Proverbs 31 Mama-prenuer - Stephanie12:00:00 AM
I am really thrilled that Stephanie decided to share this post with us. It is something when she told me I was completely in shock! I asked her if she would be willing to share to YOU so that more parents can become aware of certain dangers I never even thought existed before. She is strong and courageous to have said yes and I am thrilled to introduce her! She has two adorable children and a very loving husband.
On Friday, August 17th, roughly around 1:15/1:30PM, I met my husband and two children (Sydney who is 5 and Madden who is 23 months) for lunch at our favorite restaurant along with our friend Dan and his son Nolan. Everyone had just been seated in the outdoor patio when I arrived. Madden was sitting in a chair by our friend Dan and I remember contemplating moving him to his high chair because it was in the sun and he is very fair so I didn’t want him to get burnt. As I said hello to the children, and made my way to my husband at the other end of the table, the waitress was ready to take our order.
In the middle of ordering, we heard Dan say, “No Madden!” Startled by his tone, we looked, and Madden had come to a standing position and was coming out of the act of putting his mouth up to the oil fueled candle (Hallowick) that was positioned on the table in a pretty silver canister. Madden displayed no reaction of getting the oil in his mouth therefore we ruled out that he had ingested any. A couple minutes later, I and placed him in the high chair between my husband and I. I gave Madden some water out of a plastic children’s cup. Madden immediately started choking and coughing. (This was much like the response one would have if they drank water and it went down the wrong pipe.) I began searching the table of something he could have choked on. There was nothing. Our food had not arrived yet- so choking on an object was out of the question. My friend Dan finally had suggested that possibly he got some oil on his tongue and when Madden drank the water, it washed it down his throat. Roughly 5 minutes had passed and his condition did not improve. In fact, it worsened with coughing, wincing, perspiration, and tiredness. He complained, “Owie, owie. It hurts. Hurts.” His breathe subtly became abnormal. He would hold it and then let air out, and this became the general manner in which his breathing continued. Patrons around us became alerted as well as the waitress.
I called Poison Control and described the situation. Poison Control said that they did not think the coughing was due to the inhalation of the lighter oil. They said if he got any in his mouth that it couldn’t have been much to do harm nor did it sound like he ingested any since he did not respond immediately with the coughing. They said often chemical inhalation does not show up immediately and it could even take days to have a response. As I was talking with Poison Control Madden became drenched and lethargic, but Poison Control did not seem too concerned and correlated his tiredness with our information that this was Madden’s naptime. They advised us to take him home for a nap and would call us back to check on Madden. We were to call them if Madden started vomiting or having any further symptoms. In the meantime, Madden remained in my husband’s arms where he was falling in and out of sleep- with intermitant coughing every 15-20 seconds accompanied by abnormal breathing. My husband took my son home to rest about 2:15ish upon the advice of Poison Control. I arrived with my daughter Sydney at about 2:30PM at the house. When I walked in my husband was just coming out of my son’s room. He said Madden was sleeping but his breathing was still abnormal and getting worse. I went in to check on him and immediately told the family we were going to the hospital. To confirm my decision, I called my brother Billy, who is a Family Practice physician in Dallas. Billy confirmed that this was the right thing to do.
We piled in the car, Madden listless in his car seat. I stayed close to him to keep him alert. In route to the hospital, I called our pediatrician’s office on the way to report the incident and see if they wanted us to go to the hospital or to their office. The nurse advised us to go to the hospital and would announce to the hospital that we were on our way. Poison Control called at 2:49PM on our way to the hospital to see how Madden was doing. I let the dispatch know of his state, especially his breathing, and let them know of our decision to go to the hospital. They too said they would let the ER know we were on the way. During our drive to the hospital, both Poison Control and the pediatrician’s office called back to tell us to pull over and call an ambulance. We were a minute away so we decided to have no further delay and get him to the hospital. We arrived and they took Madden back. His state had not changed- still lethargic, coughing and belabored breathing. The intake nurse took his vitals and the doctor him soon thereafter. The doctor stated he did not think his condition was because of the inhalation of the oil, initially but of course said it could be a possibility. He said it could be a simple case of a virus.
