Thursday, February 5, 2009

Charcoal Pudding Tastes Like Charcoal, not Pudding

So yesterday morning I drank coffee, I made peanut butter cookies with the girls, I did my cardio workout with YourselfFitness, I worked on my Valentines while the girls drew some dinosaurs for a book list we're putting together, I wrote, I fixed lunch for the girls (salad, swiss cheese, and faux bologna in a pita), I went to tell them lunch was ready, and I found them both crouched in the hallway, having scaled the linen closet shelves and defeated the child-proof cap, downing an entire bottle of store-brand children's Tylenol.

Dr. Schechter said call National Poison Control. National Poison Control said call Indiana Poison Control. Indiana Poison Control ran some numbers for me (while Willow, who tends to get a little overwrought, ran hysterically weeping from room to room, on each pass shrieking out a new lie to me about how much Tylenol she had consumed--"I only drank one and Sydney drank six!" "I drank six, too!"), and decided that even if Willow had drank the entire bottle of Tylenol, she was still at a non-toxic level, but Sydney?

Sydney and I were taking a little trip to the emergency room.

But of course, since being a stay-at-home mom means that even an emergency is filled with chores of mind-numbing suckage, I first had to call Matt to come get Willow, get both girls dressed (face washed? clean shirt? Cause I seriously might get a visit from Social Services this time), call my bestest mom friend to ask her to pick up Willow after preschool, move Willow's car seat to the other car, take down the two stuffed dinosaurs (T. Rex and pteranodon, in case you're keeping count) that I'd hidden away for the girls' birthdays and give them to them to stave off future hysterics, grab the backpack of car toys, and remind Matt no fewer than 18 times to sign the form in the office giving someone else permission to pick up Willow after school.

Compared to that, the ER was a little relaxing, frankly. If you want service, you really should walk in holding the hand of a cute little red-cheeked, bright-eyed girl in a teddy bear coat and say, "Poison Control sent us." Because you get all kinds of service then.

You get to eat charcoal pudding and drink (non-organic!) milk off and on for four hours:

You get to play with floam and magnet games and color in your sister's(!) coloring book that Momma grabbed my mistake (which said sister actually had the nerve to give me crap about this morning and I'm all, "Lady? You don't even want to start that with me"):And you even get teddy bears! Well, the first teddy bear is free. The second one, however, you must pay for in blood:
To recap, if you keep over-the-counter medicine (children's Tylenol is a crock anyway, partly because accidental overdose is so common (ahem) and I basically only kept it to give Willow a taste as a placebo whenever she gets hysterical because she feels sick (she's gets a little overwrought, remember?)), it's a good idea to make a mental/physical note whenever you dispense it of how much is left in the bottle--that's important to know. It's also a good idea to always know a ballpark number of how much your kid weighs.
If your kid is an idiot and drinks your Tylenol, Poison Control needs those numbers, as well as how much is left undrunk (I used a measuring cup), to do their math. If they send you to the emergency room, you'll have to wait there for four hours, guaranteed, before they can do the blood-draw, since that's apparently the length of time it takes for Tylenol to peak in the bloodstream. You'll also have to feed your kid chocolate pudding spiked with charcoal and non-organic milk. They warned me that kids sometimes vomit up the charcoal, but Syd has a stomach of iron.

So the arbitrary number of Tylenol toxicity in the bloodstream is 100. Syd was a 30, so we got to go home (I tell this to Matt, and he's all, "I wonder what the number for normal is?" I'm all, "Well, dear, since it's a measure of how much Tylenol is in your bloodstream, I'm thinking that the number for normal is, you know, ZERO.") In retrospect, I imagine he meant what is the number for one normal dose, and that is 7.

But of course, I don't only have the sucky chores of a stay-at-home mom to do--hanging out in the ER for five hours, organizing pre-school pick-ups--but also the sucky chores of a working woman, so Syd and I got home just in time for me to upload a couple of handouts to my class Web site, print out some sign-up sheets, change my shirt and brush my teeth, call my mom friend and organize a Willow transer (in a Village Pantry parking lot, on the way to the other kid's violin lesson), and get back in the car and over to my class so that one kid can come up to me crying because she accidentally erased the final version of her paper and only has the rough draft to hand in, and one kid can ask if he can handwrite his Works Cited page because he forgot to do it before, and one kid can ask, "Are we getting out early today?" and then huff grumpily back to his seat when I say, ""

Because if you want to annoy your instructor, you should make sure she's just spent five hours in the emergency room with her small child, and then you should ask her some whiny question trying to get out of learning and be mad when she informs you that no, come hell or high water, there will be learning done tonight.

