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Chicken Shift 2011

This evening was more exciting than I planned.  Or wanted.   It started out innocuously enough, with Kelsey taking Zion to a basket ball game while I stayed home with the rest of the crew and got ready to go to our small group where we study the Bible and work cooperatively to prepare for storms, power outages, and other disasters.  Irony to follow.

As we ate our dinner – left overs from Friday night’s engagement bash – it was the usual chaos.  Zoe didn’t want it.  The twins wanted more.  Piper was just…vocal.  I was eating my boneless chicken breast when suddenly a piece went halfway down.  And stuck.  I swallowed.  I gagged.  I choked.

I looked at everyone and flatly announced “I can breathe…..”.

Collectively, they seemed to think this was a strange random fact to toss out there, but they were unaware that the chicken was lodged squarely in my throat, somewhere south of the windpipe off ramp and before the gastro-triangle.  Pardon me for using such technical terms, but I could not swallow the chicken.  But I could breathe.

I stood up and went to the bathroom, thinking perhaps I might…how can I say this delicately…exercise the technicolor yawn.  No dice.  It wasn’t going down and it wasn’t coming up.  We were at impasse, this chicken chunk and I, and I was growing more uncomfortable by the second.  About this time, my cell phone rang.  It was Kelsey.  I didn’t answer.  She called Jackson, who I heard tell her “Oh, he can breathe…”.

In a moment, I was on the phone with her.

She said “I’m calling 911.”

“Don’t do that….I can breathe.” I assured her.

“But you’re choking….”.

“Sort of, but I can breathe.”  As you can see, I was rather excited that I could breathe and it was quickly becoming my mantra.

We got off the phone and I began to experiment.

Could I swallow?  No.  Saliva seemed too thick to find it’s way around the chicken.

Could I drink water?  If I did, a trickle would work it’s way down the left of my throat.  The rest would puddle topside of the offending chicken until it came back up.

For two hours I bounced to try and get it to go down.  I hung over the edge of the tub to get it to come up.  I drank vinegar at one point, with no particular plan at all other than to make it do something.  It did nothing.

Kelsey came home about 6:45pm and put me in the Suburban.  We headed for Overland Park Regional Medical Center.  They processed us through quickly and put me in an ER room, where I met the nurse, Tricia, who gave me a goofy little gown.

Tricia then took a glance at my ears and asked, rather hesitantly, “Uh, any….other piercings?”.

“No ma’am.”

“Then put this gown on.” She said, somewhat relieved.

OK, moment of self disclosure here.  I really didn’t want to put this gown on. It wasn’t my color, looked as if it would fit three of me, and simply represented a whole lot of things I didn’t want to see happen to me any time soon.  Additionally, it hung to my knees but the problem seemed to be centered far north of my belt, so I went out on a limb and asked “Can I keep my pants on?”

Tricia tilted her head, considered it for a moment, and finally decided that it was best for all if I did.  God bless her.

Then she stuck an IV in my arm and explained what comes next.   “A GI doc will come and they’ll make you go night-night.” (Her actual words.) “Then they’ll go in and pull it out or push it down.  After that, we’ll decide if you need to spend the night.”

Uh, gulp, spend the night?  Except, I can’t gulp.  I can’t even swallow. I look like an extra from the Tractor Pull Channel, carrying around a white go-cup from a convenience store, spitting into it because if I swallow my own saliva, which by this time I am producing at a rate of 3 gallons a minute, I will chortle like a choked Chihuahua.

Tricia looked at Kelsey and I and said “Sorry you guys had to spend the evening here…”.

I told her “Oh actually, this is like date night.  We have seven kids at home.”

“What?  You were on a date and this happened?”

“No,” I explained.  “We were home taking care of our kids and this happened, now coming to the ER is the date….”.

This led to the obvious questions about how one finds themselves with seven children, and how adoption works, and yes, she’s thought about adoption, and all of a sudden, gulp.  I could gulp.  I could swallow.  The offending poultry and headed south or disappeared entirely.  I was fine and in fifteen minutes we were up and out of there.

Kelsey pronounced it all “Chicken shift.”

10 Responses

  1. this is a truly great ER story. glad you’re okay, and equally glad you wrote it down for the webs. 🙂

  2. Guess you had to choke so the nurse would get taught about adoption. Way to take one for the team!

  3. Boy, God sure went out of His way to talk to Tricia about adoption.

  4. Dude, the point of the whole trip. Did you at least give the nurse a Zoe foundation pamphlet?

  5. Chew your chicken.

  6. Shift happens. Glad your ok! 🙂

  7. Glad the nurse didn’t take one look at you and blurt out: “NOT ON MY SHIFT!”

    Better hope one of Chick-fil-a’s competitors doesn’t get a hold of this story. The SHIFT will certainly hit the fan…

  8. this is hilarious. the comments are almost as hilarious. i will have to spread the saying here in ca. you made my night. especially with my imagining you explaining to the nurse how it was a date to go to the er (we have 4 boys 6 and under, we understand!). great blog!

  9. Only RB coulda tolda story with such flare! Yeah God! Yeah Adoption!

  10. hey… heard about the scope. i had one when I was about your age- same thing happened a couple times with small pieces of food. scary. turned out to be a stricture. the scope widened it and i haven’t had another problem for years.
    turns out it was acid reflux caused by too much coffee, diet soda, and stress. praying for quick and total healing for you and peace for your family.

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