Most parents are aware of obvious choking hazards like grapes and hot dogs, but there's another one that can be just as dangerous yet is often overlooked — popcorn.
Nicole Johnson Goddard, a mother of three, found this out following a terrifying ordeal that sent her toddler son into emergency surgery to save his life. Thankfully, little Nash is recovering, but it prompted Nicole to share what happened on Facebook as a warning to other parents to think twice before giving their young kids popcorn as a snack.
Her family was munching on some during a typical weekend movie night, and although Nash had a "small choking episode," he seemed fine. The next day, things took a notable turn for the worse.
"He had a fever, so I gave him Motrin and put him to bed," she wrote. "A very long night with him and then his breathing looked a little labored to me and he just didn't feel good. I called my pediatrician immediately."
"I wrote this as an eye-opener for people to see how something that you think is fine can quickly turn into something bad."
After a chest x-ray and a bronchoscopy, the doctors discovered something far worse than a lingering cold. "He had aspirated popcorn into his lungs when he choked," she said. "The body recognized it as a foreign object and put puss pockets around it. All the inflammation caused him to develop pneumonia in his left lung."
He went in for surgery, and the doctor removed six pieces of popcorn from the boy's lungs, even though there was likely more that wasn't visible due to inflammation. They had to repeat the procedure two days later.
"It was a an up-and-down rollercoaster," Nicole recalled. "Once again, my poor guy had to be put under and rolled off to surgery. The doctor met us when it was over and said the procedure was successful and that he got the last piece out. Nash was a rock star."
She decided to share the experience because it was all to do with popcorn, which "is eaten on a regular basis in our home," as it is in many others.
"I got a lecture on how popcorn isn't supposed to be given to anyone under five years old," she admitted.
And like many parents of multiple kids, she acknowledged that she used "the excuse that he's our third child" and hadn't been as diligent about paying "close attention to the dos and don'ts as we did with our first."
But now, she won't overlook it again. "I wrote this as an eye-opener for people to see how something that you think is fine can quickly turn into something bad," she said, adding that she's thankful she trusted her intuition that her son was in danger. "Always trust your gut because it's right!"