I had the kids to myself. My husband was away (all good adventures happen when the husband is away).
We'd had a busy day and we decided that the best way to finish it off would be with a movie night. Not just any movie night. One with popcorn!
So I popped some popcorn, the kids put on their PJ's, and I put the little Batman couch at the foot of our bed so the kids weren't actually eating popcorn in the bed (I'm no fool). At some point, Cole finished his bowl of popcorn and crawled up onto the bed with me. I couldn't exactly see what Amelia was doing down there on the floor. I wasn't worried. She was done the popcorn. (The risk of choking on the popcorn decreases significantly when the popcorn is no longer being consumed).
Then suddenly Amelia began to whine and she declared in her very high pitched, almost accusatory tone, "There's a popcorn in my nose!"
Dear god. She was right. There was an unpopped kernel up her nose. Because...well... she'd put it there. If I think back, I do recall just before her declaration of the nostril situation that she'd commented on how popcorn smells. I really, really wished in this moment that I'd paid closer attention to that seemingly innocuous comment.
I grabbed the tweezers off my dresser, tilted her head back and took a good look. There was a shiny, golden popcorn kernel in her left nostril. I reached up with the tweezers, but the kernel jumped out of reach. Each time I tried, it would slip further and further out of reach. I wondered where that dark cavern led to. I wondered if the kernel could get stuck behind her eye. I'm a Science teacher, I'm supposed to know these things aren't possible. But when your kid has popcorn in her nose, you kind of lose your grip on logic.
"Cole," I shouted, "Get your shoes on."
"Because there's a popcorn kernel in your sister's nose."
The kids went downstairs. They put on their boots. I remembered the Health Cards. I remembered my purse. I even stuffed the tweezers in my pocket (in case the line up was fourteen hours long or something crazy, I could give the tweezers another go). I lost Mommy points for forgetting to put coats on the kids, but I did remember the ipad. If you've ever been at Emerg with children, you'll know that the ipad is WAAAAAAAAY more important than the coats anyway.
We arrived at the hospital. Somewhere in the melee of triage, I realized I'd dropped the parking ticket. I considered leaving the kids there with sick strangers, but then thought how bad that would look, so I packed them back up and we walked through the dark parking lot til we found our car and there on the pavement next to my driver's side door was the parking ticket.
We went back inside. The nurse asked if Amelia had visited any foreign countries lately. She took her temperature and her blood oxygen level. Just as she was asking when Amelia had last voided her bladder, I whispered, "She just stuck a popcorn kernel up her nose." The nurse grinned and said, "My younger brother used to stick EVERYTHING up his nose."
We waited another three hours there at the hospital. The kids watched a movie on the ipad. At one point a very graphic, gory t.v. show came on in the waiting room. So I had to move the kids to a different seat. Then finally, we were admitted to the Non-Life-Threatening-but-Still-Kinda-Bad area and a doctor took a look in Amelia's nose. He had a headlamp on and a long plastic stick with a loop on the end. He tried to hook the kernel but instead he chased it WAY up there. I began to hyperventilate.
He said he was going to get a more powerful light. I think he went to consult with other physicians about the best way to get the popcorn out short of surgery.
When he came back, he was rolling a very large machine which ended up just being another light. He declared that we were going to try some pressure difference. I nodded, "Yes, that sounds good." At this point I thought the machine might just be a fancy vacuum to suck the kernel out. Kind of like the one they use to birth stubborn babies.
Then he told me the plan. I was to hold Amelia, tell her I was going to give her a big kiss, then plug her other nostril and blow in her mouth (all CPR-like). So I did. And she yelled at me! Boy was she mad. And nothing came out. I leaned over again and blew hard. She got really mad this time. The doctor looked in her with the light and said, "Where did it GO?" This made me very, very worried. I looked at the nurse who said, "No, no, that's good. She either swallowed it or... it came out and we didn't see."
At that moment, Amelia sat up and there on the stretcher was the popcorn kernel.
I burst into tears of relief.
We left the hospital discussing how it's not a good idea to put stuff in our noses. I stopped at the exit door to disinfect our hands. I squirted the antiseptic gel into my hands and reached for Amelia's. She had her hand in a tight ball. I reached down and pulled her fingers back only to discover... the popcorn kernel.