At least I got that one thing accomplished.


kirsten said...

yikes. glad everyone's okay. i've made calls to poison control, too - and i hate it every time. oh, the stress! and emergency rooms - is it even possible to spend less than 4 hours in one? i doubt it.

learning to guage your teacher's stress level is something i'm trying to teach my daughter. for real. like 'see how your ballet teacher is all anxious and worried because her daughter's not here yet (driven by her teenage son - i don't blame her)? don't mess around right now! trust me!'

Anonymous said...

Oh, god, Julie! What a horrific ordeal. I'm dreading the day that Lex is tall enough (or whatever) to get into something like that. I can already tell he's going to be handful at 13 months...

Abby said...

oh my god. that is terrible. poor sydney, and POOR YOU. btw: do you buy your tylenol in bulk, or what?!

Anonymous said...

Despite your description being really funny, I was clutching my chest while reading it because it could have been really scary (and I'm sure it was while you were going through it)!

I'm going to kiss my children now for never getting into any medicine they weren't supposed to and scaring the bejeezus out of their mother. :}

Glad Syd's ok!!!

julie said...

Four ounces, kiddo. Four ounces.

And the most Syd could have possibly consumed was three ounces.

Tylenol is hella toxic stuff.

Anonymous said...

Then what would you suggest to a demon possessed child teething? I've bought the Hyland's teething tablets at Barefoot, but they don't seem to have the lasting power that Tylenol does (we only give it to him at night to take the edge off so he can sleep)...We've tried the tablets overnight, but he seems to wake a lot more when we give those to him. Are we working our own placebo effect???

Is there anything out there that you would suggest other than tylenol drops for him?

julie said...

No, the problem with Tylenol isn't that it doesn't do its job--it is shown to be effective as a pain reliever. Tylenol's big problems are that 1) it's pretty hard on the liver, even at a normal dose, and 2) weight isn't a completely exact determination of how much Tylenol you should take. The exact determination is the rate at which your liver processes it (like alcohol), and weight is just an approximation. Some people are apparently more sensitive to Tylenol than others, so for those people, a normal dose of Tylenol would be an overdose.

No, my reasons for choosing not to medicate symptoms when my girls and I get sick or hurt is totally different, and likely will score me my visit from Social Services one of these days. But in a pinch, when I really do want serious pain relief, not just comfort techniques, I do give Syd a half-dose and Will a quarter-dose of Tylenol, which are amounts that seem to work for them (The fact that a quarter-dose, or even just a taste, always stops Willow's hysterical crying immediately makes me suspect that I'm giving it to her more for the placebo effect than anything). And usually when I do make the decision to medicate, it is at bedtime, because I think rest is the most important thing for promoting healing.

The reason I'm a mean momma the rest of the time is because my kids are crazy monkeys and they need to feel the symptoms of illness or injury to help them get better. If Will has a fever, for instance, I want her to feel ill, because then she'll stay in bed all day and watch movies instead of running around the house like a maniac. And when Syd jumps off the couch and hurts her ankle, she needs her ankle to hurt so she can remember to stay off of it for the rest of the day. It's like how when the kiddos were teething and the counter-pressure of gnawing on a frozen banana made their gums feel better, and also helped push those molars through.

cake said...

i like your reasoning about pain and pain relief. i usually restrict it to bedtime too, if i ever think it is necessary. but my kid isn't really into it (for instance, he never asks for it).

i have heard (from another parent, who's 3 year old drank some) that tylenol is commonly overdosed, and that they have pretty set procedures for dealing with it. that, and the fact that it has been around for such a long time, make it slightly "safer" for kids than motrin.

sorry you had to go through that. you handled it well.

Anonymous said...

We typically forgo ANY pain relievers during the day unless he's getting vax (we do delayed schedule so we're in either every month or now that he's older every 3 months). Personally, for myself I don't take any pain relievers (I toughed out my c-section recovery without ANY drugs post surgery *pats self on back*), so I try to keep what we give Lex to an absolute minimum.

As for the fever reduction and pain reason, I wholeheartedly agree with you. I don't think we should just dispense meds all willy nilly :-)

I hope that my post asking about tylenol didn't sound judgemental at all. The last thing I EVER want to do is judge another mom. I'm not in your (plural you) shoes, so it's not my place to ever judge anything anyone does.


julie said...

Oh, man, if I couldn't judge other people, I don't even know if my life would be worth living!

And vaccinations? Don't even get me started about my utter paranoia about heavy-metal buildup. It is ruining my life.


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