Szyperski: What goes in must come outWritten by Shannon Szyperski | | email@example.com
An oversized serving of stress as of late caused me to start clenching my teeth at night, which, in turn, caused me a good deal of jaw pain during the day. When it began to affect my eating, I decided it was time to look into that “Me Time” I’ve heard so much about. Come hell or high water, I was going to lie on the couch and watch an entire TV show of my choosing.I wasn’t nursing my jaw back to health for more than four or five minutes when Lucy, my 3-year-old, dropped a piece of gum out of her mouth and onto the carpeting. She had promised that if I caved and let her chew it, she would surely keep it in her mouth until it was ready to be deposited in a parent-sanctioned ABC gum receptacle. In a shocking twist of events, it was deposited onto our family room floor after approximately 30 seconds of chewing, conservatively estimated.
The likes of a piece of gum on the floor is nothing new to our well-seasoned house and wasn’t cause for much concern. The concern came as our Dynamic Industrial Renovating Tractormajigger, aka our dog Rex, promptly sucked it up before Lucy could even utter, “Mom, I need another piece of gum!” I still wouldn’t have been terribly concerned had I not flashed back to my husband saying in the store checkout line, “Pick out a sugar-free gum so it doesn’t ruin your teeth.”
As with just about everything, what’s good for one thing isn’t so good for another. Sugar-free gum may keep the dentist away, but the poisonous-to-dogs Xylitol it contains demands an immediate call to the vet. Although it was just one piece and our dog is about 70 pounds, I decided to err on the side of caution. The vet decided to do the same in suggesting I induce vomiting, just in case.
Short story even shorter, 20 minutes into my “Me Time” I was on the ground with a pair of rubber gloves sifting through dog puke and gagging like it was my first day as a crime scene investigator. Thankfully, the tiny offender appeared during round one, rendering future rounds unnecessary. “Me Time” was officially a bust and we all went on with our regularly-scheduled programming.
A second round did make an appearance a few days later when Lucy, our featured player of the week, suddenly started crying hysterically in a room full of people who were not doing much of anything. “I swallowed the heeeaaarrrt,” she quickly informed us, fairly nervous. The heart? Oh, you mean the nickel-sized plastic heart bead we told you to keep away from your mouth over and over again? Another shocker.
After our rollicking game of “Immediate Canine Vomit Induction,” it was time to slow things down a bit and play the “Wait 36-48 Hours to See If It Passes” game. We’re not all that patient with such things, however, so we took a trip to urgent care to get a track on the intruder. In accordance with information supplied by one of my Facebook friends, plastic heart-shaped beads really don’t show up on X-rays. What does show up, however, is a metal zipper pull, which is worrisome when it is squarely lodged in the middle of an esophagus. Luckily for Lucy it was just an indication that the X-ray tech didn’t realize her dress had a zipper on the back of it.
In yet another twist, Lucy woke up the next morning coughing and with a froggy voice. Despite having been assured that the foreign object was at least off of harm’s path, I couldn’t help but wonder if it could have somehow sneakily made its way to the tracheal area overnight. I was equally, nay, 100 times more concerned a few hours later when Lucy started drooling suddenly and not speaking.
I frantically called my husband home from the chair he was about to get his haircut in to rush Lucy to the ER. When he arrived a few minutes later, however, she was off playing with her siblings. I still don’t know if she was sick, exhausted from her ordeal or just plain faking it. What I do know is that after three attempts, less than 36 hours and a whole lot more gagging, our long family not-quite-nightmare was over. In my wise words to Lucy in the midst of her trial, “We just have to catch your poop so we can find your heart.” And we did.
Two happy endings, but for some reason my jaw still hurts.
Shannon Szyperski and her husband, Michael, are raising three children in Sylvania. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.