Category Archives: What’s Up Doc? Crazy Kid Emergencies

Puppy 911!

I knew it was going to happen. I just didn’t think it would be this soon.

Things have been going well with our new Golden Doodle puppy, Brady. He’s 12 weeks old (we’ve had him for 4 weeks) and growing quickly.

cute puppy eats poison on

He’s super smart and eager to please, and the indoor accidents are down to 1 or 2 a day, and that’s only if we’re not paying attention. He’s the perfect combination of playful and cuddly and has responded so well to puppy training I’m considering enrolling my 3 boys in a PetSmart class. Do they have obedience lessons for children?

But one thing he likes to do is chew. On anything. And everything.

It’s normal puppy behavior. We have commands that make him stop, and there are a dozen plush toys, knotted ropes, and rubber bones littering the floors of our living space to occupy his sharp little teeth. But sometimes, life gets in the way and we can’t watch him every minute.

That’s what happened one night this week when Brady got into some trouble. My 7-year-old, Eli was having a bad asthma attack so I propped him up on the couch with a mask on his face to breath in his Albuterol treatment through a nebulizer. (It looks and sounds much worse than it is.)

kid using nebulizer on

After the treatment, I put Eli to bed and came downstairs to watch TV. At some point in the evening– we don’t know when or how– Brady got a hold of a vial of Eli’s Albuterol medicine.

I heard him chewing on something, but it sounded like his rawhide bone. After a few minutes, I opened his mouth and realized it was an empty, chewed-up plastic vial. We could tell that it had been sealed, so he must have chewed it open and the liquid dripped out.

I tried to remain calm as it hit me that our unwitting puppy had just ingested poison. We couldn’t find any traces of the liquid so we had to assume he licked up whatever leaked out.

puppy eats medicine on

Remember my recent blog about how my 10-year-old son, Aden, hurt his shoulder and I neglected to seek medical attention for 3 days because I didn’t think he was really injured? And then it turned out to be a fractured collarbone, torn ligaments and a medium sprain? (Oops.)

Well apparently, with my kids, I’m willing to risk bodily harm, but I’m not taking any chances with Brady. (In fairness, if any of my toddler boys had ingested poison he too would be raced to the emergency room.)

As Wilson took to the internet to seek advice, I frantically called animal and human poison control, the vet, and the local 24-hour animal hospital. All concluded that Albuterol was BAD to ingest– especially for a 16-pound puppy– and required an immediate vet examination. I gave Wilson no option but to jump in the car with Brady at 11:45pm and head to the nearest animal hospital 30 minutes away.

Clueless little Brady made friends with everyone in the place with his tail-wagging and face-licking charm, and showed no symptoms of any distress. We were told the poison (if he ingested it) could cause heart problems, seizures, and/or disorientation. Although he showed no discomfort throughout the entire process, we were not willing to risk not treating him, especially since it was so late at night.

The vet hospital hooked him up to an IV with special fluids, fed him charcoal pills to soak up the toxins, and monitored him overnight. He came home the next morning exactly the same adorable puppy we know and love.

Except he did have a section of his paw shaved and taped where the IV was, which freaked the kids out a bit. But they slept through the whole trauma so Wilson and I bore the stress and guilt alone that night.

puppy eats medicine on

Brady biting at his taped paw after the vet removed his IV.

Good news? Brady is completely fine and now we know what to do in case of emergency and how careful we must be about watching him.

Bad news? That little visit cost $800!

Would love some advice on pet insurance from you dog lovers out there. Looks like we’re going to need it.

And the worst parent award goes to….

I like to keep it real with you people so I’m going to admit to a recent low parenting moment.

I was in the middle of a very busy day last week when my 10-year-old son, Aden, came home with an ice pack on his slumped shoulder and a miserable puss on his face. He’d been tackled while playing football at the park with friends.

He was wincing–but not crying– as he summoned all his medical knowledge to explain that he had dislocated his shoulder. I’m no doctor but I know that a dislocated joint looks nasty and causes constant pain and discomfort, similar to labor.

There was no way he dislocated his shoulder.

I was headed out to volunteer in my younger son’s art class and luckily my mother was visiting and agreed to stay with Aden while I fulfilled my smock duty.  I gave him a pain reliever and instructions to ice the spot on and off for the next hour.

But as I went through the motions, all I kept thinking was what a pain in the ass this sudden injury was and how it was completely disrupting my day. And then what a rotten mother I was to think such evil thoughts.

