Wednesday, June 6, 2012
When children make poor eating choices, and other mushroom adventures
Can I just start off by telling you that I was making wild mushroom risotto for dinner? It was going to be delicious. Alyce and Shira were playing in the backyard, as they always do around the time I'm cooking dinner for the grown-ups (Matt gets home too late for the girls to wait for their dinner, so I make two dinners. It's not my favourite thing, but it's a temporary adjustment until we move and Matt stops commuting!). Anyway, after Shira woke up from a long afternoon nap we made muffins for dinner. Yes, muffins for dinner. Chocolate chip muffins. Sure, it's out of the usual dinner realm, but these muffins contain the following ingredients: leftover steel-cut oatmeal, whole wheat flour, 4 tbsp sugar or honey, an egg, some milk and butter, a handful of raw millet seeds, and yes, some chocolate chips. I can think of a lot of meals that might appear more on par with dinnertime that aren't nearly as good as these muffins (you can find the exact measurements here, from Soule Mama). So they baked them and they ate them. Things were going well.
That is, of course, until Shira started eating mushrooms growing randomly in the backyard.
Or at least I think she was, because the combined accuracy of two and four year old children is pretty terrible. I went outside to investigate the original claim, that according to Alyce, Shira was into the mushrooms. What mushrooms? I wondered. There they were growing all over the back garden and grass. Shira had a fistful in one hand and was grabbing at more with the other. Alyce (I think) understands that we can't eat random mushrooms we find outside (and has also extended that rule to apply to any and all mushroom varieties found in the fridge), but Shira, no, Shira doesn't know this rule. So I asked Alyce and Shira, both, to fess up about whether any of these mushrooms made it inside Shira's mouth. Shira told me, yes, she ate them and they were in her belly. Alyce confirmed Shira's story.
Do you believe young children when they are smiling and prancing around in a field of mushrooms? I wasn't buying it. I even told Alyce that I didn't believe her, which of course now I regret tenfold because that's just a crumby thing to say to a kid who tries so hard to follow the rules. But in the end, I sort of had to believe them because the alternative was a two-year old maybe succumbing to mushroom poisoning, and I also wasn't having any of that. I called Poison Control (the kind woman kept calling me Dianne, but I got over it) and they told me to get that child of mine to the hospital. They couldn't tell what kind of mushrooms she ate and wouldn't take the chance. Bad mushrooms could do leagues of damage to her liver and I spent far to many months growing that liver to take the chance that one handful of bad mushrooms might destroy it. I like that liver, and Shira too, so off we went. Fortunately Matt was home with the car in five minutes and off Shira and I went to the hospital.
Alyce, of course, was devastated that she couldn't come with us to the hospital. Her eyes were big with concern for Shira (and she even offered her best Bear for the trip) and I think she was a bit frightened. Lucky for her she was able to dull the pain with not one, but two bowls of ice cream while she awaited our return. This morning when she woke up I shared with her our hospital adventures and apologized for not believing her.
But back to the mushrooms. Poison Control called ahead to the hospital and we were given a bed in the ER right away. I should have known our night was going to suck when the nurse told me this isn't going to be pretty. They were going to fill my Shira's belly with charcoal, they explained, to absorb and neutralize the potential toxins. I will spare you most of the details, but I will tell you three things:
1. Shira does not enjoy have 8 large vials of charcoal shoved down her throat.
2. Children will not believe you when you tell them that charcoal is chocolate milk.
3. The entire emergency room floor is now familiar with my daughters screams.
I'll share one more thing, too. Breastfeeding came to the rescue (can I get high five for breastfeeding toddlers?). Shira was sobbing and screaming and I was sobbing right there next to while I held her down on the bed for the procedure. But between vials the nurses would let me hold my charcoal covered baby and breastfeed her. It didn't solve all of Shira's problems but it made a difference. She found some comfort in the middle of a terribly uncomfortable situation. All in all the charcoal treatment took about 45 minutes (halfway through I texted Matt to come to the hospital because I needed moral support and a change of clothes), and the rest of our time at the hospital was a breeze. We were there until 11:30 pm, having to wait six hours since the time she ate the mushrooms to rule out any toxicity. Shira didn't sleep a wink at the hospital, but she did a lot of the following: eat french fries, drink real chocolate milk, play with face masks, entertain the nurses, breastfeed some more, watch Dora on my iphone. She's feeling better today and we have a quick follow-up with the pediatrician.
Have you or your children ever snacked on the odd poisonous plant or fungus? Shira takes after it honestly. When I was four I ate the end off the leaf of a poisonous plant and holy cow did that burn my mouth. In my defense I was trying to imitate a ballerina who was dancing on tv holding a leaf and I was just trying to get my own proportions right. And you?