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That Which Does Not Kill You Makes Them Laugh at You in the Break Room

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Have you ever called Poison Control?

When I was pregnant with our first baby, we called. Did I ingest Lysol? Was I overcome with ammonia fumes? Did I take too many prenatal vitamins? No. I ate an apple.

In the process of apple-eating, I accidently bit into several little black seeds which were clustered together. They were bitter and I tried to spit out the acrid taste. The word ARSENIC suddenly sprang to mind. Don’t apple seeds harbor arsenic, the same stuff Cary Grant’s ancient lace-wearing aunts used to put lonely men out of their misery? My unborn baby was inside. I could see the arsenic absorbing into my bloodstream. I envisioned it coursing through my body and into the umbilical cord of my baby. I told hubby what I had done—ingested apple seeds! He seemed unimpressed until I reminded him how apple seeds are little miniature bombs, loaded with nature’s own chemical warfare. I started sobbing.

He still wasn’t properly concerned, until I hysterically demanded he call Poison Control to see what the next step should be. He dialed. I curled into a ball on the couch, convinced I had done something horrible.

I have no idea what the person on the other end of the line looked like. I am pretty sure he or she was digging fingernails into his or her thigh to stop themselves from erupting into convulsive laughter at my expense. The Poison Controller assured hubby that all was well and I hadn’t just poisoned my baby or myself with apple seeds. I don’t think I quite believed it, but eventually I calmed down enough to give birth to her several months later, no harm done.

We called Poison Control for our dog about a year ago. I did not know you could call them regarding animals. While my husband dialed, I felt a little like we were calling 911 to report the shameless jaywalking of a grown adult—overreacting and wasting their time.

Our dog ate an ant poison spike, which had been shoved into the ground under a bush against the side of our house. We found the chewed up and empty spike in the yard. Our first call was to the vetrinarian, who was completely clueless—”Never heard of that poison!” Phone call #2 was to Poison Control. After giving pertinent information like her name (Junie), her weight (20 pounds), and her breed (aussie/dachshund mix), the operator looked up the name of the poison. It was called Avermectin.

It turns out that Avermectin is used in and on dogs to kill worms and fleas. Our dog ate such a small dose she would be fine. The disturbing thing is that her vet did not know this. To us, it would be like calling the pediatrician to report our child took too much Amoxicillin, only to be asked, “Amox-i-what?”

Poison Control is a critically important resource. I wanted to pass this along so others would realize Poison Control is quite knowledgable about animals and poisons, too. Pets aren’t known for having fabulous, keenly sharp discernment about what they eat and get into, so it is nice to go into the future knowing help is just a phone call away.

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  • comment avatar Shay March 28, 2008

    I’ve already called poison control 5 times and my son is only 17 months old.

    I cried because I lost a game of Mario Kart while pregnant.

  • comment avatar Adventures In Babywearing March 28, 2008

    Oh gosh, thankfully I’ve never had to call, but was there when my brother-in-law called because my niece had ingested a packet of silcon gel that comes in shoes. Apparently it’s not toxic unless eaten in large quantities. No ER visit, no stomach pumping. No harm done.


  • comment avatar Minnesotamom March 28, 2008

    Too funny, Gretchen! I was worried about this and that and the other thing while I was pregnant, too. My husband would just roll his eyes. Repeatedly.

  • comment avatar Sven March 28, 2008

    Not arsenic. Cyanide. Or more exactly, cyanogenic precursors. Compounds that when mixed with stomach acids, create cyanide. Apple seeds contain minute amounts. Peach pits however, contain larger amounts and really should not be eaten when pregnant.

  • comment avatar Heth March 28, 2008

    I think it takes a special person to be a poison control operator. I would LOVE to hear the stories they would have to share.

    I’ve called plenty of times myself.

  • comment avatar Amber Johnson March 28, 2008

    Re: Sven’s comment – who knew?

    I have yet to call Poison Control. Though the day I accidentally dumped about a gallon of bleach in my eye shortly after having my firstborn was an ER memory I would like to forget.

  • comment avatar horoscopicallyblonde March 28, 2008

    Oh, I’ve called poison control before. My toddler sucked on a book of matches, and we were instructed to administer ipecac syrup.

    It was the most. fun. ever.

    We sat with him in the bathroom for hours while he urped mightily into the tub.

    So much for Lucky (brand) matches.

  • comment avatar Jenni March 29, 2008

    Hey, after my dog ate the ENTIRE WAD of just-begun-rising cinnamon roll dough on Christmas Eve a few years back, a call to our vet revealed this very handy bit of info:

    If you get your dog to drink some hydrogen peroxide, it will make him/her barf. A lot.

    So we did, and she did, and all was well. If we had not she very well could have died of torsion of the gut caused by the swelling dough and that would have been a pretty sucky way to greet Christmas morning.

    Just thought I’d pass that along.

    LOL at your “I calmed down enough to give birth to her several months later”

  • comment avatar Lizzy March 29, 2008

    We had to call for one baby with toothpaste all over her mouth, and for another baby having Clorox toilet bowl cleaner breath. Luckily both babies are grown and healthy. I am so glad there was someone to call.

  • comment avatar Joy Opp March 31, 2008

    Ready for this one?… I had to call once when I was a teenager babysitting a toddler. He had disapeared into his parents bedroom during the 2 minutes I was doing dishes. I went in to find him eating… um… KY Jelly! Ah yes… that was a fun conversation with the parents when they got home!!! Hmmm… now that I think about it, that was the last time I babysat for them!

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  • comment avatar Crissi June 25, 2009

    LOL, I was incidientally just searching the web for anthying to reassure me that the two apple seeds I just chewed on accidentally, wouldn’t hurt my 11 week old fetus!! I feel like a real dork for worrying, but I’m one of the few people who can detect cyanide by ododr (I learned this in my biology class, when we did an experiment on detecting cyanide by smell) and the seeds I spit out smelled like almonds!! I just about went through the roof! Thanks for the reassurance that I don’t need to start panicking now!!

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