Thursday, September 29, 2011

Ingested Battery Adventure

My husband and I have over-baby proofed our house (if such a thing is possible), and consider ourselves safe parents. Furniture bolted to the wall and sharp corners covered; you know, that type of thing.

My youngest daughter, Allison, is an adventurer and stinker of high caliber. I once went upstairs for, I kid you not, one minute to use the bathroom. During that time, Allison managed to get her highchair, push it into the middle of the living room floor, knock it over, and climb on top of it. When I came back, she was proudly standing on top, hands on hips like she was the conquering queen of the living room.

Well, on this particular occasion, I came into the living room and noticed Allison's bright yellow toy phone lying on the floor with the battery cover removed. This was not any small feat. That battery cover was firmly fastened with a screw and taped over.

Paranoid parents that we were, we wisely decided tape would be in order just in case.

Well, Allison managed to pry the battery cover off; tape, screw and all. As I was picking up the toy phone and the slobbery battery cover, I saw the batteries had been removed. With a sharp, slightly panicked eye, I began to scan the floor for anything shiny. "There," I thought, "there is one. Two? No, there should be three!" I was on my hands and knees searching the floor when my husband, Jim, came in.

"I'm off to my dental appointment. What are you doing?" He asked.

He watched me for a few seconds crawling around on the toy-strewn floor muttering and cursing. He asked again, "Rose, what are you doing?"

I stood and looked at him. The panic set in a bit deeper and I blurted, "Allison ate some batteries!"

"Batteries!" Allison yelled. Then she began to giggle and crawl around on the floor, muttering and cursing like her mama.

Eyes wide, he asked me, "Are you sure?"

"No," I replied.

"No? No, she didn't eat batteries?"

"Yes. No. I can't find the batteries."

"So, maybe she ate the batteries?"


"Should I stay? Should we go to the clinic?" Jim asked. He was beginning to panic too.

We agreed I should go to the clinic with the kids and call him at the dentist if anything exciting was going to come to pass.

He left and I quickly picked up the phone and dialed the clinic. I explained to the woman on the other end what had happened and that I was going to drive over immediately. Then I figured out I had dialed the wrong number.

I tried again and the perky woman on the other end of the phone was very nice and said, "Yes - come quickly. I'll tell the doctor you are on your way and we can get you into x-ray right when you get here."

OK. Fine. When we arrived, the woman at the desk recognized us. We're regulars, you see, but I'll save those stories for another time. She led us back to x-ray and we waited. Allison and Ashley immediately began to argue over the magazines on the little table next to their seats.

"Calgon, take me away", I thought. Instead, the x-ray technician took me away with my children to get an x-ray of Allison's tummy.

We waited in x-ray and some minutes later the doctor arrived with the films in hand. "Yep. There they are." On the lighted box in front of me was my two-year-old's abdomen. Bright bones and other dense innards were immediately visible, but the most visible objects in the x-ray were the two batteries my baby ate. They were bright like two little moons at night and perfectly round.

The doctor explained that we would need to go to Children's Hospital to have them removed. The removal process would involve a sedative (for Allison, not me) and something akin to a plumber's drain snake.

I called the dentist's office and asked the receptionist to tell Jim to get out of there immediately and come home. "What's wrong?" she asked. I told her about the phone and the missing button batteries. There was silence on the other end of the line, then she said, "I won't ask. I'll tell Jim to get home. I hope everything comes out okay." I think she was trying her very best not to laugh. Rolling my eyes, I hung up the phone.

When we arrived at the hospital, the doctor announced that she had done a bit of research on button batteries while she waited for us to arrive, and decided it would be okay to let them pass.

I won't describe the ending other than to say everything came out okay with little fuss. You will have to imagine the details of that for yourself.

What I will tell you, though, is if you are the parent of a little adventurer and connoisseur of small objects, be wary. According to Safe Kids Worldwide (, in 2004, airway obstruction was the leading cause of accidental injury-related death among infants under age one.

We thought that toy phone was safe, but had we tested the cover, I bet we would have been able to remove the back with a little effort.

Preventing a choking accident is easy enough, so why not take these steps to be sure your home is safe?

Cut food into bite-sized pieces, and be especially careful of foods like hot-dogs and carrots.

Avoid letting younger kids play with balloons. They are easily popped and the little pieces are a definite choking hazard.

Take the time to look for small toys and items that may be on the floor or anywhere your young child can reach. This is especially important in households with more than one child. I am constantly picking up Allison's older sister's Barbie shoes and jewelry. This is a never-ending quest, and my vacuum has suffered greatly. Better the vacuum than my kid.

And, finally, it is always a great idea to bone up on first-aid. Check with your local medical center or clinic to see if they offer classes.

Obviously, I am not a doctor, so this is simply advice from one parent to another. If you have a serious choking accident (especially if your child is unable to breathe), call 911 or seek immediate medical attention.