My Parenting Fail: The Importance of Keeping Medicine Out of Reach

When you become a parent, one of the things you worry about, especially as your child gets mobile, is the safety of the surroundings in your home. You put plugs in the outlets, latches on the cabinets, move the cleaning products and sharp kitchen knives out of reach. Most of this is common sense. You also fundamentally know that you should keep all medicines out of reach.  Toddlers are lightening fast and are sure to taste anything, like sharks who take a quick little nibble of something to see if it’s food they like before digging in.

And, this is where I have failed. I have Crohn’s disease and take medicine, strong medicine, every day. And, I failed to keep it out of my child’s reach.  As I’m brushing my teeth one morning a few weeks ago, my child comes back into the bathroom and opens his mouth to show me his “food” which consists of several of my pills.  My heart sinks.  I get whatever I can get out of his mouth.  I then go to find the bottle, which he has emptied all over his bed.  My heart sinks further.

How could I have been so negligent?  Was it my lack of morning coffee that caused me to leave the bottle in reach, child safety cap not secure?  All it took was a moment of distraction for him to grab it and then go forth and investigate his new-found toy.

I suspect that he didn’t actually swallow any but I know from what I saw in his mouth he chewed at least 2-3 tablets. Some of these bits of partly chewed pills I was able to get out of his mouth.  As I am panicking, my child meanwhile is fine, eating normally, playing normally, as if nothing has happened.  But because I’m not certain what he swallowed and the results of my quick Google search of the medicine’s effect on children were disconcerting, we head to the emergency room.  This, I’m sure is only the first of such trips we’ll take during his childhood.   Of course as this was peak morning travel time, it took us about an hour to travel the 8 miles to the hospital. Bloody Oxford traffic.

Unlike my experience at the dentist, the ER is well prepared for kids and for them to be there for extended periods of time.  The special playroom in the children’s ward was so full of toys I think the Little Monkey just thought we’d gone to a special playgroup for the day.  And, I mean THE DAY as we were there for about six hours.  Mostly, we spend the six hours waiting around.  Partly, for him to be there long enough for the doctors to observe him, partly to wait for his “magic gloves” to work (anesthetic cream applied to his hands to numb the pain of needles), and partly, because that’s just how an ER works.  I learn there are people who work there whose actual job title is “Play Therapist” and their job is to distract your child from the fact that someone is inserting a needle into one of their veins. On this occasion, she was blowing bubbles for his entertainment.  How do I get a job that involves blowing bubbles?  Wait, as a parent, I have that.  How do I get a PAYING job that involves blowing bubbles?

In the end, my child was normal, his tests all normal, but, given the nature of the medicine and that we had no idea how many he may have had, I’m told that I’ll have to take him for blood tests once a week for the next three weeks.  And, I’ll have to bring a urine sample along for these visits.  The nurse hands me cups in which to collect this.  Wee in a cup?  My child can’t wee in the toilet.  She suggests that I hold the cup over his private parts while I read him a story.  Like he’s going to sit still for that as if this is normally how we read together?  I give it a go the first week but show up empty-handed.  Luckily, they have an alternate method for kids that aren’t potty trained which involves placing what I would describe as a large sanitary napkin in their nappy and then extracting the urine out of it with a syringe.  All very fun indeed, but successful.

So we make three more trips to the hospital.  We get more “magic gloves” but also “magic elbow pads” and even “magic socks.”  And, each time I am grateful that all that’s come out of this experience for my child are a few needle sticks.  It could have been much worse.  I look around at the other parents in the waiting room, there for things far more serious and I am thankful that my child is healthy and happy.

For me, what’s come out of this is a hard lesson learned.  It’s terrible enough when something happens to your child but it’s made even worse if it’s as a result of something you did and could have prevented.  Kids encounter enough dangers in the world today so be diligent about protecting yours from your own stupidity.  Keep the medicine way up in the cabinet and secure the bloody safety cap!

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  • Reply Jet Harrington November 8, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    Being a parent means you wear many hats. It’s impossible to keep them all balanced perfectly all the time. I hear your stress, your disconcert; I hope you won’t beat yourself up too much for this.

    We ALL have these stories. I guarantee you. Most of mine with my daughter involve head injuries. And blood. Lots of blood. And stitches.

    Your child knows you love him. You start fresh with him each day, each moment. You are a good enough mother, I promise you.

    • Reply katlightner November 8, 2011 at 4:52 pm

      Jet thanks so much for the encouragement. He’s perfectly fine which I’m so thankful for. But goodness, scared me to death. It’s good to know I’m not alone. This parenting thing is hard! Rewarding, but hard!

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