After further examination, Madden threw up. The doctor immediately ordered a chest X-ray which showed fluid in his left lung. He was diagnosed with “pneumonia”. The doctor stated the next course of action would be to determine the type of pneumonia- virus or chemical due to the inhalation of the oil. So, immediately he was treated with IV antibiotics and morphine to help with the pain Madden was experiencing and to calm him down after the IV was placed. The doctor admitted Madden to the Salem Hospital for overnight observation, warning us that if this was chemical pneumonia this was the best place for Madden in case he should need oxygen or breathing treatments. (Unfortunately, you cannot treat this condition per se; you can only treat the symptoms until the body heals itself of the chemical ingested.) In the morning, we would be able to confirm the type of pneumonia he had with another X-ray. If the X-ray showed improvement, this would mean the antibiotics were working and we could confirm this was virus. If not, they would determine this was a chemical pneumonia. That night was the most sleepless night my husband and I have ever had in our entire lives, even with a newborn. Madden’s oxygen remained at 80-90%, he ran a high fever, and his sleep was interrupted by moments of breathlessness, moaning from the pain, and continuous poking and proding by the nurses. There were moments of terror when the monitor started beeping and alarmed the nurses his oxygen levels were dropping. The respiratory nurse was near and they decided to give him a breathing treatment to see if it would help him with his breathing. Madden was a rock star! We held him as the Respiratory nurse held the machine up to his nose. He breathed in the steam and it was like there was an angel upon him- telling him to be brave and calm. Madden breathed more comfortably but still struggled.
The next morning we were eager to have his chest X-ray. Promptly at 7 a.m., the transportation nurse wheeled Madden and I down to imaging. This time, the small pocket of fluid that showed on his left lung 14 hours earlier showed both lungs completely full of fluid. At this time, the doctor was able diagnose him with chemical pneumonia due to the ingestion of the lighter oil fluid. The doctor stated Madden would need to remain in the hospital until his vitals were stable, temperature normal, and breathing stabilized and that this could take 24 hours or weeks. Only time would tell. He continued to be monitored that day with a scheduled chest X-ray at 5PM. Madden was a champ and his day ebbed and flowed with moments of light and struggle. Fever and breathing continued to be an issue for him but his bright spirit kept us hopeful. Again at 5PM, we made our way down for another X-ray only to show his lungs were not worse, but they were the same. We had a heart to heart with the nurse that night and asked her to be candid with us with what we were up against. She said out of all the cases she has seen with oil ingestion, Madden was doing fairly well. All other instances the little ones were on ventilators and in the hospital for some time. She said that oil is the worst because it coats the lungs and when the child needs oxygen- it’s like oil and water. So the recovery and treatment can be a struggle. She kindly prepared us for another night of breathing treatments and unstable vitals.
That night- to everyone’s pleasant surprise- Madden’s vitals, breathing and fever subsided. Again, it was as if he had been touched by an angel. On Sunday morning the doctor and Poison Control agreed that the worst was over and that Madden could return home with a follow up appointment in 2 days. I am happy to announce that today Madden is doing amazingly well. He is home and we are grateful that he is alive. We consider this a fair warning to us and to others that we can share with. My way of healing from this event is by bringing awareness to the safety risk of oil candles. As is the responsibility of the parent to look out for knives, forks, glassware, and wax candles, we need to add oil candles to the list.
DISCLAIMER: We, the parents of Madden - Stephanie & Rick- DO NOT hold the restaurant at fault for this accident. This simply was an accident that happened on its’ premises. Our intent with this report is to raise awareness to restaurants and the community that these oil fueled candles can pose a safety issue for babies, toddlers and small children that grab a hold of them and accidently ingest them.