Friday, September 24, 2010

Tiny Little Pellet, Huge Honkin' Headache

There are some things that really do go bump in the night...
Like Matthew's melon head.
Hitting the carpet on the deck.

Let me set the scene for you.
(This is actually more a story about the dog than Matthew, but be that as it's a slice of one of life's more chaotic moments.)

I come home from teaching my yoga class last night.
I am feeling great--relaxed, chill, appreciative, immersed in the present moment
(as I always feel after doing or teaching yoga).
Looking forward to hanging out with my family on the evening before the weekend officially starts.

We decide to walk around to the front yard and hang out in our bright orange and green plastic "faux" Adirondack chairs.
I'm walking with Matthew, who is carrying his treasured new toy Caterpillar truck (a front loader, complete with moveable parts and a little plastic man tucked inside).
I look up, and there's Jupiter, munching on the compact little rat-poison pellet that (our pest control man, just yesterday) assured us was safely tucked inside the paw-proof bait boxes outside the garage door.
(We think a squirrel or a chipmunk was the culprit...that squirrel or chipmunk is no doubt dead by now!)
I take my eyes off Matthew and yell to Jeff: "Jupiter has something in his mouth!"
(I am quite good at this stuff, and I have a sixth sense about things not being quite "right"--my sixth sense kicked in BIG TIME last night, and I'm glad it you'll see...)
Meanwhile, I look down, and (whoops! Bad Mommy!) Matthew has fallen, face down, onto his Caterpillar truck on the sidewalk.
(Lesson #1: The minute you take your eyes off your kid, that's when he'll get hurt.)

Argggh. He's OK. He shakes it off.
I pick him up, brush him off, and he's off again, toddling into the grass with his beloved truck.

Pan back to Jupiter:
He knows the command "Drop it," and drop it he did. Jeff pulled it out of his mouth.
We both look at it, puzzled.
What the heck is this manufactured-looking, pellet-like object that clearly smells and looks like food,
almost like a treat, of sorts?
The pest control guy was here today.
We both look at each other:
We look inside one of the boxes, and sure enough, one of the two pellets that is supposed to be "safely" tucked inside
is not there.
As in, rat-poison pellets (that our pest control guy is currently using to take care of our ongoing mouse problem).
Lesson #2: Don't believe the pest-control man when he tells you it's safe to use the bait boxes and the dog won't get the pellets. 

Damn it.
We talk about it.
Can we blow this off?
(I'm really tired, and I just want a glass of wine.)
Can we just assume he didn't eat anything?
I mean, it was just "in" his mouth.
He wasn't chomping on it.
There weren't pieces missing or anything.
But, yikes, "what if"?

So, the fun begins.

We all go inside, having abandoned all thoughts of enjoying a warm late summer (okay, technically, fall) evening in the front yard.
Now we are trying to decide what to do.
We call our pest control man. No answer on his cell.
We call the pest control company. They're closed.
We call the pet ER.
They instruct us to call the Poison Control Center.
We do. And for only $35 and our credit card information, we finally get an answer from the vet specialist on call.
(Lesson #3: Just because it's a toll-free number doesn't mean that the Poison Control Center's advice is free.)

He asks us what the EPA code number is on the bait box.
Wha? What EPA code number?
("There should be a code number on the bait box. Do you see it?")
Jeff goes out to look. No number.
(Lesson #4: All rat trap boxes should be labeled with an EPA code. Who knew?)
Apparently, there are three types of rat poison. Because we don't know (a) how much he ate (or whether he ate it at all) or (b) what type of poison it is (the kind that swells the brain, the kind that thins the blood, or the kind that attacks the kidneys), we must induce vomiting.
(Lesson #5: Rat poison pellets are very, very scary and should be taken very, very seriously.)

You are KIDDING me, right?
Sigh. More drama in the Halverson house.

Jeff remains on the phone, trying to hear the poison control person while Matthew is practicing his loud speaking voice in the background (perfect timing, as always).
Jeff goes onto the deck.
Matthew decides he wants to be where Daddy is.
Out we go to the deck.
Matthew sits on his little multicolored plastic picnic table.
I set his truck in front of him.
I turn around--FOR ONE SECOND--and
BAM! Backward he falls.
He lands with a thwack on the back of his head
and promptly starts to scream.
(Lesson #6: Stand right behind your son when he's sitting at a play picnic table. You are not a bad mom. You are not a bad mom. You are not a bad mom.)
Now Jeff REALLY can't hear the poison control guy,
who is in the middle of explaining what we should do.
Jeff runs inside, frantically throwing open cabinets to find out whether we have hydrogen peroxide in the house.
I, in the meantime, am consoling a very scared little boy (I think the fall scared him more than anything...he's got a hard head and this is not the first time this has happened),
who is now mid-scream
(you know, the kind that is SO HARD that it becomes voiceless, airless, and scares a parent half to death, as their face gets increasingly red and you wonder if they're breathing at all).
I check his head; he's fine. No blood, bumps, or bruises: Just a healthy dose of fear.

I take Matthew up to bed. He's still screaming, but it helps to be in his nursery with his lovey, Froggie; low lights; humidifier on; international folk music lullaby CD playing. (Thank God for Putamayo and Carlos Santana [yes, Carlos Santana indeed does a mean mellow acoustic guitar when he puts his mind to it!])
He falls asleep in no time.

Meanwhile, out goes Jeff to the drugstore to buy hydrogen peroxide.
Yup. 3% solution induces vomiting.
(In between all of this, I actually have time to pour myself a glass of wine and exhale. Good God. Now, I really need the yoga!)
We give Jupiter a tablespoon of the hydrogen peroxide.
Poor thing laps it up like candy, not knowing the hell that is about to happen within his guts.

Within minutes--no, seconds--he's vomiting all over the kitchen floor.
(Lesson #7: If you ever want your dog to vomit, give him hydrogen peroxide.)
Seven huge piles of vomit. I mean HUGE. (Wow, does that organic dog food ever expand!)
And Jeff gets to poke and prod through it all to determine if any rat poison was in there (as if we could tell at this stage of, um, "breakdown").
(Lesson #8: After dealing with a possible rat-poisoning incident with your pet, you can kiss good-bye all thoughts or desires of dinner.)

We are lucky. It appears that he hasn't ingested anything.
And now the poor dog can't even have water or food for another few hours until his gut relaxes and gets back to normal.
Now Jeff's on the phone with the ER vet, again. He says just keep an eye on him, but it's "great" (!!!???) that he vomited so much because if he did ingest anything, it's pretty much guaranteed that it's no longer in his body.
(Lesson #9: Sometimes, throw-up is "great"!)

Jupiter will probably be just fine (and indeed, as of this morning, he is).

As for Jeff and me, that's a whole other ball of wax.
I think it's time to buy some more wine.

Lesson #10: Always have a healthy supply of wine in the house. For moments such as this.

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