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It Wasn’t Juice She Was Drinking, It Was Poison

child poisoningSomething seemed strange. We were all sitting around the dinner table, me, my mom, my brother, my sister Abby and my sister Molly, and something about Molly didn’t seem right.

She was maybe one-and-a-half years old at the time, and was sitting in her high chair with her bib on, grabbing at the dinner in her tray and drinking out of her sippy cup.

It was my mom who figured it out. I could tell because in the middle of talking she stopped abruptly, her face turned white, and she jumped out of her chair. Molly’s bib was yellow. She was drinking apple juice, and dribbling it down her chin, yet the bib was a bright yellow, not the color of apple juice. So odd.

It wasn’t juice at all, she realized. Molly was drinking dye.

Mom’s hobby was making handmade baskets and she would dye the reeds she used to make them in different colors. After she made various dyes she’d keep the batches in old apple juice containers with the labels removed. That night, mom had accidentally grabbed the wrong container.

When we all realized what was happening, there was much scrambling around the kitchen. Thankfully, my mother had the number for Poison Control and she called immediately. They said we needed syrup of ipecac, which we didn’t have. I was in high school and only had my learner’s permit, but since my mom didn’t want to leave Molly and needed to stay on the phone, and since dad was out of town, I was the only one who could go get it.

I remember driving like mad down the sleepy streets of my suburban town. It was Sunday evening, and very quiet. When I arrived at the local Walgreen’s, the doors were locked. The lights were on and I could see some staff inside tidying up at the end of the day. I started banging on the doors with my fists, screaming that my sister had been poisoned. I was so grateful that someone came and opened the door. I let out a stream of words about ipecac and everyone there went running in different directions to find it. When the person who did handed it to me, I threw the scrunched up $20 bill in my hand at him and ran out of the door.

When I got home, we gave Molly the syrup and then my mom held her as she projectile vomited over and over and over again into a bucket on the floor while we all stood by hoping and praying she’d be okay. She was so cute. So lively. So little.

In the end, Molly was just fine. Thank goodness.

This week is National Poison Prevention Week, designed to raise awareness about the dangers of poisonings and how to prevent them. Sponsored by the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC), this year’s focus includes a variety of themes, including “Children Act Fast – So Do Poisons” and “Spotlight on Prescription Painkillers.”

In 2011, US poison centers answered more than 3.6 million calls, including about 2.3 million calls about human exposures to poisons. About 90 percent of the people who called with poison emergencies were treated at home following the advice of poison center experts, saving an estimated $1.19 billion in medical expenses.

My family needed a Poison Control Center once. I’m so grateful my mother knew of them and how to reach them. They helped my family at a time of need, and I’ll never forget that.

Photo credit: © Graça Victoria – Fotolia.com

Have you ever had to call poison control in your home? If so, tell us what happened!

writes here at Babble as well as at her own blog on postpartum depression, called Postpartum Progress. You can also follow her on Twitter as she tweets inane things about her day, or learn more about at the Fierce blog, here.

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