Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Mama almost goes into labor... courtesy of Jack

I love plants. I'm not much of a green thumb, and I've yet to keep an orchid or any other flowering plant alive for any significant length of time, but but my greens I can manage. We have several house plants in our Love Nest, all but one of which I brought into our marriage. There's the ivy plant my mom brought home from me when I was really sick once in Junior High, and which now has taken over our bookcase and wall.
There's the palm tree that I rescued from the "as-is" section of Ikea my Junior year of college. I feel like I've spent the better part of the past 5 years battling for its life, but we're currently in a good spell.

There's my favorite something-or-other that I transplanted from a planter that my mom received as a gift.

And then there's this guy. Who, up until last week, I didn't know much about. Silly, naive, little me.

Not long after posting the stories about my accident-prone, injury-magnet child, he decides to take things up a notch. I'm sitting in the living room one sunny afternoon, attempting to get some work done while my son is being unusually quiet in the kitchen (typically the first sign he's getting into trouble). A few seconds later he comes running out, screaming, while holding the leafless stem of one of my plants. I thought maybe he felt bad he had broken the stem. So I picked him up, gave him some snuggles and waited for him to stop crying. He always stops crying once I hold. But he didn't. Then I started to worry that he had a leaf stuck in his throat, but I couldn't see anything, and when I checked the kitchen all leaves were on the floor with no chew marks. At this point I'm starting to panic. Jack is sobbing uncontrollably, drool is running out of his mouth, and he won't let go of my neck. I kept checking his mouth but nothing looked red or swollen. He appeared to be breathing fine. Other than excessive amount of tears, snot and drool, and the fact that he kept putting his hands in his mouth, I couldn't figure out the problem. And so I start to cry because, for the first time ever, my son is in obvious pain and nothing I do can make it better. My husband is still at work, 40 minutes away, and I'm realizing I may be making a trip to the Emergency Room with Jack by myself. I wasn't even sure where the nearest ER was! (Don't worry, Jon has since educated me on what to do in case of an emergency!)

I gave Jack a sippy cup of water, which he guzzled down while still in tears. Meanwhile, I'm trying to Google "poisonous houseplants" with my free hand while also chatting online with a friend. This person, who has chosen to remain nameless, suggested I lick the plant myself to see if it did anything. So I did. (A few minutes later we both realized that this may not have been the smartest action since I am pregnant and all, but it was too late for that.) At first, nothing. And then a few seconds later my whole mouth began to burn. So by now I figured out that the plant was indeed the culprit and that my poor boy was suffering from some sort of burning mouth.
Eventually, a cupful of water and several helpings of raisins later, he calmed down enough that I could call the local Poison Control Center. Unfortunately, since I didn't know the name of the plant they couldn't be much help. So I did some more Googling (identifying plants via the internet is not as easy as it sounds!), and after two phone calls to my parents and one to a plant-expert friend back in PA, we finally figured out the I am the not-so-proud owner of a Dumbcane, plant species: Dieffenbachia. While easy to care for and helpful in purifying the air, "Painful and immediate swelling of the mouth and throat occurs after chewing on dumbcane. Speech impediment can occur, sometimes lasting for several days. Avoid eye contact with the juices which can result in intense pain and swelling." [source] Interestingly enough, since this incident it seems like everyone I know is fully aware that Dieffenbachia are poisonous. Where have I been? Note to readers: If you see a poisonous plant in someone's house, particularly mine, it might be wise to let them know!

Pain, swelling, speech impediment ... fan-tastic. I called back the fine folks at Poison Control:
"Hi, I'm the mom who called a little bit ago with the boy who ate a house plant ..."
"Oh, the [insert name of another common plant]."

"No, ... a different mom. This plant is a dieffenbachia."

Apparently, I was not the only mom in Southeastern Virgnia who's child ate a poisonous plant that day.
The nurse on duty assured me that Jack, who had since eaten a full dinner and was back to running around like a crazy man, was going to be fine. And he is. And so is #2, who remained the most calm throughout the entire incident. He's one lucky lil' brother to have Jack paving the way ahead for him, breaking Mom's best dishes and testing out poisonous house plants... Now if we can just get through the next week or two without anymore of these moments of panic, I will be a very happy mama!

4 comments:

Jennifer said...

you poor thing! but good sleuthing skills.

megan douglass said...

phew!! i'm glad everything turned out okay. i hope the aforementioned nameless friend never visits my house! yikes!

Mauby said...

This made me go look up every plant around our house...turns out just about every one is toxic!

Glad that everyone is ok. :)

J9 said...

Oh no! I really need to check on the rest of my plants, it's just hard to figure out what they are. They're all green and leafy. :)

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