Rite of Passage: A Berry Up the Nose

Family Matters on 07.21.11
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Photo courtesy of Mimi Haddon/Getty Images

Recently my 2-and-a-half-year-old daughter went berry picking, which sounds like a delightful Sunday morning diversion. Except that we weren't on a family trip to connect with nature; my husband and I were with our daughter in the backyard staring at the rotting soffits on our house debating whether to replace or paint them when we noticed our little one was wearing a shocked look on her face. Which was followed by reddening cheeks and shrieks.

She had plucked a wooden-like berry from the stem of a heavenly bamboo plant and stuck it up her right nostril.

Two flashlight inquiries and five sinus sprays later, we determined that the berry was not to be dislodged so easily. Did I mention it was Sunday? Our options weren't great -- an urgent care center 45 minutes away or a children's emergency care center 10 minutes away. We chose the latter.

But before doing so, we made a last-ditch effort of sorts. We both took turns blowing into the left nostril of our daughter's nose, which she found very offensive. And who wouldn't? Imagine a mouth swooping in and docking onto your nostril, coffee breath filling up your nasal passages.  Nose-docking: That's the stuff of nightmares right there. More on that in a moment though. 

Losing Our Disney Virginity
From start to finish we logged three hours at the emergency room. Our daughter was entertained by the Disney Rapunzel movie, "Tangled," playing on the waiting room TV for most of that time. This, by the way, signaled a departure from our Garden of Eden existence wherein the terms "princess" and "Disney World" were but toothless foes loitering at the gates of childhood.

But we weren't clocking much of this at the time. We were once again trying to apply our mouth-to-nose method of dislodging the offending berry from our daughter's nose. This garnered a lot of raised eyebrows from other parents in the waiting room. There's a reason for that, we found out later.

I was reminded of my own adventures in nostril adornment, which culminated in a similar scenario when at the age of 4 my brother and I were dragged to the doctor to extract crafting beads from our noses. (I'm pretty sure that a good amount of you reading this also shoved something up your nose in what turns out to be a less celebrated rite of passage into kidhood.)

Nose-Docking: A Cautionary Tale
It's hardly the worst thing in the world though. Even if it pains you to see your kid being restrained by two nurses while the doctor inserts a tube into your kid's nose to suction out the foreign object, only to have to switch to an instrument that looks a miniature lacrosse racquet to finally dig out the offending berry. Our daughter's blood-curdling screams were Kryptonite to my husband -- that is until the object was scooped out of her nose and she brightly cooed, "I stuck that berry up my nose!"

The moral of the story is this though: Should your child force a foreign object up her honker, do not panic. Examine her nose to see if the particle could be easily plucked out, or if it's woefully lost to the upper regions of the nasal passage. Call your doctor. And by all means consult reputable Web sites for more information on how to proceed. But most of all, do not skim over the directions on how to extract the foreign object.

Otherwise, instead of dislodging the object by means of mouth-to-mouth while pressing one nasal passage closed in order to force air into the occluded nasal cavity and eject the object, you run the risk of eroding your credibility with your pediatrician as you valiantly describe how you tried to blow the berry out by giving your child mouth-to-nose.

And then there's that irrational nose-docking fear that your kid has to contend with for the rest of her life. 

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