Chapter 6 Continued
Another difficulty we faced with
Raun was his inability to eat solid foods. At each
meal, we would attempt to teach him how to chew and,
hopefully, convert his baby-food diet into a more
well-rounded meal with solid foods. One night, he
grabbed a handful of French fried potatoes from a
bowl and shoved them into his mouth. A comic image
with swollen cheeks and the amused look of a clown.
Before we had a chance to dislodge the excess food
from his bulging mouth, he swallowed part of it without
chewing. He looked up at me, surprised, and gasped.
Within seconds, he was in trouble.
The food stuck in his windpipe, cutting
off his ability to breathe. He began to struggle desperately,
poking his fingers into his neck. His eyes opened
wide, pushing outward from his head as if he were
trying to grab air through his vision. We picked up
his arms and slapped his back, then shook his entire
body. What we did had no impact.
He still could not get any air. He
started to shake his arms, then looked at me as if
pleading for help and, yet, at the same time, observing
events that had slipped beyond his control. I picked
him out of his chair, opened his mouth, and searched
his throat for the food with my fingers. No use. I
turned him upside down and began shaking him. Raun
struggled more now. His body jerked spasmodically.
I slapped his back, then hit his buttocks. Impossible.
An every-evening occurrence had quickly assumed the
proportions of an unthinkable nightmare. All present
had jumped out of their seats. I could see all the
rush of movement in my peripheral vision as I searched
desperately for something else to do. Shock the digestive
track. Send a ripple through the system that would
make him vomit. I handed Raun to Samahria, telling
her to keep him upside-down. With one hand, I found
the soft part in his upper abdomen just below the
rib cage and with the palm of my other hand slammed
upward into that section of his body. He emitted a
harsh grunt as the potatoes and other contents in
his stomach tumbled to the floor. We had improvised
a maneuver that saved our child. Years later, a physician
would design a similar procedure to help choking victims.
My hands began to shake as I looked
at Samahria's numb expression. She held her son close
to her. Raun coughed, then recovered quickly. He looked
at us with great relief His eyes glistened as he glanced
at us with an expression that seemed to say, "Thanks."
Short panting breaths dominated my
body as my ribs strained under the constant and rapid
pounding of my heart. Samahria and I gaped at each
other through the tension in our eyes. Her face and
lips had turned ghostly white, but she managed to
squeeze out a smile of relief. I began to laugh. Raun
was still here! He had survived. We had survived.
God had given us another day - another day to try
to reach our special child.
We decided in that moment to initiate
immediately a crash effort to teach Raun how to consume
solid foods. We would first establish eye contact,
then have him watch us insert food into our mouths,
chew it exaggeratedly, and then swallow it. We repeated
this over and over and over again. Finally, Samahria
placed soft but solid food into his mouth. For the
first few moments, he just let it sit there on his
tongue, then let it fall out of his mouth. We modeled
a possible course of action for him by chewing the
same food robustly in our own mouths. Unfortunately,
he did not take our cues. Samahria talked to him as
she manipulated his jaw with her hands, opening and
closing his bottom set of teeth against his upper
set as a way to teach him how to ready food for consumption.
We repeated this exercise diligently at every meal.
Samahria and I took turns working his jaw. Every so
often, we could feel the muscles of his jaw work.
It took forty-two meals over a period of two weeks
before we noted real progress. Finally, our enigmatic
son started to chew, Hurrah! Hurrah!
6 Continued »»