If you did not know, but some people can not eat just anything. I don’t just mean you can have that favorite ice cream because you’re on some diet. Some can’t eat solid foods at all and live for years with a tube in their stomachs. The only thing they can have is a liquid form of nutrient that’s the color of a light brown crayon. And smells like a really bad baby formula. Some patients that can’t eat solid foods frequently have an issue with swallowing anything, even water.
Instead of food particles or liquids going to the stomach when they swallow, the little flap, or the medical term is epiglottis, that closes off the lungs or windpipes at the back of the tongue is not working properly and everything they eat goes into their lungs. Which causes pneumonia among other things. Now their are therapies that specifically specialize in using therapy to try to improve the function of the epiglottis, I have seen some therapists do almost miracles when it comes to swallowing. Which is amazing in my opinion.
Now my second year as a nurse I was working in a long term care facility and it wasn’t a bad place. Had a patient that had an issue with her swallowing but she also had dementia. She was very sweet but very mischievous at the same time. If she ate anything that wasn’t puréed she would choke to the point of turning blue. One morning she was being pushed to the dinning room by a new aide, who didn’t know she could not roll by a breakfast tray. The reason she couldn’t even go by a tray was because she would take whatever was off it and shove it in her mouth before you could say ‘speed demon’. All she would say over and over , “Please just get me a hamburger!” She was determined to eat what she wants.
Well this new aide, she really didn’t know. The patient rolled by that breakfast tray, picked up a pancake off the plate, and shoved it in her mouth. And 10 seconds later I was trying to do the Heimlich maneuver while she was in her wheelchair. I probably weight 140 pounds at that time and she was probably 320. But I got the piece of food out of her throat before I had to start CPR.
The new girl learned a lesson. Then the next morning the patient was late getting to the dinning room for breakfast and it was like rolling her thru a mine field. Because of how fast she was and then her table seat was on the other side of the dinning room it was running an obstacle course. So you had to roll her past fifteen damn trays to get to her seat. It was inevitable when she did it again, and I was doing the Heimlich Maneuver again. This time I couldn’t get the food out, had to start CPR. Which means I had to get her out the wheelchair and onto the floor. It’s amazing how much you can lift when it’s really necessary.
The paramedics showed up about ten minutes later to her being completely blue. The paramedics transported her just in time, but She was back in her room by that afternoon. Needless to say her seat at the other end of the dinning room was moved. But I swear I think I did the Heimlich on her at least 10 times before I changed jobs. I can still hear her saying, “Just get me a hamburger!”
ALL NAMES AND THE TRAITS OF ANYONE IN THE STORY, “EATING WHAT SHE WANTS” OR ANY STORY ON THAT-NURSE-PATTY.COM HAVE BEEN CHANGED TO PROTECT THE RIGHTS AND PRIVACY OF ALL THAT ARE INVOLVED.