Tip for the Day: Poison Control is Our Friend

October 8th, 2008

“Poison Control, how may I help you?” said the official sounding voice on the other end of my telephone this afternoon.

“Hi,” I said and paused for a moment.

What do I say??

Having never called the Poison Control number I’d carefully mounted on my fridge after Bubbers was born, I didn’t know the “procedure” for beginning such conversations.

Finally, I decided the straightforward approach was best.

“My 17-month-old son just swallowed a little bit of hand sanitizer and I wanted to make sure he’s going to be okay.”

“Hand sanitizer?” the woman asked, “What kind?”

Taken off guard, I replied, “Um, I don’t know…..  Let me go look…..”

I ran to the closet and pulled out the offending item.
PICT0092 sepia

“Germ-X Germ Blaster.”

Suddenly, I noticed the little cartoon germ on the label and had to suppress a grin.

What a silly little guy! I thought to myself with amusement.

“And it’s….. orange,” I concluded, suddenly realizing that perhaps I was over reacting.

You’re not over reacting, I immediately defended myself.

I’m not? I asked back.

No, you’re not, I reassured myself, The bottle says, “If accidentally ingested, contact Poison Control immediately.”

Oh yeah, that’s right! I remembered with renewed confidence.

“When did he swallow it?” the woman on the phone asked.

“Uh….. About 2 minutes ago,” I answered.

“Well…..” the woman said slowly.

My heart rate increased ever so slightly.

Well, what?!

Why are you pausing?

“He barely swallowed any of it,” I suddenly interrupted with forced confidence, “I mean, I didn’t actually see exactly how much, but it looked like less than the size of a dime.”

She was quiet a moment longer.

Finally, she said, “He should be fine.  The worst thing that can happen with hand sanitizer is that if a child swallows enough of it they can get intoxicated.”

“That’s what I thought,” I agreed.

“But they don’t usually swallow that much because it doesn’t taste good,” she continued.

“Yes!” I said with relief, “He made a face like it was really nasty.”

“Did you give him water or anything afterward?” she asked.

“No…..” I said with hesitation, “But I did wipe his mouth out with a baby wipe.”

I wanted to explain that I was changing his diaper at the time it happened.

And grabbing for a fresh wipe was the first thing that came to my mind when I realized what he’d done.

And how I had always been so extremely careful for almost a year-and-a-half not to let him play with the hand sanitizer.

Because I was afraid he’d swallow it.

So I kept it in the closet where he couldn’t get to it.

And was using it up as fast as I could.

And I wasn’t going to buy anymore.

But there was still a little left.

And just lately he decided he didn’t like diaper changes anymore.

So I caved in and let him play with it.

Because it was the only thing that would keep him still for me.

But I always kept a really good eye on him the whole time.

And if he happened to open it, I never let him get any out.

Except.

This time.

He had an unusually messy diaper.

And I was concentrating unusually hard on cleaning his little cheeks.

And I didn’t realize that he’d put the sanitizer up to his mouth until it was too late.

And the only thing I could think of was grabbing for a fresh wipe and sweeping out his mouth.

I wanted to tell her all of this.

This poor stranger from Poison Control on the other side of the phone.

But I didn’t.

“Oh okay,” she said without the slightest bit of concern, “Well, if you want to, you can give him some water or milk to dilute it.  But other than that, he should be fine other than a possible upset stomach.”

“That’s great,” I said with relief.

Then suddenly.

I realized I had no idea to whom I was talking.

“Are you a nurse?” I asked politely.

“No,” she answered, “My medical background is naturopathy, but there are mainly nurses and pharmacists here.”

“Oh,” I said, “This is just the first time I’ve ever called and I didn’t know who you were.”

Then she asked for my son’s name.

And my name.

“For our medical records,” she explained.

I gave them to her and then we hung up.

And then.

It happened.

Was that okay to give her my information?? I suddenly thought with extreme paranoia.

What does she need it for anyway?

Then my heart rate really started to increase.

And snowball.

Out of control.

What if she tells CPS?

And CPS doesn’t know that it was all an accident?

And that I really do love my son and take good care of him?

And they come here and try to take my son?

And I have to karate chop them all?

And pepper spray them in the eyes?

I immediately called my husband.

Who calmly reassured me that it was just fine to give them my name.

And I didn’t do anything wrong.

And nobody was taking Bubbers away from me.

And I didn’t need to karate chop anyone.

Or pepper spray them in the eyes.