It’s easy to feel empathy and want to comfort my kids when they’re feverish or throwing up. I’ve been on many a playing field, clutching my stomach with worry over a bad hit or a wound gushing blood.

But this was one of those nebulous, ‘could be nothing’ injuries that drive me nuts.

By the time I got back, Aden was sitting on the couch, engrossed in some Disney channel show and seemed just fine to me. When he realized I was in the room, he grabbed at his bad shoulder and slumped it further down to Quasimodo standards.

It’s not that I thought he was faking exactly, but I was pretty sure he was experiencing a dull ache and a sharp need for attention. He continued to insist the shoulder was dislocated,  and whined about the pain.

I reluctantly called the orthopedist. The nurse said their X-ray technician had left so I could make an appointment– the soonest one was two days later.  Or I could go to the emergency room, wait two hours for an X-ray, and have a physician’s assistant tell me to go see an orthopedist.

I opted to wait and see.

I also called a close friend who’s an orthopedic surgeon who told me that of course he couldn’t diagnose him over the phone but he definitely had not dislocated it, and would probably feel sore for at least a week.

Both medical opinions made me feel a little less guilty that I was basically neglecting my child.

Aden slept fine and didn’t complain of pain in the morning so I sent him to school. Within two hours, I got a call from the nurse claiming he was in so much pain he couldn’t finish the day and I had to pick him up and not return until we had seen a doctor.  She didn’t ask him to take his sweatshirt off (a sweatshirt he managed to pull over his head without apparent distress that morning) to examine the injury, she just acted on his pain complaints.

Sprained arm on

Instead of feeling bad for the kid,  I was annoyed that I had to pick him up early and couldn’t get work or errands done. The nurse added to my errand list by suggesting I go immediately to CVS to buy Aden a sling to relieve his pain.

When I picked him up, he got in the car grinning and asked what we were doing the rest of the day, like it was a sunny Saturday afternoon.


(I’m a terrible horrible person.)

I was snippy with him in the car as we drove to CVS, and refused to get him candy at the register. “There will be no treats! There will be no TV! You should be in school!” I yelled. He shrugged his one good shoulder and skipped out of the store. We had tried on the sling to make sure it fit, and he was smiling ear to ear as we walked to the car.

” I kind of like it when I get to wear a cast or a sling,” he admitted cheerfully.

Remember, he’s my middle child of three boys. His brothers each have huge personalities, talk incessantly, and often suck all the air out of a room. So when Aden can briefly grab the spotlight, he milks it.

Realizing that made me soften a bit and drop my sassy attitude for the rest of the day.

The next morning, the orthopedist looked at the slight swelling in Aden’s shoulder and asked him to move his arms to demonstrate his range of motion. He took an X-ray and guess what?

Sprained arm on See the tiny little line at the end of his collarbone? Hairline fracture!

That little stinker has a medium sprain and torn shoulder ligaments and a tiny fracture on his collarbone!

It’s basically the equivalent of an adult’s separated shoulder, but kids are so rubbery and active, it heals much faster. Course of treatment? Three weeks in a fancy sling (upgraded from CVS model) and no activity whatsoever until he sees the doctor again.

I was surprised and chagrinned.

Sprained arm on

I still don’t think a trip to the emergency room was necessary that first day, but I might have offered a little more compassion.

In the end, Aden wasn’t looking for sympathy, he just liked having something that made him feel special.  Everywhere he goes, people ask what happened and he happily explains the injury and diagnosis in great detail.

I’m thinking the novelty will wear off in about a week when people stop asking and he realizes he still can’t play on his fall ball team or with his friends for another two weeks.  Then he’ll really need me, and I’ll make sure to be there for him.

That is, if I can work sensitivity into my busy schedule.

Soccer and sirens don’t mix: my trip to the ER

So this happened this week.

bos sports injuries ambulance

My 13-year-old son, Jacob, was playing goalie in a soccer game and got injured punting a ball. When he flung his left leg into the air to kick, he says he heard something pop and immediately fell down to the ground. When he tried to get up, the pain was so severe he couldn’t move.

I was at the game with my 7-year-old, Eli, but Wilson was at 9-year-old Aden’s soccer game in another town.  I felt a sense of dread as I watched the coaches kneeling next to Jacob trying to assess the injury. I willed him to get up– as I have hundreds of times before– but when he didn’t, I jogged over to see him.

