“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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”