Because Poison Control is our friend.

“Okay,” I finally said, “If you say so.”

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12 Comments

alycia | 10/8/2008 9:05 pm

Wow, what a day! Now I know what to expect if I ever need to call poison control… especially since Preston has sucked on the lid of hand sanitizer before. I heart your blog by the way, look at mine for details. :)

 
charlotte | 10/8/2008 9:09 pm

Oh my goodness, this was hilarious!! I was giggling so hard. Very well written, Heidi:)

And I have had that same stilted conversation with the poison control lady (Sam ate diaper cream once – it was scented with rosemary. He yelled “Chicken”!! and then sucked it down.) and even had the same panic attack about CPS after I hung up. Especially because I had to call back a week later after I accidentally double-dosed Jonas with baby benadryl. I was sure they had a special file just for me with “bad mom” stamped all over it!

 
Darcy D | 10/8/2008 11:17 pm

You are too funny! Glad all was OK.

 
Wandering Nana-Linda | 10/9/2008 7:55 am

This was so funny… been there and done that.. mine was with a toadstool and we had to do do the ipecac thing which was awful. I’m just glad you didn’t tell her you used a diaper wipe (which probably has the same stuff as the hand sanitizer :] ) to wash out his mouth… that would have been another story and that would mean 2 strikes… “D Very funny story.

 
Kara | 10/9/2008 7:58 am

William once ate a pansy flower and I called poison control. I couldn’t find it anywhere on lists of dangerous and safe plants, so I called. Pansies are edible. :)

 
Heidi Lawson | 10/9/2008 9:03 am

I’m smiling at this one. We all call poison control at some point, don’t we? And next time you call, you’ll think they are amazingly friendly, because they will know your name. And your child’s name. ‘Cause once you go on record, you stay there forever. My sister calls on such a regular basis (“My son just sprayed Windex in the room and then walked through the mist. What should I do?!” She’s a little over-the-top with paranoia) that they actually answer the phone saying, “Hi, Mary. What can we do for you today?”

 
Jesse | 10/9/2008 2:21 pm

Better safe than sorry. Mommies have such a lot to worry about!

 
Melissa | 10/9/2008 2:28 pm

Oh Heidi. :) Congratulations on surviving your first call to Poison Control. The first time I had to call was because I found Matt sucking down toothpaste from our master bathroom (he was 2, maybe?). The tube said to call poison control if more than used for brushing is swallowed, and I was unsure of how much he’d had so I called. Like you I was unprepared for all the info the lady asked for (the brand and EXACT name, how many ounces are in a new tube, not to mention his age & weight.). So while I was going back to my bathroom to retrieve said toothpaste, Matthew got into my purse and started eating my GUM! lol At least it wasn’t my makeup! Anyway, long story short: He would have had to consume 1/2 the tube for there to have been a problem, and there wasn’t that much in there to begin with. She had me give him milk, which would bond with any flouride in his stomach and take it away, just in case.

And like I said, that was the FIRST time we’ve had to call poison control – there have been a few other times, incl. a call like yours! So, no worries, you’re not alone – and no matter how careful you are, you’ll probably have to call again! ;)

 
tearese | 10/9/2008 6:52 pm

Once I was babysitting my younger brother, and he ate some dish washer detergent. I was so worried about whether I should call 911 or poison control, but I didn’t want to call them and have my mom get mad at me when she came home…our family is all about not worrying unless a bone is sticking out.
So I didn’t call them. When my mom came home I told her what he’d done, and she just nonchalantly said, “Well, I bet he didn’t like that very much.”
I was sooo glad I hadn’t called.

 
Apple | 10/9/2008 7:40 pm

Wow…what a day! My aunt had to call poison control for her dog once (he ate some rat poison she had under the sink). She had to make her throw up, but she was fine.
I left an award over at my blog for you, so when you get a chance go check it out!!!

 
Apple | 10/9/2008 7:58 pm

You are welcome!!
I can’t wait to move our new furniture in and see what it looks like in our home. We have been living in my mom’s “workshop” for the passed month and a half and I can’t wait to get back to something “normal”!!
Give bubbers a big kiss for me…I just love hearing all of his stories!!!

 
Leah | 10/9/2008 8:46 pm

The things we go through as mothers!! I would have been freaking out after I hung up too. I’m not looking forward to that first inevitable poison control call… Thanks for sharing your story and giving me something to giggle about today. You are a great momma!!

 

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