I Deal With a Child's Accidental Poisoning So You Don't Have To

>> Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I almost lost him.

If he hadn't taken the whole small bottle of Tylenol my teenage daughter was taking to school the next day (so she could help with pain from her tonsillectomy last week), taken them all so this his body reacted that night by throwing up, I might never have known anything was wrong until it was too late.

If I hadn't been worried when he threw up the second time that there was something more wrong with him than just stomach flu or eating something he shouldn't have (in a benign way - he's been known to bite candles and foam toys), I wouldn't have bothered Lee to keep looking. We were both tired and ready for bed, but it bothered me.

If the white powder Lee saw in the first purge hadn't made Lee wander into my daughter's bathroom and find the empty pill bottle (with the "child-proof" cap off) we had just filled that morning, I might never have suspected what he'd done until it was too late.

If I wasn't determined to be safe, I might not have gone immediately to the emergency room. Lee fretted, felt like it was unlikely Alex'd had enough to be dangerous since they tasted nasty or that it wasn't really the pills making him ill, told me I was overreacting and there was nothing they could do even if he had been poisoned. I took him anyway. A friend in college managed to permanently damage his liver because he took 12 (not the 30+ Alex took) and didn't get treatment. I knew how important it was to act quickly. (Note, that Lee never found any more pills and realized soon after I left with Alex to the hospital that Alex had taken them all. He regretted his gut let-nature-take-its-course thinking he applies to himself and was grateful I ignored him.)

If it wasn't for modern medicine that has an "antidote" that can help protect the liver (what acetaminophen can really damage) that can be given intravenously, going to the doctor might not have saved him. But the ER started him right away, as soon as they saw his sky-high blood levels and we were both shipped off to the city's Children Hospital.

Alex, throwing up, in pain, bewildered, in strange environs, over-tired (he didn't get to sleep until after 5 am), stuck with needles, became enraged, terrified, and fought the doctors, nurses and myself, trying to rip out then bite out his own IV. When we woke up after finally getting to sleep at 5 am, he was much his own self and, because of the early infusion of "antidote" his blood level of tylenol dropped by 4/5 in a matter of hours. Early results on his liver are promising, though we'll know for sure after more tests on Friday. Hopefully, the damage to his liver, if any, was minimal.

So, if you were wondering where I was the past few days, now you know. Alex is currently home and doing apparently fine. If there's a lesson here, it's that no one can prevent all accidents, even with child-proof cupboards and locking medicine cabinets. Accidents can and do happen and, sometimes, serendipity works with you...and sometimes it doesn't. Do the best you can, always try, and be grateful, be very very grateful when things work out alright.

I know what I'm grateful for...

P.S. My non-talking son has picked up new flirting techniques. He'd started to blow kisses (he held my hand and blew kisses at me most of the hospital stay when he wasn't trying to rip out IVs). He particularly liked one of the nurses particularly and not only took her hand but kissed the fingertips (freshly gloved fingertips, I might add). That's a new one.


  • Roy

    Yikes! Thank goodness you got right on it! I'm glad to hear Alex is doing fine.

  • The Mother

    Oh, crap. Whenever something bad happens to my kids I always feel like it's my fault, even though it isn't, and couldn't possibly be.

    I'm so glad he's alright.

  • Kathy

    Oh, Stephanie. How scary. We have instincts for a reason. I'm glad you listened to yours. What a sweet little boy. I'm so happy this turned out OK.

  • Jeff King

    Glad it turned out ok... hope it doesn't happen again.

    best of luck

  • Boris Legradic

    Good grief - so happy for you that this turned out well, and that your boy is all right!
    Good thing you worried so much - the price of not going to the hospital in a case like this is just too high to chance it, even if you are mostly sure that it is nothing, which you of course weren't to start with.
    I don't know how often I have sat in the hospital, waiting for an X-ray of what I was pretty sure was only a stretched tendon... but you have to go anyway, in case it isn't.
    I do hope the tests on Friday will go well,
    all the best,

  • Project Savior

    Glad everything turned out well.

  • JD at I Do Things

    Oh, my gosh. Thank goodness everything aligned in such a way that you got him to the ER as quickly as possible. I'm praying that everything turns out fine and he has no lasting damage.

    All the photos are beautiful (how could they not be -- he's such a gorgeous kid!) but that one of you and Alex is just breathtaking.

  • Quadmama

    I'm so sorry you had to go through that... I can't imagine how scared YOU were. I'm glad Alex is feeling better.

  • Phyl

    Oh honey, I'm so glad you got him in there in time and that they were able to act and do what was necessary.

    I'll be hoping fervently that everything worked so well that he'll be without after-effects and his health will be fine after this.

    You're the bestest mom, Stephanie.

  • Aron Sora

    I really hope your son is ok. You are really lucky that the antidote was developed, I remember in health class sophomore year of high school that if someone attempted suicide by Tylenol, saving them was was hopeless because there was nothing anyone could do. I'm glad that something was developed. You have very sharp instincts, very few people would see that coming.

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