We all respond differently in crises, right?
I'm pretty much stone cold. In fact, I sometimes wonder why I'm cooler than a cucumber in a crisis, especially when it comes to my kids. Shoot, one of them could have an arm falling off and I'd be like, "Hold on just a minute, kiddo, I've got to put on my mascara before I turn on the sewing machine. I'll just do a few basting stitches before we go, just to hold it on while I drive you to the ER. Oh, and it's lunch time. Should we drive through and get some food on the way to the hospital?"
A couple of months ago (right before Halloween) we were getting ready for a family trip to the pumpkin patch (actually, our boys had behaved so badly in the week leading up to this excursion that we were actually just going to this produce stand on the side of the road to buy pumpkins).
I was getting dressed in our bedroom, and my husband was still in the shower.
Our oldest, age 7, came into the bedroom holding up a bottle of Goo Gone (it's this oily cleaner stuff that's supposed to get stains out - it's kind of like paint thinner).
"N just drank this," he said.
Our 2-year-old had taken the child-proof lid off the bottle and started to drink it (totally my fault - I'd been working on getting something sticky off a picture frame, and set the bottle of Goo Gone on the side table).
Our son is pretty responsible and had taken it away from her.
I read the back: "If ingested, call the doctor immediately."
No problem, I think. I can do that.
Our daughter is now coughing. Cough, cough. Cough, cough.
Of course, it's Sunday. The doctor's closed. So I call the answering service.
"Doctor Smith's office."
"Hello, my daughter just drank some Goo Gone, and the bottle says to call the doctor. Can I leave a message for a doctor?"
"Which doctor's office are you calling?"
Uh, didn't you just answer the phone with his name?
But now I'm thinking - the kid is coughing (Cough, cough. Cough, cough.) and my husband's going to freak if he gets out of the shower and I don't have an answer.
(He always thinks the kids are going to die. Once, our middle son - who was then 2 - fell on a weight bar in our gym and got a huge goose egg on his forehead. My husband reacted by covering his eyes with both hands. Really. True story.)
So I tell the girl the doctor's name again.
"And what happened?"
I explain. I add, "You know, I think this might be a little urgent, actually, so if we could, you know, just page the doctor and convey the urgency of the situation?"
"Yes, yes, of course," she says. "What doctor are you calling for again?"
My husband is out of the shower, and hears me explaining, again, that N swallowed the Goo Gone.
"Oh my GAWD, what are they saying? Do we need to go to the hospital?"
He's scooped N up now, and is saying, "She's coughing. Babe. She's coughing. Who are you talking to?"
I quickly explain that I'm leaving a message for the doctor, and add that he can call poison control while I'm still leaving the message.
"Where's the number?"
"It's on that paper inside the medicine cabinet. You know, that phone book page I tore out and taped inside the cabinet door."
"Where?! I can't find it!"
Still in his towel, carrying N, he runs through the house looking for the number.
Finally he finds it, calls it.
"I don't know why it's not going through!"
He's frantic. By now I've hung up the phone, and am waiting for the doctor to call back.
I call poison control. The man explains that N can get chemical pneumonia from this type of cleaner - which is where the chemicals get into her lungs. It can be dangerous. If her coughing doesn't subside within an hour we should take her to the ER immediately.
The doctor called back and said we should call poison control.
I relay all the info to my husband, then look at our home phone and see the number he dialed when trying to call poison control: the suicide prevention hotline.
In the end, everything turned out fine. N coughed her way through the pumpkin patch/produce stand, but recovered quickly. My husband wasn't so lucky. He's still feeling pretty silly about calling suicide prevention instead of poison control.
But fortunately, I think he'll live.