When it comes to eating problems, I have seen it all. Chewing problems. Food that comes out the nose. Food that sits in the back of the mouth, unable to be cleared. Food that falls out the front of the mouth. Choking. Coughing. Swallows that are initiated so late that the food has already fallen into the lungs before the swallow is triggered.
I have palpated swallows, 'listened' to swallows through a stethoscope, x-rayed swallows and done endoscopic evaluations of swallows.
I have treated people who have tracheostomies, those who have had their larynxes removed, babies learning to breastfeed, dying patients and people with no tongues (glossectomies from cancer, usually).
I have fed people pureed food, minced food, soft food, hard foods, and chewy foods.
I have prescribed thickened fluids, water only or no fluids, depending on the needs of the patient.
I have withheld food because the person's swallow was not present and the only 'safe' way to feed them was through a tube.
One man died whilst I was present in his room before I even got to assess him. I always wondered about the person who referred this man to me. What were they thinking? But I was happy to be with the man when he died. The alternative was he die alone.
One woman choked when one of my
All of this experience has meant that feeding my children has never raised a sweat for me. I don't mean the nutritional side of things (that has always been difficult), but the actual teaching them to eat bit. I have never feared when my toddler's have coughed or spluttered a bit whilst tackling their first lumps. I have never panicked when my children have gagged on their meat.
Last night whilst Dew Drop was munching on a corn chip (nachos) he managed to lodge the chip in the back of his throat. He went silent and then tried to cough it out but it was stuck. The Geege freaked out a bit but I crossed the room and calmly poked my finger to the back of his mouth in a sweeping action, dislodged the chip and gently bend Dew Drop forward so he could cough it out. No drama. No worries.
It is times like this that I am thankful for all those dysphagics I have treated, for they taught me a lot about the human swallow mechanism. There are few situations that would make me panic when it comes to choking. Experience breeds quick, sensible reactions that might just save a little person's life.
I am sure grateful for that.
Have you experienced any choking incidents with your kids? How did you manage?