Sunday, July 08, 2007

Plant Scare

Melissa had pilfered a mostly empty yogurt cup from the table and was happily smearing the remnants on her face and the couch. I confiscated the cup and was in the process of tossing it, when I heard a blood curdling scream from the front room. Tears were streaming down Melissa's face and she was wailing full throttle. I checked her head and limbs for bonks or cuts and didn't see anything apparently wrong. Clenched in her fist were two leaves from a plant. One was torn a bit.

Then she started gagging as though she was trying to throw up. Could she have eaten the plant and had a reaction? I rinsed her mouth and tried to get her to drink, without luck. Couldn't call poison control, because I had no idea what the name of the plant was. I tried to look it up in a plant book (while comforting Melissa), but didn't see anything quite like it. Melissa had stopped crying at this point but her face was starting to swell and she was drooling. Yikes!

Quickly I packed both kids up and drove to a nursery on the way to the doctor's office to identify the plant. The woman said it was a dieffenbachia and quite poisonous to pets. We made a mad dash out of the nursery and raced to the doctor's office five minutes away. Every couple of seconds I asked Melissa how she was doing and she'd nod back to me. She hadn't spoken since the painful screaming. Her poor little mouth was even more swollen. We got to the office and signed in. It was only a few minutes before a nurse called Melissa, but it felt like an eternity. During this time Matthew was telling everyone with great relish that his sister had eaten a plant and it made her sick. He also admired the turtle in the aquarium and chattered nonstop with all the kids. The office waiting room was packed, so there were a lot of kids with which to strike up a conversation. Melissa, on the other hand was abnormally silent.

Once in the exam room the nurse gave Melissa some benadryl (which we found out later does not help against plant toxins, but would have been useful if she was having an allergic reaction). Her oxygen levels were great. Thank heavens. She also got a popsicle. Melissa insisted on holding the popsicle, but would not eat it. The doctor came in and said that they'd contacted poison control and that oxalic acid in the plant sap causes a broken glass feeling in the mouth. She said that there really wasn't anything they could give Melissa to help, but they would like to keep her there for while to make sure her throat didn't swell and constrict her breathing.

Here's some info on that nasty plant...

So we waited in the tiny room. There was a TV on the ceiling and Matthew hopped up on the exam table to watch Blues Clues. Melissa mostly wanted to be held. I broke the popsicle into chunks and gave them to her. She resisted initially, but then the cold started to numb her mouth a bit and she gestured for more. About a half hour later she started talking some.

"Baby!" (there was a picture of a baby on the wall).

"Cold!" (the popsicle)

"More!" (referring to the popsicle again after she'd finished it)

She started to get bored in the little room and tried to ransack it. Clearly she was feeling better. The nurse in the hall insisted that we needed to be there at least an hour. Melissa requested another popsicle and the nurse got it. She was getting more vocal and impatient. I think the nurse was starting to tire of us. We saw the doctor about 10 minutes later. :) When the doctor came in, Melissa had just settled down to nurse. The doc had a big grin on her face when she saw that, but apologized for not knocking first. "Oh good! She's feeling up to nursing!"

So we left (Matthew reluctantly, Melissa bolting) and Melissa took a very good nap after her adventure. As soon as we got home, the guilty plant ended up in the trash.

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