Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Accidents Happen?

“Accidents happen.” That was the quote that I heard over this past weekend. Only I am not in a position to allow it to be called an accident. In fact, if I were to allow the incident to have been called an accident, then I believe like other accidents, this could have been prevented. And it should have been prevented. But no, I will not label this incident an “accident.”

This post is not about placing blame either. I want to explain to you what happens when you get complacent and overconfident in your parenting and just how dangerous that attitude can be. To be honest, what I am about to share with you, can happen just as easily to an adult as it did my youngest daughter. I am sharing it with you, because if there is ever going to be an accident involving anyone else, I want to help you prevent it.

Last week, my daughter ingested over 75% of a bottle of Children’s Tylenol in a four hour period, clearly overdosing on the amount of medicine, unintentional of course. Those who know me, know I will not spend a lot of time on the “why”, which was crucial in this situation. You see, Tylenol, or acetaminophen, as it is also called, is toxic to the liver. There is a reason that the dosage marked on the box says not to take more than four times in an twenty-four hour period. So imagine drinking the large quantity that my daughter did in just four hours. I will show you what happens.

I took my daughter to the emergency room as soon as I found out what had happened, but it was unknown exactly how much in how short a time, and how long ago, my daughter had drank the Children’s Tylenol. But I brought the bottle with me, so that the hospital could measure the remaining contents, and determine the next step, following a the first of seven blood tests, measuring two very important liver enzyme levels. How serious did it get?

Beginning with levels at 125/103 and then increasing at each blood test to:
182/163
497/448
682/720
751/878

As you can see, the levels continued to climb over the initial 48 hours, and that was with the antidote to the Tylenol being injected into my daughter via intravenous fluids. Imagine had I not brought her to the ER, left her to just “let it run through her system”. When those liver enzymes hit 1000, that is when liver failure becomes a real possibility. There are other blood levels that were being watched, but that AST and ALT levels were the numbers that were the most concerning and watched.

On the next day, the blood test showed that the numbers had finally reflected the treatments being administered in a 1 hour dose, a 4 hour dose, and a sixteen hour dose. Only my daughter required two more sixteen hour doses of the antidote.

Today she is feeling much better and will see our family doctor one more time for this incident, and will get one more blood test, and hopefully those numbers will be normal. That would be 35-ish, not triple digit.

Not to ignore “why” this happened, there are many possibilities, some obvious, and some not. Like many parents, we use the flavored medicines to help get them into the girls, so I know she is drawn to the taste. My daughter has also noticed many people take medicines for various ailments, so when she does not feel right, she does what she sees. I do not know why she chose to do it on her own, or how she even came to ingest it on her own, let alone open the bottle. Although, she did inform me that she learned to open the bottle by reading the instructions on the bottle cap. But instead of bothering a grown up, she snuck off through the house with the bottle, and gave herself the medicine.

NOTE TO PHARM COMPANIES – that bottle is only childproof if the child cannot read!!!

My warning to you, if you suspect your child has ingested anything that he or she should not have, do not take the chance. Take the bottle and the child to the ER and let the doctor there figure everything out. Even if your child is vomiting the substance out, like my daughter, chances are, the ingredients have already entered the bloodstream. And at that point, you cannot help any more than getting the child to the doctor. Your child needs medical intervention. My story could have turned out tragic. So, if you want to call it an accident, however I will not, but hopefully my story will prevent an “accident” from happening.

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