A scary situation occurred at my house this past weekend. During a family cookout in our backyard my daughter, Georgia, came and told me something was wrong with her eight year old brother, Max. My wife went to check on Max and he said he had a snap/ sugar pea pod stuck in his throat and couldn’t get it out. He was breathing okay, but it was clear that the obstruction was still there. After repeatedly trying to cough the pea out it seemed to be getting worse. I quickly called Dr. Darren Lisse, one of our Emergency Room physicians, and he advised me to bring him to Reston Hospital Center’s ER.
From the moment Max arrived in our ER, the team of nurses and doctors were fantastic. Dr. Peter Paganussi and Dr. Emily Lozano did their assessment and worked through options of how to best treat Max. They were comforting and focused on the issue at hand. I know the doctors and nurses are taught to be great clinicians, that is a learned skill and they are clearly people who did well in school and successful in the art and science of medicine. But bedside manner is something that is fundamentally in your DNA, your personality. It is innate, but it develops because you have been surrounded by family, friends and mentors that showed you how critical it is to make the human touch factor as important as clinical judgment. The care team at Reston immediately brought a level of comfort to a situation that could have gone in a totally different direction. After Max had x-rays it was determined that he likely aspirated the snap pea, meaning that it had dropped into his lung. If there is a foreign body in the lung it has to be removed or else significant infection and pneumonia will follow. Max had to be transferred to another hospital to be scoped by a pediatric surgeon, but by the next day the situation was resolved and it turned out his own body had kicked it out of his lung. After getting discharged from the hospital all Max could think about was how hungry he was and how much he wanted to see the movie The Avengers on opening weekend. I offered him a snap pea sandwich which made him laugh as he politely declined and we spent the afternoon together, father and son watching a great action movie. At the end of the day, the experience reminded me how fortunate we all are to have so many great doctors and staff at Reston. I am thankful for all that they did to manage my family crisis.