Sunday, January 31, 2016
"Daddy! Daddy! I swallowed a toy!"
At first, I had no idea what to do. Her crying registered, but the part about the toy hadn't yet.
Crap, I thought.
My youngest Bryce had been at home with me after I picked her up from preschool while the Mama completed her final Kidpower workshop day. The Mama had been gone during the day for the past five days overlapping the weekend, and although I had childcare help on the school days, I didn't do half bad with the Daddy daycare overall.
When Bryce ran at me crying, I was halfway through a work call via my Bluetooth earpiece and cell phone and pacing around the kitchen.
Methodically my thoughts of what I should do next rolled into the industrial complex of my brain like ball bearings in the Mouse Trap game. They halted as they hit one another, stopped by my reaction center's closed door.
"Daddy! I swallowed a toy!"
When she reached me, she wrapped her arms around my waist -- that's when my internal door opened and the little silver balls rang my action bell.
"Hold on," I told Meghan and Cyndy, the TalentCulture friends and collaborators I was on the phone with. "I have a situation here; my youngest swallowed something she shouldn't have and I need to deal with it."
I put myself on mute. I remember thinking, Why don't you just hang up the phone?
I grabbed Bryce's face and pointed it upwards to mine. "Bryce, what did you swallow?"
"A little toy," she answered.
Raising my voice only made Bryce cry more, so I dialed it back. "Bryce, honey, you need to tell me what you swallowed."
"It's over there." She pointed to a broad array of toys strewn all over the living room floor.
"C'mon, please show me what it looked like."
She wasn't choking, so that was a good thing. I prayed that, whatever it was, it was small enough without sharp edges. I also realized it could've been one of a kind without a match for her to show me. Her crying had quieted but I wasn't convinced she could articulate what the object was.
She took me right over to the spillage of her toy jewels she loved to play with and pointed at them.
"It was one of those?"
If it was one of cut plastic jewels, then a few of them had pointed ends -- potential dangers to her small throat and esophagus.
"Bryce, this is really important. Do you see one like the one you swallowed?"
That's when she picked up the small round green glass jewel. It was like a squashed marble, about the diameter of a dime and a couple centimeters thick. And it was very smooth. No sharp edges.
"It was like this one."
"Bryce, how did you swallow it?"
I already knew the answer holding the object in my hand. Bryce showed me how she had put it in her mouth and sucked on it like it was a piece of hard candy.
"Bryce, you have to throw up so we can get it out of your stomach."
"Because it might make you sick and the sooner we get it out the better."
I shuttled Bryce into the downstairs bathroom and lifted the toilet seat.
"Come here, Bryce. Open your mouth."
She complied. I realized the moment I was doing it that maybe it wasn't the best idea, but all I could think about was getting it out of her.
"Okay, Daddy. I need to throw up. I feel sick."
I slowly pushed my forefinger into her mouth. I hit the back of her throat -- she gagged.
"Kevin, what do you think?"
Somebody asked me a question through my earpiece. I was still on the phone. Bryce gagged again then grabbed my wrist.
"Daddy, I don't want to do this. I don't want to throw up."
She's not choking and she's not in pain, at least not the kind caused by Daddy's reactionary angst.
"I love you, Bryce. Let's go back into the living room and I'll call the doctor."
I wrapped up my call (finally) and did an online search for kids swallowing toys:
...as long as the child isn't choking or getting sick...
blah blah blah
...and the object has no sharp edges...
blah blah blah
...or toxic if made from lead or other heavy metals...
blah blah blah
...the object should pass within 5-7 days...
Then I called our doctor's office. I vaguely remembered that there was an advice nurse I could speak with, but when I reached the receptionist, she said that service was only available after 5:30 PM.
All this less than two hours before I was supposed to leave for a conference. She did suggest that I look on the back of our health care benefits card because they should be an advice nurse number on it to call. Sure enough there was. I called and talked with a very nice nursed named Marsha. Marsha asked me a series of questions to ensure Bryce wouldn't need immediate medical attention.
Was your daughter choking?
Was your daughter having difficulty swallowing or stomach pain?
How big was the object?
What was it's shape?
Did it have any sharp edges?
Was it made from lead or another toxic material?
How long ago had she swallowed it?
"Do not attempt to induce vomiting. That could lead to further complications like aspirating the liquid and/or the object that could lead to suffocation," Marsha informed me.
"Got it. A little late for that one, but the good news is that my attempt to get her to throw up failed."
"That's all right. Now, get her to drink lots of fluids and watch her closely for the next few hours."
Marsha ended by explaining that the object should pass in Bryce's stool within seven days, but that we'd have to keep checking for it in the stool to confirm it actually passed. If not, we should take her in to get an X-ray to ensure there's not a problem. I thanked her and hung up. While I was on the call with the advice nurse, our babysitter had showed up, so now that I was off I explained to her what had happened and for her to watch Bryce closely while I went to pick up Beatrice from school.
At school, I asked the mothers of three of Bea's classmates if any of their children had ever swallowed anything like what Bryce did.
They all nodded and one of them smiled and said, "She'll poop it out. No worries."
I had to leave for my conference prior to the Mama getting home from her workshop, but explained everything to her on the phone before I left.
"She's seems fine for now and you'll be home in less than an hour."
"Thank you, Sweetie. So, this means I'll have to check her poop for the jewel?" the Mama asked.
"Tell that kid to quit eating things that aren't food," I said.
"I know, right?"
The Mama's had the daily poop checking pleasure, but the jewel hasn't yet passed. I've offered to help since I've been back from my conference (where I shared this story in its entirety halfway through my presentation), and while she appreciates it, the medical gloves she has are too small for my hands. Fortunately we've still got a few more days before we have to take Bryce to the doctor, a few more days for her poop to bear its glassy green fruit.