By Adesida Adewumi MD
I just finished observing my siesta in the afternoon. I woke up and started preparing to go to the hospital for my afternoon call when Mrs. Victoria’s call came in. She sounded very distressed.
“Doctor, help me. My daughter just drank a whole bottle of shaving cream” seriously sobbing on phone.
I asked her to calm down so that we could make progress as every minute counted.
I asked her “did you see her drinking it or you just saw the bottle in her hands” “
“As I came to the bathroom I met her drinking it” she answered in more distress.
“Okay, can you ascertain how long ago she drank it and how much she drank” I asked quickly.
She replied crying more loudly “Doctor, I don’t real know but her father just bought the bottle yesterday and right now it is empty with just little on the floor. Doctor, help me. What do I do?
“How old is she?” I asked
“Three years old doctorrrrrr,” she was crying uncontrollably.
“Right now, what did you observe is unusual about her?” I quickly asked.
She replied distressfully “Doctor, I think she is feeling a little drowsy, I don’t know. Doctorrr, I am finished. Doctor, can I put hand in her throat to make her vomit the shaving cream” she asked in fear.
“Do not try it, please”, I promptly answered.
“My mother-in-law is suggesting we give her red oil and some herbal mixture she brought from the village”.
“So, doctor, what can we do right now?!” she asked crying.
“Okay, Mrs Victoria do you have milk at home? Please give her a little amount and rush her to the hospital now. I will be on my way to the hospital to meet you right away. Please also come with the container of the shaving cream”, trying to calm her down all would be well.
Shortly, I arrived hospital. Mrs Victoria also arrived, carrying the child running inside emergency room crying profusely. I collected the child from her, attended to her and admitted her. I also collected the container of the shaving cream from her to check the content to guide on the antidote to give. We did all the necessary treatment and made the child poopoo out the shaving cream and observed the child for 48 hours before we finally discharged them.
Smile returned to the face of Mrs Victoria, again, after two days on admission.The child was fine now. So as I was about to discharge them, I asked Mrs Victoria more about the incident, especially where all the adults in the house were when the child was in the bathroom alone drinking shaving cream.
She answered shamefully and regretfully that all of them were watching a TV reality show in the sitting room. Then she went further to blame the child for being too active, too.
“Doctor, this child is too stubborn. She doesn’t stay in one place. None of my other children are like this girl, doctor “.
After listening attentively to all the defence of Mrs Victoria, I invited her inside my consulting room to counsel her.
I asked her first to tell me everything she knew about safeguarding children at home to prevent them from accidentally poisoning themselves. She told me the little she knew. Then I went ahead to educate her as below:
▪︎Always follow instructions for usage of any medical or cosmetic products. There are always warnings on all household products and medicines. Take them seriously
▪︎Keep cosmetics, medications, and other healthcare products out of reach of children in child-proof containers. It’s always best to lock them up. Never underestimate your child’s ability to climb.
▪︎Store potential poisons in their original containers.Do not transfer them to food containers like milk jugs, coffee cans, or soda bottles.
▪︎Keep food and potential poisons separate; store them in different cabinets. Children can mistake the identity of products that look alike to them.
▪︎Return all products and medications to storage immediately after you finish using them.
▪︎Keep your children in sight all the times or make sure a careful adult is with them at all times to make sure they are not somewhere in the house drinking poison. When the house is quiet and you cannot see them, please quickly look for them, they may be somewhere in the house drinking or eating poisonous things.
▪︎Safely discard — into a sealed, outdoor trash can — all household products and medications that are are expired.
▪︎Be especially at alert at grandma’s house. Older people medication bottles are not childproof.Grandmas are also more likely to leave their medications out in the open.
▪︎Keep indoor plants out of reach; some may be poisonous and children may eat them
▪︎Keep children away from areas that have been sprayed recently with pesticides or insecticides
▪︎ Lastly, call your family doctor immediately you discover your children have accidentally drank or eaten any household product or medications they should not drink or eat.
I asked her if there were any questions. She said no.
She was very happy with the counselling as they were discharged to go home. She promised to abide by all the tips to safeguard the children at home. I asked the mother to bring her back one week after to see how she was doing.
As she left my consulting room and they both left the hospital, many lessons started running through my angry mind. Let me share the lessons with you below:
1. How can you have small children at home and all of you the adults at home were busy watching a TV reality show and forgot about them. This is unforgivable.
2. How can you blame a three years old child for eating or drinking whatever his or her hands found on the floor or blaming him or her for being too active.This, too, was unacceptable.
3. Then, as a father, how can you leave your shaving cream carelessly on the floor of the bathroom with children roaming the house. This, too, is a big mistake to be avoided at all cost, at all times because lives of some precious little beings are at stake.
4. Lastly, every family should have a family doctor that is committed to their families that they can call anytime in case of emergencies like chidren’s accidental poisoning to know the first aid to give before bringing the child to the hospital.
▪︎ Dr. Adewumi is a Family Medicine consultant, based in Kano. Follow him on Facebook at “FROM INSIDE MY CONSULTING ROOM “; his health page on YOUTUBE and INSTAGRAM @doctorhealtheducation; on Twitter @doctorhealthed1; and on WhatsApp at: +234 (0)806-864-9694. He gives daily education on health plus free daily consultation.