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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I Was An Almost Hero...

Pin It I was sitting at the dinner table with my longtime friend, Hazen, and his three boys. As we were eating the steak grilled just a few minutes before in the backyard, Tanner, the resident 5th grader and eldest mancub of the brood, sat next to me. The boy chatted away about this, that, and the other.

“I’m on a soccer team…”
“I’m raising a sheep for 4H and am going to make a lot of money when I sell it…”
“I can ride a size 80 motorcycle…”
“I got a trophy for baseball last year…”

I listened to each pronouncement and proud accomplishment of this eleven year-old boy. But suddenly, the consistent chatter unexpectedly came to a stop. I was surprised and glanced over at Tanner who suddenly began to pound both hands on the table like a Pentecostal preacher at a holy revival.

What was going on with him?

I caught a glimpse of Tanner’s face, panic-stricken with round eyes. I reached for the pitcher of lemonade to pour some into his glass because it looked like he’d just eaten something far too hot; that’s when I noticed his glass was still filled to the rim.

It was at this moment the boy started pointing to his throat—eyes watering.

Instantaneously, my Scout training flew back to memory just as if I’d just learned it yesterday—all of the first aid instruction about what to do when somebody was choking—also, the scene from What About Bob when Dr. Marvin begins to choke flashed through my head.

I started to stand and made ready to administer the slaps on the back, or begin the Heimlich maneuver as Tanner began to cough, and up came the slightly too-large chunk of masticated steak.

The boy coughed a few more times and leaned back in his chair.

“Are you okay?” I asked, lightly patting his back.

Tanner’s eyes were watering like a fountain. “Yeah, I just couldn’t breathe.” He wheezed—voice filled with relief.

Tanner’s dad, after checking that his son was really okay, said, “Tanner, you know the universal sign for choking is to do this,” he demonstrated the sign with both hands.

Tanner nodded in that fifthgradian way which indicated that he already knew absolutely everything there was to know about anything and everything.

“I know that,” he said, cutting a much smaller piece of meat this time.

“Then why didn’t you do it?” asked his dad. “We were all confused. It looked like you had eaten something too hot.”

There was silence.

So much for fifth-grade knowitallness.

Patted Tanner on the back again and asked, “Hey, why didn’t you let me save you by doing the Heimlich Maneuver? You know, I could have saved your life and then blogged about it afterward…you realize that you kept me from being a hero, right?

The boy shrugged and returned to his dinner. A few minutes later he asked, “Are you still going to blog about it?”

I winked at him. “Heck yes…”

“Good. Hey, did you know that I…”

I listened again to the incessant chatter of my friend’s son. I was glad to see that the choking didn’t inhibit the fifth grade ability to talk. I’m glad that he’s not dead. I’m glad that I was almost able to save his life.

I’m glad I was almost a hero.


Richard & Natalie said...

It's the thought that counts right? Well, that and the intent of acting on the thought.

I guess that gives you honorary hero status.

Now if you could shoot cheese from your arm pits, then we'd be talkin. ;)

Chrissy said...

I remembered that happened when I was working the lunch tables at school... My friend was the hero... The kid had put a wad of fruit rollup in his mouth then tried to chase a juice box at the same time... Did u know liquid hardens those fruit rollups? Needless to say my friend did the heimlech.. The yard duty got her award at the District meeting... Bottom line: the kid went back to talking and no he did not know the universal choking sign... The bulging eyeballs was enough of a signal.

Sue said...

My son choked on a piece of steak when he was a teenager. He's always been a big joker, so we all just looked at him "choking" and laughed, thinking this was but another of his elaborate comedy routines.

When he began turning blue, my husband realized he was in trouble and administered the heimlich maneuver. Thankfully, it worked!

Kinda scary, after the fact.


Katie Rich said...

What About Bob was one of my favorite movies growing up. Too bad you missed your opportunity with Tanner.

Shirley said...

You may have missed that moment to be a hero, but dont ever forget, you are a hero everyday you step infront of your classroom. ;)

Teachinfourth said...

N - I could take honorary status in a pinch…as for the superpower, cheesepits are most certainly up there.

C - Isn't that funny, the things which bother (or don't bother) kids? Kudos to your friend for thinking quickly and acting on it.

S - Glad it turned out alright in the end; it could have been something far worse. Curse the kids who are so good at joking that when something real happens, nobody believes them.

K - I could have done that couch knee thing…

S - That's a good way to think about it. I know that I really do miss being a 'hero' over the summer.

Bits-n-Pieces said...

Wow!! I'm almost so proud of you!!

Rachel said...

I tell you what!! :D (I'm actually going to tell you this time). I'm mighty grateful for that stuff learned in scouts. Same scenario except it was Levi with too big a chunk of steak and the heimlich had to be used by a fast reacting eagle scout.....his older brother.

Good stuff that scouting..... I tell you what!

Glad you didn't have to use it but glad you know how if ever the need should arise or come forth or uprise! :D

Crustacean Queen said...

WHAT!! My nephew just about died!!! I love the fact that Hazen was scolding him about looking like he had eaten something HOT, instead of using the choking sign! Thanks for "blogging" the story. I bet Tanner feels like a celebrity now!

The Empress said...

Laughter after relief, the sweetest feeling...

Lori said...

That's pretty funny. I love that he wanted to be blogged about. To this day I have to live with stories about how I choked on a piece of chopped steak and my step-dad saved the day. It's quite embarrassing. ;)

Stef said...

Wow! He was lucky to have you nearby to almost save him. I wish I had someone around me to almost do everything. I think it would motivate me to do more. If it makes you feel better, you are a hero in my book simply because you sat and listened to all the bragging chatter.

Corine said...

To have already decided to blog about this, and have that boy KNOW IT... I think it's safe to say you're just a wee bit obsessed with blogging. ;)

Great story...And by the way, you do know, dont you,... now that you let the cat out of the bag, the next time a kid starts to choke, everyone will be looking at you and waiting for you to finally get your shot at it! Good luck and have fun! ;D Oh, and do notify me when it happens; I want to read about it. Thanks. :)

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