Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Fishy Tale

I debated with myself whether or not I ought to share this tragically ironic vignette. With the encouragement of Oana and Martha, who heartily insisted that this would make a nice parable for the blog, I acquiesced.

A few weeks ago, Martha had asked me to research and write a press release on whether or not there were a higher number of choking incidents during the Lenten season due to a supposed increase in fish consumption. A veteran fish eater and a fairly sensible adult, I could not imagine choking on my food. Baffled by the request, I fished around all over the World Wide Web to find statistics on hazardous foods. Indeed, fishbones where frequently mentioned along with the top ten most common edible choking culprits in children: hot dogs, candy, popcorn, peanuts/nuts, carrots, grapes, meat, apples, cookies, and peanut butter. Often times, kids have not learned how to chew their food properly. 

Consequently, I found that this was yet another important reason why knowing CPR and basic first aid is just so important. My research showed adults are just susceptible to choking hazards as children. And should a choking incident persist, there is little time to react when the victim loses consciousness. Scary, I thought, but what were the odds of this happening to me? Little did I know that a few days AFTER Lent was over, I would be in the emergency room “choking” on irony. 

Last week, I was hungry and in quite a rush when I sampled a curious Filipino fish dish that was laying out on the table. The first few bites were fine enough, but something went terribly wrong soon thereafter. To say the least, the fishbone was not going down very smoothly. I thought that if I continued to swallow, it would eventually pass, right? WRONG. It the irritation in my throat became more persistent and acute. My mother tried giving me a banana. The banana did not work for me either, Maria! Perhaps a scoop of rice? That did not work either. Water? No. I was able to breathe and talk, but only with increasing discomfort. 

Panicky over the lessons learned in writing that press release, I feared that the rest might come true! What if it led to choking? Then, there would only be little time to respond with CPR. Was my family prepared? My sister did not know CPR, but thankfully, my mother is a nurse. We went to her hospital’s ER to get this fishy problem squared away. Luckily, it did not escalate to where I was truly choking, but it was still uncomfortable. While swearing off fish for the time being may not be the most rational idea, I am very excited to be taking a first aid/CPR/AED course with my sister next week.

Mishaps happen, but being prepared is no accident. Take a class and be aware of the common foods and household objects that may be potentially hazardous to your family.

Christina Ponsaran, Marketing and Communications Intern

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