Ipecac Syrup

We had a poisoning incident when our granddaughter was visiting recently. Cleaning fluid left in a drinking glass. Call poison control. They said it might upset her stomach a little, but was not serious. No need for Ipecac or the hospital.

Our granddaughter, having been through this routine once before (daffodil bulbs may look like garlic bulbs, but they are poisonous, even when cooked), got out a trash can to throw up in. As it happened, stomach rumbling was the only result.

But, while we were waiting to see what would happen, she asked me if this had ever happened to her cousin. I said I did not know if it had ever happened to him, but it had happened to her father. A friend had convinced him to take a bite out of a cake toilet sanitizer.  Poison control said it was the least poisonous of the lowest category of poison, but he should still throw it up. Hospital and Ipecac ensued. After an hour, throwing up done, he said he was hungry and we went out for a steak dinner.

Her mother said this is one of the things she does when something serious happens. She asks for stories about other, similar incidents with people she knows. Her mother told the story about eating poisonous red berries when she was a child.

An earlier burn incident had elicited stories from each of us. I had just burned my finger on the stove that morning. Not as seriously as her burn, but enough to keep it in ice water for an hour.

And, I’d told her the story about her father’s burn with hot grease when he was a toddler, how her grandfather, home at the time, who had worked in a grill where they kept ice water next to the grill for the inevitable burns, helped me put him in the shower, under ice water, first thing.

How someone had discovered the ice water approach when a man had jumped out of a burning building into an ice-cold lake, and escaped with minimal burns on his face.

How, when we took her father to the hospital, they had wrapped his face and chest in gauze and directed me to refresh it with ice water from a bulb baster every few minutes. How he’d gone to sleep in-between when I sang a lullaby to quiet him, “Summertime.” How he’d not let me sing him that song for years afterwards. How the only remnants of the burn were a scar on a finger we’d missed.

How “hot” had been one of his first words. But, even at that, I’d let him touch the hot oven door once when I couldn’t keep him away from it with words several months later, and he’d relearned the meaning of “hot!”

How, when I’d been young, we were taught to put butter on a burn, to keep air from getting to it and feeding the burn, but now they know that the grease heats up the burned skin and damages it more, while ice water cools the heat and stops the damage. The current recommendation is cool water, not ice water.

She took it all in. And, eventually, danger passed, she went to sleep.

I think finding out what’s normal, finding out that people survive even very scary, painful things, is a good way to build resilience in a scary, dangerous world.

Excellent parenting.