Yesterday, the 6yr old had a close call. To be honest, and without trying to sound dramatic, it's the closest I've ever come to thinking I might lose a child.
Hubby and I took the 6yr old and 8yr old ice skating yesterday. Their first time. Both Hubby and I hadn't been since our youth. As soon as we got there, we wondered what the hell we'd gotten ourselves in to? I mean, really, falling on the ice is hard enough when you're 14, but when you're nearing 40? Potentially disastrous!
My first time around the rink I was as nervous as anything, and incredibly hesitant. I skated at a snail's pace - convinced I'd spend most of the next few hours doing the same thing.
The boys took a quick lesson. As they attempted to move themselves across the ice, one hand holding firmly on to the top of the wall surrounding the ice rink, I worried about them falling. But both boys are not particularly daring. They treaded carefully. Not like another young boy in their class, who, it seemed, had little, to no, coordination whatsoever - or fear - and was flat out on the ice more than what he was attempting to skate on it. Still, kudos to him for getting straight back up and giving it another go.
But as the lesson progressed, so did our boys. I took a few more laps myself, and started to feel much more confident. The plan was for Hubby and I to take the kids around the rink a few times after their lesson before heading home. The lesson was wrapping up with a chair racing relay. One child sat on the chair (the 6yr old), and one pushed the chair, skating along the ice (the 8yr old). The treat for doing well? A lolly.
Both boys (just like the other participants) received a lolly, which we made them save until after the hot chips we bought (to help warm them both up, and Hubby and I as well). Whilst the boys finished up their food, I went for another lap of the rink. As I returned, I leaned over the wall to say hello to my family, and then I noticed Hubby holding the 6yr old's head, concern written all over his face. "What's wrong?" I asked.
"The lolly is stuck," Hubby replied. He was panicking. I looked at the 6yr old. He was trying to cough.
Now, as a rule, I don't usually panic when the kids hurt themselves. I keep quite a clear head, and I don't presume the worst. Ever. Perhaps I've seen too many "false alarms" over the years. Or rather, situations that end up not being as bad as what they could have been. There's that good old saying, "Boys will be boys," and certainly, I've found that to be true. Regular readers here know that's it not overly unusual for us to visit a hospital with one of our boys in tow on occasion. Like the time the 8yr old was knocked out after a fall. And the time we thought the 3yr old had swallowed a piece of burst balloon when we found him throwing up and pieces of the balloon surrounding him (it turned out to be a gastro bug). Then there was the fall on the clothes airer that ended with the 3yr old in hospital getting 4-5 stitches. However, in the past, these situations have all ended well, and even though we were concerned for their health at the time, we also kind of knew they'd be ok.
Not this time.
When I checked the 6yr old's face, I realised this wasn't one of those false alarms. He was struggling to free the lolly from his throat. Really struggling.
It was at that point that Hubby lifted him up and placed the 6yr old semi upside down. The 8yr old was now distressed. He was crying, "Oh no! Oh no!" calling his brother's name. I raced off the ice, with not a hint of concern that I may fall, and ran towards them, skates on and all. The 6yr old was coughing, which was a good sign, but Hubby hesitated to whack his back, rubbing it instead. (And I would have done the same. The thought usually is to not pound their back if they're coughing, as whatever's stuck might make its own way out, and hitting their back might actually lodge whatever's stuck further down. However, if they don't cough, and can't get their breath, then you should try a whack on the back.)
At this stage, the 6yr old stopped coughing, and looked as though he may just throw up the lolly. He was going red, and unfortunately, although some saliva seeped out of his mouth, the lolly didn't come with it. It was then that Hubby called for me to get help.
Eventually, we had staff members surrounding us. The 6yr old didn't seem to be coughing as much now. He was still struggling. The Manager ended up taking the him and did what I was about to do myself. He held him semi upside down, and began to pound his back.
It was at this point that a few things happened.
1. An elderly lady approached and suggested we try and dig the lolly out from his throat with our fingers. (Unless you've exhausted all other possibilities, my understanding is that this is not a great option. You could push the object even further down, blocking the windpipe.)
2. A guy, standing on the ice rink, leaning over the wall, calmly asked us what was wrong? My immediate thought was that he was a doctor or something, and was perhaps about to advise what else we could do, or better still, get in and help. "He's choking on a lolly," I replied hurriedly, expecting that by announcing that, the man would jump over the wall and save our child. Instead, he just said, "Oh." And that was it. THAT. WAS. IT. He had nothing! Zip. Na-da. He was just being damn NOSY! (Yes, I was angry!)
3. I suddenly thought that perhaps I was about to lose my son.
I bent down to check his face again, rubbing his back furiously, then hitting it, trying to free the lolly. It was then he started saying, "I'm ok. I'm ok."
"He said he's ok!" I called out, so that the Manager would release him. The 6yr old was lifted upright again. His face was red. His eyes were red and watery. He put his hand to his throat. "I can still feel it," he said, referring to the lolly. Obviously, he was feeling the effect the lolly had had on his throat. "Can you breath ok?" I asked. "I think so," he whispered.
Hubby asked a staff member if she could please fetch some warm water, in hopes that it would break down the remainder of the lolly. He had the 6yr old drink two cups of it.
And then it was over. He was fine. And I was, to say the least, relieved. And so thankful. And trying not to think of how differently this could have all ended.
It's not that I haven't thought about it before. A day can start off just like any other day. We make plans and assume we'll follow them through, and get through the day as best we can before it's time to fall in to bed that night, in preparation for getting up the next day and doing it all over again. We never assume something so awful could happen, that could change not only our day, but our life. Forever. We know it's possible, but it's almost always the furthest thing from our minds. (Mostly.)
I haven't been able to stop thinking about how fortunate Hubby and I are that yesterday continued to be just like any other day, even after "the incident". So thankful.
I'm just so glad that I am at home, typing this post ready for tomorrow (Wed), the 6yr old and his brothers tucked safely in to bed. Our lives still intact. So very thankful.
Falling on the ice, it seems, was the least of our concerns.