Sunday, November 30, 2008

Battery Update

This morning I googled 'swallowed batteries' and there is a wealth of information out there on what to do if a battery is accidentally swallowed, who is at the greatest risk, how it happens, etc. The most comprehensive information I found here at the National Capital Poison Center and it's all especially helpful IF you know a battery has been swallowed. The good news is that 89% of ingested batteries pass through the system quickly but there is always the chance it can become lodged and cause serious damage in a very short time. They corrode easily in a warm wet environment and start leaking. It is imperative to identify the type of battery (numbers available on the package and printed on the battery itself) if at all possible, then to call the 24-hour National Button Battery Ingestion Hotline at 202-625-3333 IMMEDIATELY. They will want the battery after it is retrieved so save it.

The worst part is when you don't know that it has happened and have to go by symptoms. Hazel spent several days with cold symptoms, was finally taken to the ER where they diagnosed bronchitis and croup but never did an x-ray (whoever was on duty that day had to have been out to lunch to not check an x-ray on a 9 month old child who couldn't breathe!) Hazel was hospitalized for two nights but the antibiotics did nothing for her breathing problems (of course!), and she was sent home. That night she started throwing up blood and stopped breathing so 911 was called and she was returned to the hospital and finally got an x-ray at her parent's insistance. They saw 'a coin' and Hazel was taken by ambulance to Children's Hospital in Boston where the battery was taken out and the damage to her esophagus was scoped. After that, every day was a major emergency of one form or another. When her ventilator was removed the first time she again stopped breathing because the damage had caused swelling in her espohagus pressing into her windpipe so she was raced back to the OR and it was replaced.

She is now under heavy sedation taking some sort of paralytic drugs to keep her still as well as some pretty heavy duty pain killers. Every hand and foot has tubes and wires attached for her monitors. She looks so tiny lying in her bed with an entire room full of equipment and monitors and tubes all around her. There is one little leg that you can grab onto and hold, and you can stroke the top of her head. That's about all of the available space on her.

Yesterday was a 'good' day because there was no major crisis for the poor parents to deal with. But the news was that she probably won't have the ventilator removed for several more days, stay in the ICU for several days after that, then be moved up to the 'sick kid' floor for TWO MORE WEEKS to make sure she is healing well.

One of the comments from my original post about this suggested that perhaps the answer was not with regulating the batteries or adding warnings to the packages or limiting their use in kid's toys and those damn talking cards- it was suggested that maybe more careful child care was the answer. (I didn't publish the comment because it wasn't helpful under the situation, sorry)  Of course this is always important but I can assure him or her that this child is never left alone, never out of sight, never unattended. This was entirely out of the expectations of what was safe and what wasn't. They attended all the parenting classes, plugged up all the outlets, have never bought a plastic toy or a painted wood toy from China. They were warned about buttons and coins and stuffed toys with google eyes. No one ever mentioned these small batteries. These are, if anything, overprotective parents who do extensive research on which bottles are safest to use, which diapers are green. So, in this case, making unfounded judgment on how this happened is not helpful. It was an accident followed by the oversight of the hospital failing to get an diagnostic x-ray and you can leave it at that. May your own children grow up in a plastic bubble with no dangers. And that's the end of that.

For those of you without any young children OR old people in your houses, here is something you can do with your own old batteries. The good thing is it glues them all together so it makes them harder to swallow.


Del said...

Sandy - I am so sad to hear about your grandgirl's medical problem. I hope you will keep us updated in your blog. Perhaps the best deterrent to swallowed batteries is education and that is what you are doing in blogging about the problem. I've passed the information along to many online contacts around the world and I'm sure others have also. From this little girl's bad fortune may come help for many other children in the future. I'm sending bundles of good thoughts for Hazel. Del Thomas

Donna said...

This is just heartbreaking and I hope she makes a full recovery. D~~~~

Deb said...

Jeez Louse..I'm so glad she's getting all the medical care now. One doesn't want to dwell on how easily it could have been avoided.

I flashed back to changing a diaper on a very small baby, which one I can't recall, and finding a DIME in the poop. We got terribly lucky, Hazel didn't and I'm so sorry for all.

j.dávila said...

Oh Sandy, I've been thinking about you and your family non-stop since you first posted about this tragic accident. My heart is with you all and I am thinking strong positive thoughts for baby Hazel's health.

Please keep us updated and know that you are not alone.


Carol Dean said...

My heart goes out to you and your family, Sandy. This has got to be one of the hardest things for parents and grandparents to go through. Knowing there is nothing but loving you can do for her right now. *hugs*

Anonymous said...

Sandy, NO ONE has the right to comment on anyone's parenting skills at a time like this. This is the stuff of all of our nightmares - heaven knows how any one of us has escaped potential tragedy at every turn. Your Hazel's parents are to celebrated for their vigilance and persistence in taking the best of care of their baby girl. As a former NICU nurse, I know the sights and sounds that you are facing daily. Touch and sing and purr to your little one - it will sooth her and you. And we will all pray for easier days.
Kathy in Michigan

Lora Martin said...

Dear Sandy,

How horrible for Hazel and all your family. I am passing a link to your post to my entire mailing list because there are many new batteries coming into homes this time of year.

I'm sorry you were subjected to someone who felt it necessary to be judgemental. It doesn't help and it isn't relevent.

Your family will be in my thoughts and look forward to your posts celebrating improvement.

lyndasthompson said...

Sandy, I am so sorry to hear about your precious granddaughter's incident and health. I hope she recovers fully and without any damage. Praying for you and your family...

Susan said...

Sandy---I am sorry about your grandchild and I hope she heals well. Please be aware that Xrays have their own long-term risks in children and regular hospitals are not usually equipped with child-friendly equipment so please don't totally blame the ER doctor... they usually look for horses not zebras.

Judy Momenzadeh said...

Sandy--I'm so sorry to hear of this; it could happen to anyone. thank you for warning us all. You and your family are in my prayers.

Judy Momenzadeh <><

rosemary Claus-Gray said...

oh sandy, how wrenching. i am sending thoughts and prayers for this little one, and her whole family. love to you all, rosemary

Anonymous said...

Prayers for all your well being coming at you Sandy. What a trauma this must have been for you all. Carol

beth said...

Sometimes bad things happen, pure and simple. Despite our care and vigilance, our kids will still find ways to hurt themselves. It's a natural consequence of their curiosity.

All we can do as parents is our best and hope to forgive ourselves when it's just not quite enough.

Your family is in my prayers.