Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Happy Birthday, Heimlich

Today is the birthday of the Heimlich maneuver. I don’t mean like when it was invented. I have no idea when that was. I mean today we used the Heimlich maneuver on a birthday. On the birthday boy, more specifically.

Son Number Three turned eleven years old today, and I talked him into choosing Chipotle for his birthday dinner spot. It wasn’t a hard sell. It’s Chipotle after all.

So, there we all are at a big round galvanized steel table, and I’m just minding my own business, eating my chicken burrito bowl with pinto beans and cilantro lime rice, when someone starts asking Number Three if he’s OK. He happens to be sitting directly to my right, so I was kind enough to take a moment away from my amazing bowl topped with cheese, sour cream, and both pico de gallo and tomatillo green salsa, to glance over at him.

I just thought he was gagging and needed to throw up.

At this point in the story, I think we need to step back a little and give you, the faithful reader, some background on my parenting crisis management skills.

I’m sure if I ever saw one of my children on fire, I would move quickly. Hardly any doubt, there. Short of that, however, I’m more methodical in my crisis intervention. My wife calls it oblivious, but there’s a fine line there I don’t think she’s seeing.

She might have a little bit of a point, though.

I mean, there was the time that Son Number Three broke his femur when he was three. He was crying and going on and on, so I did the responsible dad thing and told him to rub some dirt on it and get back in the game. In my defense, I had no way of knowing it was broken. Only a highly trained ER doctor can diagnose that kind of thing in the waiting room seven seconds after you arrive.

But this whole birthday Chipotle incident was really more like the time Son Number Two fainted. He was sitting up on one of our barstools a few years back, and I had his foot in my lap, working on popping a blister with a needle. As it turned out, the blister was really a wart of some kind, and shoving a needle through it apparently hurt a little. Or a lot.

He let out a little squeal, and I looked up from the non-blister to see him acting kinda weird. He was doing something funny with his eyes, and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why he was leaning back off the stool, like he was getting ready to do a set of ab crunches. I sat there holding his foot and wondering what his plan was when my wife, from across the room at a dead sprint, informed me he was in the process of fainting.

He hit the floor pretty hard, but I saved his foot.

Now, in my defense, I have only fainted twice that I know of, and I was unconscious both times, so I had no idea what it looked like.

Anyway, today, when I noticed that Son Number Three was gagging and sticking his fingers down his throat and possibly needed to throw up, I jumped into action. As I took another bite of my amazing Chipotle chicken burrito bowl, I searched frantically for someone else’s burrito bowl to position under his chin.

I mean, let’s not throw up all over this nice galvanized steel table. We don’t have enough napkins for that.

Just about the time my wife was trying to shove me out of the way to get to her youngest son, his oldest brother, who was seated on the other side of him from me, solved the dilemma with a modified Heimlich maneuver.

It turns out Son Number Three was actually choking on a wad of tortilla about the size of a golf ball. I would have thought he’d have learned to eat a burrito properly by the age of eleven, but today proved otherwise. Go figure.

I say “modified” Heimlich, because it was really more of a one-handed, single-shot Heimlich to the back. Basically, his older brother open-hand slapped him really hard on the spine and dislodged the offending tortilla wad. They must teach that kind of thing in school now. Modern education is wonderful.

Everything turned out just fine, but for some reason my wife still seems mad at me for not acting faster. I tried to explain my contemplative (almost laissez-faire, if you will) emergency management style to her again, but she just muttered something and walked off.

I think she might also still be a little mad about her burrito bowl.

Anyway, all’s well that ends well. Happy birthday, Number Three!

See you soon,


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