He was weepy and whimpering, grabbing his thigh and stamping his fist on the ground in frustration.

I felt helpless.

Jacob told the coaches that on a scale from 1 to 10, his pain level was a 9. When they asked to carry him to the sidelines to rest, he winced and said he couldn’t move. Although he was able to wiggle his toes and it didn’t look like any bones were out-of-place, none of us wanted to move him.

With Wilson gone, everyone was looking to me to decide whether we needed to call an ambulance.  Although I worried about whether it was necessary, I didn’t think we had any choice since no one wanted to move him off the field without knowing the extent of the injuries.

A policeman, a firefighter, and an EMT were at the field within a few minutes. The EMT checked his hip and legs and asked him many questions before gingerly putting him on the stretcher. When I looked over at the other parents,  I could feel their worry, which made my heart sink. My gut feeling was that he was fine, but the gravity of the situation was humbling. A bunch of thoughtful soccer moms gathered Jacob’s bag and my purse and many offered to take Eli. As I spoke to them, the conversation felt out-of-body and cloudy.

My friend, Tami, said she would take Eli in my car and meet us at the hospital while I rode with Jacob in the ambulance. It was a quick and quiet ride and although all the color had drained from his face and he looked like he was in pain, I could tell he was already feeling better. The emergency guys were so sweet and easy with him, they set a tone of calm that I needed in the surreal experience. (They were also very cute and in spectacular shape, but I digress.)

boys sports injuries hospital

My friend Tami stayed with us the whole time. She’s a keeper.

After about two hours in the hospital– spent mostly waiting– he had X-rays and pain medication and they determined he had no broken bones but likely strained either his groin or thigh muscle, or both.

We were grateful it wasn’t anything worse– especially since he just started spring soccer and baseball season. The hospital gave him crutches and told him to rest for a few days.

I was relieved. Jacob– like any normal teenager– was annoyed and frustrated that he can’t move easily or play sports with his friends and teammates.

It was my first time riding in an ambulance, but my boys have been in the hospital at least 6 times. I guess it’s par for the course with 3 active boys– but it’s not something I’ll ever get used to. Do moms of girls make as many visits to the ER?

That brief moment of worry and seeing really sick people in the hospital was a reminder of how lucky we are to have healthy kids.

One of the silver linings of the experience was how Jacob’s brothers rallied around him when he was hurt. On the way to the hospital, Tami told me Eli kept telling her to drive faster and was rubbing his hands together repeatedly muttering “Please, don’t die, please don’t die...”

She pulled over and explained to him that that was not going to happen and once Eli saw Jacob sitting up in the hospital, he felt much better. Aden rushed into the house as soon as he got home from his game and blew past me to get to Jacob’s side to make sure he was ok.

Despite the typical bickering, jealousy, and indifference, those boys love each other.   Sometimes it takes a strained muscle to drive that home.

Bug in the Ear! Part 2

For those of you who read my post about 6-year-old Eli getting a bug in his ear (if you didn’t, you can catch up on the pesky pest here) here’s your update:

After two-plus harrowing hours in the Emergency Room, where doctors tried to extract a bug they weren’t convinced was in there, they sent us home.  Brave Eli woke up feeling much better and went about his day Sunday and Monday at school, with the mysterious invader still in his ear.

I took him to the ENT Monday afternoon and in 5 minutes they flushed this sucker out of his ear using a giant syringe filled with water.


Eli hated having something else shoved in his ear and complained of some pain and discomfort but the flushing process took all of two minutes. It was repulsive, but I have never been more thrilled to see a dead bug.  Wilson and I knew that creepy critter was in there but the doctors were skeptical because all we had to go on was Eli’s story.

The bug was the only explanation for the way he was screaming and flailing around. That black, hairy sucker was alive for a good 45 minutes buzzing his eardrum and trying to scratch his way out. We think the reason Eli finally calmed down in the second hour at the ER is because the bug died and wasn’t moving and irritating him anymore.

The doctor said there’s no damage to the ear or further danger but Eli’s taking antibiotic drops in his ear for a few days just in case. I’m happy to report that today he is deloused and pain-free.

For the record, the ENT said if this ever happens again (what are the chances?!) we should drop some mineral oil in the ear because it will kill the bug and ease out the ear wax until a doctor can remove it.

Good to know.