Monday, November 28, 2005

Nothing to See Here

Spoiler: At the end of this anecdote, Nutmeg is just fine.

We took Nutmeg to the emergency room tonight. Our 19-month streak of never having to take her to a doctor except for a scheduled check-up is broken.

It was actually very low-key. We weren't at all panicked. At about 9:30 this morning, Epu was cooking breakfast and I was here at the computer. Nutmeg was in the kitchen too. She got quiet for a few minutes, and instead of being very, very suspicious as we should have been, Epu and I were both glad she'd quit whining and was letting us alone for a few minutes. Suddenly I heard Epu shout, "No!" and "How long have you been eating that?"

Obviously, it was time for me to get my butt in the kitchen. By that time, Epu had already confiscated the infant Tylenol drops. He told me Nutmeg had been sitting there dipping the dropper into the bottle and sucking out the medicine. She does like the taste of Tylenol, and asks for it frequently by name. Epu told me that you have to turn the cap hard, until it clicks, to close the child safety lock on the cap. Thanks for the timely heads up, Epu! Actually, I have no idea which one of us last closed the bottle. I had brought it out to the living room earlier that morning, when Nutmeg had been crying and sticking her hands in her mouth, where her canine teeth are making their painful arrival. But -- fortunately -- she turned down the Tylenol at that point. I left it on the wooden box that serves us as an end table, and apparently later she decided to help herself.
She cried because Epu had yelled at her, then she calmed down. I looked at the bottle and saw there was a little left. There hadn't been that much left to begin with, and I knew that a double dose or so of infant Tylenol won't do any harm, so I figured, no big deal.

But then, in the middle of her nap, at around 1:30 p.m., we heard Nutmeg coughing, then crying, and went in to see she had barfed all over her crib sheet. We got her out and I held her on my lap in bed for an hour or so as she alternately cried and heaved. To tell the truth, I still wasn't concerned. I figured, if she got a little too much Tylenol, it's out now. Eventually she fell back asleep and I propped her up on pillows and left her sleeping on the bed while I worked on my grad school submission, just outside the bedroom door. Occasionally she woke up and barfed a little bit more. She looked so pale, sleeping with her head on our pillows, and a little agitated in her sleep. I started to wonder if I should be worried. I did some Google searches and read that she would need something like 58 milligrams per kilogram of body weight to pose a problem. She weighs about 10 kilos, which meant, I figured, she would have to drink nearly 600 mg for it to be considered risky. That's nearly 8 droppersful. I was pretty sure she wouldn't have the coordination and speed to squeeze out 8 droppersful and feed them to herself within the few minutes no one was looking at her. Besides, the bottle had been almost empty, and there probably hadn't been 8 droppersful in there.

Still, I read a few Internet anecdotes about children who seemed ok and then died from severe liver damage a week later. The early symptoms? Nausea and vomiting. I decided to call the medical advice line at her pediatrician's office, even though I knew, with a sinking feeling, that the doctor would just tell us to go to the emergency room, to be safe, because no one wants the liability of being the doctor who told some parent not to take a kid to the emergency room. And who wants to go to that place at the end of a FOUR-DAY WEEKEND? I was sure it would be full to the gills with people who had been trying to wait until their doctors' offices opened Monday morning but just coudln't make it.

And yes, the doctor on call said that she probably hadn't taken enough to worry about, but since I coudln't be sure how much she had taken, we had better go in. But she told us to call poison control first to see what they thought. Poison control talked to me for a long time, having me do such things as refilling the Tylenol bottle to where I thought it was last time I used some, then measuring it out into a half teaspoon. Generously, I thought she could have gotten 2 and a half teaspoons. She told me to go in, although she also casually mentioned that the antidote was only effective if given within 6 hours of the overdose. At this point it was about 4:30 p.m., so the 6-hour window had just ended.

Great, Epu and I told each other as we lifted our peacefully sleeping baby out of bed and carried her to the car. Way to go, parents. Why not just procrastinate life-saving medical attention for your only child?

Still, we drove to the hospital pretty calmly, remembering taking the same drive a year and a half ago to give birth. And the people at the emergency room, although they got us right into triage, took their time too. I thought about having a little tantrum, asking them if they knew we were almost -- or maybe actually -- too late to administer an antidote. But I just really didn't buy that Nutmeg had OD'd on this stuff. We were just here to get a blood test so we could go home and relax.

We talked to a triage nurse, then an ER nurse, then a resident, all of whom thought we had no reason to even do the test. I told them all -- some of them, repeatedly -- that Nutmeg had taken infant Tylenol drops, which are more concentrated than children's drops. The resident left and said she would have to "present us to the attending" before sending us home. Then she came back a few minutes later and said she had gotten a fax about us from Poison Control. See, she didn't realize we were talking about infant drops. And now she thought we should test the level of the drug in Nutmeg's blood.

Nutmeg cried every second that any medical person was in the room, periodically saying, "All done!" and "Wanna go out other door," pointing in the direction from which we had come in. And of course, "Go home!" When they left, she'd settle down and lie on one of our chests lethargically, or nurse.

