Wednesday, October 26, 2016
I was a Mom before I was a Poison Educator: This is My Story
While I was working on my bachelor’s degree, I was a stay-at-home mom of three boys and one girl. The creative curiosities that make great stories, such as Dennis The Menace, are exactly the kind of curiosity that engages my two middle boys to explore the world in a way I never would have imagined. They are 16 months apart and are similar in behavior to that of twins. I like to call them “Double Trouble” or “Bash Brothers,” depending on what the situation warrants. If they are best friends and exploring together, then they are Double Trouble; however, if they are worst enemies, then they are Bash Brothers.
As they have grown, we have experienced all kinds of terrifying events:
· Climbing out of their bedroom window, while I was asleep in my bed, and running up and down a busy street
· Removing the outlet cover to stick a pipe cleaner in that ended up blowing the outlet
· Evacuating an entire school for hours because they pulled a fire alarm
· Making messes that are and should remain an element of nightmaresHonestly, I could go on and on with a list of things they did to explore the world around them. Let’s face it, kids are curious and boys are insane; even if they are adorably cute! However, one thing I never worried about with them was poisons. I did not know the number to the poison center, but buried deep in the back of my mind somewhere I knew one existed.
When both of my boys were in school, I had a challenge of getting them in bed at a decent hour. I would turn off the light and leave their room, but they would continue to talk for hours. Finally, another mom mentioned giving my boys Melatonin to help them go to sleep. After checking with my boy’s doctor, I began giving them Melatonin as well. It was not very expensive, came in flavored tablets that they could dissolve in their mouth and it worked wonderfully!
One Friday evening, my husband and I went on a long-over-due date. We had just finished up with dinner when my mom calls (she was watching the kids) in a panic because one of my boys had eaten 9 or 10 Melatonin. My first reaction as a mom is, “what do I do?” It is amazing what happens when you are in “save my kid” mode. I pulled the existence of the poison center into the front of my mind, but I had no idea where to find the number. This was before we could just look anything up on our phones, so I turned to what we did have available–the phone book.
The specialist at the poison center was amazing. She provided peace of mind that my son would be OK, a little sleepy, but OK. They also offered to call back and check on him.
A couple of years after this terrifying experience, I was hired at a poison center as a community educator. My main mission is to make sure people know about the services the poison center offers and how to reach them. One of the things that affect me the most is the look on a person’s face when they tell me they have had to call the poison center for their child. No matter what we do as parents, sometimes our kids just get into things. The specialists at the poison center have heard stories that only a highly creative mind of a child could possibly dream up! Your kid is not the only one that has gotten into potentially dangerous things, and he will not be the last!
Now that I know that the specialists are trained medical professionals, I utilize them quite often. Calling 1-800-222-1222 provides fast and professional help for emergencies, information for questions and resources for prevention.
Written by Jennifer Watson, Poison Education & Outreach Manager with the Central Texas Poison Center located at Baylor Scott & White Health.