HAMMOND - Chris Broadwater, a candidate for a seat in the state House of Representatives, and his family had plans for a low-key election night Oct. 22.
Friends and family were coming over to watch the returns and discuss the results in Broadwater’s District 86 race along with other races in the parish and state.
“We didn’t have a big party planned,” his wife, Hilaria Broadwater, said last week. “But we had food and drinks ready for how many ever showed up.”
But when the returns began rolling in, Broadwater was unconscious in a hospital. Anaesthetized, actually, and Hilaria Broadwater was also in the hospital.
The couple’s hectic election day actually began Friday, the day before the election.
Chris Broadwater rushed home to grab a bite to eat before he headed out to do some last-minute campaigning at the Loranger-Independence football game.
He heated up some chicken wings that he had grilled the night before.
But after eating the wings, Broadwater said, something just didn’t feel right.
“I felt a little something in my throat,” he said. “About two hours later, I felt a sharp stick in my throat. It felt like a razor.”
The more he talked, the worse the pain became, Broadwater said. The pain became so bad Broadwater gathered up his wife, who was 37 weeks pregnant, and their two daughters and headed home.
Once at home, Broadwater drank some hot coffee, which, he said, seemed to ease the pain.
Saturday, he said, the pain was still there, and his wife encouraged him to go to the doctor.
“The doctor told me that everybody thinks they have a chicken bone stuck in their throat,” Chris Broadwater said. “But nobody does.”
The doctor performed an X-ray just to be sure, Chris Broadwater said.
“ ?You are the first person to actually have a chicken bone stuck in your throat,’ “ Broadwater said the doctor told him.
The candidate said he wanted to wait until Monday before getting the bone removed, but his wife disagreed and called a family friend who is a doctor.
“He told her to get me immediately to the emergency room,” Chris Broadwater said.
And the emergency room doctor didn’t mince words.
“You have a foreign object laid across your vocal chords,” the emergency room doctor told him.
The doctor told a nurse to prepare an operating room and told Broadwater to call his wife and tell her that he was going into surgery.
And then things got crazier.
Broadwater was put under general anesthesia between 2 p.m. and 2:30 p.m., he said.
It was supposed to be a brief, routine procedure, Hilaria Broadwater said.
But when doctors went to remove the object, they couldn’t find it, Chris Broadwater said.
They looked all over, including in his lungs and throughout his esophagus, and still couldn’t find the chicken bone, he said.
To find the missing bone, Broadwater had to be taken out of the operating room for a CAT scan.
“At that point, I am having contractions, but they are not too regular,” Hilaria Broadwater said. “I am guzzling water, trying to make this stop.”
The object was finally located on the CAT scan: it was lodged behind one of Broadwater’s tonsils.
And the “chicken bone” turned out to be a bristle from the wire brush that Broadwater used to clean his grill. It had somehow fallen off the brush and attached to one of the chicken wings Broadwater had grilled, he said.
When Chris Broadwater came out of surgery, a nurse asked his wife if she wanted to go see him in the recovery room.
“I was having contractions like every four minutes,” Hilaria Broadwater said. “I told them I didn’t think I could make it and why.”
One of Chris Broadwater’s first memories after he awoke from the anesthesia was a nurse coming into the room.
“ ?Can you sit in a wheelchair?’ “ Broadwater said the nurse asked him. “ ?Your wife is going into labor.’ “
Broadwater was wheeled down one floor, and he arrived in his wife’s room just in time to witness the birth of the couple’s fourth daughter, Ruby Jane, who came in at 4 pounds, 13 ounces, Broadwater said.
He also learned he was also the leading in his race, and would face fellow Republican George Holton in a runoff, he said.
Chris Broadwater was released from the hospital Oct. 23, and Hilaria Broadwater and little Ruby Jane came home a day later.
All are healthy and doing well, the couple said. But the two said they are hoping that Nov. 19 - the day of the runoff - is a little more routine.
“Anything is calmer than what it was,” he said.