The nurse had a hard time getting enough blood out of Nutmeg's heel, as I held down her arms and Epu held down her legs. I told her nearly the entire story of "Curious George Flies a Kite." Poor kid, when you've been puking all afternoon, I guess your blood doesn't flow so freely.

Then we hung out for an hour, maybe an hour and a half, waiting for test results. I was glad we weren't leaving without getting the test. Yet I was feeling chagrined by the doctor changing her mind about whether the test was necessary. Now, I guessed, it would be OK to worry a little. Nutmeg was so adorable, even crying, and especially when she sat up on Epu's lap in the middle of everything and wanly sang the ABCs. Had we ruined everything with our carelessness? We were obviously unworthy.

Finally, at around 7 p.m., the resident came back with a grayhaired doctor, and they were laughing. They grinned at me as they came in, and I knew everything was fine. They said Nutmeg's Tylenol level was "less than 1," whatever that means, and they joked that maybe she had only licked the bottle. The vomiting was probably just a coincidence, which I also suspected, because we went over to friends' house last night and these friends have been suffering from the stomach flu recently.

"This was a false alarm -- but a good lesson," the grayhaired doctor told us.

I bowed my head a little. "Yeah, I know."

To tell the truth, the whole episode was a little too painless. I feel like we should have suffered more. Not that something more should have happened to poor Nutmeg, who just woke up in bed and puked again and necessitated one of those lovely late night sheet changes. Everyone was just so nice to us at the ER, it was just not enough of an inconvenience, to tell you the truth. I should have been fined, or sent to parenting classes, or something.

Or at least Epu should be fined. He's the one who taught her -- over my strenuous objections -- to unscrew caps. Ah, that feels better. Move on, people -- there is no negligent mother to see here. It's all Dad's fault.

By the way, Epu has started talking back by posting comments on my blog entries. To which I say, "Get yer own blog!" Can you selectively ban commenters? ;-)

5 comments:

Mel said...

I just found your blog today and feel for you and the ER visit. Please, do not beat yourself up. Your little Nutmeg is fine. Sure, it is a wakeup call and very scarey. Certainly makes you think how a little 19month old can get into ANYTHING.

We have had our own adventures to the ER and Poison Control due to my "ingenious" son. He was 3yo at the time and figured out how to get the cap off the Benadryl bottle. He has multiple allergies and a LARGE bottle is always on hand. He took a good amount of the bottle. I had to call Poison Control and they had us take him to the ER. They called the ER while we were en-route. I could have cried and kicked myself the entire time. I felt like such a dork and bafoon. Our boy was fine after being observed for 6hrs.

Even the most cautious parent has a booboo. You will be fine and lesson learned.

I look forward to reading more forays into parenthood.

Take care and hugs,
Melissa

Mel said...

I just found your blog today and feel for you and the ER visit. Please, do not beat yourself up. Your little Nutmeg is fine. Sure, it is a wakeup call and very scarey. Certainly makes you think how a little 19month old can get into ANYTHING.

We have had our own adventures to the ER and Poison Control due to my "ingenious" son. He was 3yo at the time and figured out how to get the cap off the Benadryl bottle. He has multiple allergies and a LARGE bottle is always on hand. He took a good amount of the bottle. I had to call Poison Control and they had us take him to the ER. They called the ER while we were en-route. I could have cried and kicked myself the entire time. I felt like such a dork and bafoon. Our boy was fine after being observed for 6hrs.

Even the most cautious parent has a booboo. You will be fine and lesson learned.

I look forward to reading more forays into parenthood.

Take care and hugs,
Melissa

Hillary said...

Phoebe drew all over our basement walls with permanent marker. Two weeks later Ken found her screaming with a bottle of "Orange Glo" in her hands. Seems as if she found the bottle and due to her small hands, accidently sprayed it into her mouth.

As Ken took her to the bath he called our MD and left a page for the doctor. Then he called me. I told him I would call Poison Control.

Seems as if there are 50 kinds of "Orange Glo." So Ken needed to call them with the ingredients. But, low and behold, he was already on the phone with someone else at Poison Control—apparently he didn't hear me say I would call.

In the end all was fine. We both had the people at Poison Control laughing at both of us because they don't usually speak to BOTH parents AT THE SAME TIME.

Then I had the right to kick Ken in the ass about cleaning and leaving all the cleaning products out. He is famous for not putting things away.

Notta Wallflower said...

I'm glad Nutmeg is okay. Jeez, don't beat yourself up too much - it could have been way worse. I remember one time Kyle got bitten on the ankle by something out in my Grandma's field. His leg got swollen and feverish up to his knee and I waited until the next morning to take him in, figuring the swelling would go down. The doc told me if I'd waited much longer, he might not have had a leg left below his knee. Whatever had bitten him left a nice infection in his blood. :-/

I still shudder when I think about that.

Kori said...

Well, that's it. I was only reading this blog because I thought you were practically perfect in every way. Now you've ruined it.

Wait a minute...Mary Poppins is practically perfect in every way. Sorry for the mix-up---I'll keep reading, afterall!

Seriously, though, I'm so glad the little nut is okay. Ingenious little bugger, isn't she?! I'm actually impressed with her dexterity. :)