Monday, January 25, 2010

How my brother almost killed me

There are a number of sketchy stories from my childhood that involve the shenanigans to which my older brother got up to at my infantile expense. Most of these stories I know of only from the telling, having been too young to remember the actual events myself. One such story begins as follows: My brother, watching baby Andy sleep as I gently breathed in and out through my nose, thought it would be an interesting science experiment to determine what would happen if this airway was suddenly occluded.

Two fingers snaked towards my diminutive nasal passages, applying pressure on each side.


Then, a few moments later, an adorable gasp as my head tilted back and my mouth dropped open - breathing resumed. To this day I blame my nocturnal mouth-breathing and occasional snore on my brother (however unscientific that may be).

But in the Pediatrics unit of my Clinical Skills course, I learned a disturbing fact this week: newborns are obligate nasal breathers. That is, they cannot mouth-breathe. In fact, there is a pathological condition called choanal atresia whereby the openings between the nose and the pharynx at the back of one's mouth are closed at birth. This leaves the baby with no way to breath (being unable to breathe through its mouth) and is a medical emergency.

In other words, brother, had I been a wee bit younger... I could have died (or at least been severely handicapped). Gee, thanks.


Joyce said...

Awww what a touching story of brotherly love! 8D

Peter said...

Ah, but what you don't understand little brother is that, with his 5 1/2 extra years of accumulated wisdom, your older brother picked the perfect moment to psychologically imprint his dominance with out causing a significant disability - which would have wrecked all of the fun that we would have had in the many years afterwards.

Now is that precision, or is that precision?

Jerry said...

Basically, Peter wishes he had been your brother.