a possible choking hazard, but again…this was Corrigan we were talking about, I think my real concern was how they would feel when I stepped on them in the middle of the night.
Weeks go by and he played with them now and again, but not frequently, he prefers figurines that are about the size of his hand, no bigger or smaller, and I was tired of fishing them out of my vacuum so I slipped them into the drawer of the coffee table.. He would still get the play mat out to lay on (???) but the figurines were eventually forgotten about.
One afternoon, a few weeks back, I heard him opening and closing the end table drawers and then when I checked on him, he was lining the figurines up on the coffee table. My laptop is on my kitchen island and I can hear clearly in any room on the ground floor of the house. The den is less than seven steps from the kitchen so I often listen for changes in the sounds he makes to determine what he is doing, or where he might be. Silence, as with most little kids, is often a sign of naughtiness. At one point I heard him making the chirping sounds that he often produces when flinging water droplets above his head, or when he finds a full box of tissues and he makes them fly, and went into the den to see what it was he was tossing into the air.
He was laying on the couch, flat on his back, and was tossing Buzz and Jesse up into the air and laughing as they pelted him like hail stones when they fell back down. He has an odd pain tolerance level so I knew that he wasn’t feeling their full effect as they hit him. I warned him that he would be sorry if one caught him on his forehead and removed a few of the figurines that had pokier parts in case one whacked him in the eye.
It was harmless.
Or so I thought.
I walked back towards the kitchen when suddenly I heard the strangest sound. I cannot explain it, but it sounds like a gasp and a grunt and a whoosh of air and I wheeled around to race back to the den, and saw him sitting up, face as red as a beet. “Are you getting sick buddy?” I asked and even Jericho (our dog) came running because he is a disgusting creature that rather enjoys when Corrigan pukes on the floor. (shudder)
As I was walking towards him, assuming this was just another post-tube feed puke moment, something made me realize he wasn’t breathing right and I yelled his name and leaped over the coffee table. The moment I yelled, he jumped down hard, and the second his feet hit the floor, the tiny pig figurine (Hamm?) came flying out of his windpipe and landed on the floor.
He was terrified.
I was stunned.
It took me a few seconds to understand what I just saw. What just nearly happened.
There is no way, not on this Earth, that child put that toy in his mouth on purpose. No way. I think that he was tossing them in the air and that while he was laughing and chirping, that stupid little pig fell right down into his windpipe.
Thank God I was only a few feet away and heard that weird, muted sound. Thank God he sat up quickly and perhaps kept it from going down further. Thank God that it all worked out well because though I am fully capable of administering the Heimlich, I am often good-for-nothing in emergency situations, and I just cannot imagine having to provide rescue for my own child. I was home alone with Corrigan that day, obviously I would have had no choice but to provide rescue, but I am so grateful to God that I did not have to do so.\
I have moved my knife block further back on the counter. We have our blind cords secured. I never let him in a bathroom alone. He is very closely supervised anytime he is outside of the house. I think I do a good job supervising him inside of the house. He is not allowed to travel anywhere in his school without an adult with him. We try and view safety concerns as if he is only just three years old, instead of almost five. We do our best, but sometimes the crazy things happen that you can’t imagine in your head and it is a wake up call to do better.
I haven’t worked this hard to keep him healthy and alive this long, despite a disorder that defies my authority (ha!) to have him injured, or worse killed, by carelessness. I need to adopt Mark’s point of view and not rule out things because he is older now. Corrigan still needs us to protect him as if he were very very little and that may be the case for a long time.
I think Hamm, and his Toy Story pals, need to go into storage and “not suitable for children under 3” will still be a part of my toy buying decisions.