2.06.2007

horrifying

I read this headline and my heart sank.

Dad Admits Poisoning Kids' Soup

It's 1981 all over again. I was working in the Pediatric ICU in a major city in our fair country, and got assigned to take care of Q.

Q. was an 4 month old who was on a ventilator, and was now living in our long-term ventilator area with other kids who for one reason or another now could not breathe on their own. Q. had been fed Similac laced with Drano. His parents had been hoping for a big settlement with the formula giant. For a long time, they remained free to move about the country, as I guess it was difficult to prove which parent actually laced the formula. Their son, however, was tethered to a 4-5 foot piece of plastic tubing keeping him alive. His lungs were pretty trashed, even his heart was involved and he was on the list for a heart/lung transplant. He never had any visitors.

As I was a fairly recent mother of my own little boy, I used to bring in clothes and toys all the time. I'd take his laundry home once in a while, even though I only worked weekends at the time. As does happen from time to time when you're a nurse, Q. became one of my babes. Even if I had another assignment, I'd pop my head in for a little Hi, or a touch or something. He was pretty irritable for a very long time, as you might expect if your esophagus had been severely burned and your airway wasn't in great shape, either.

I'd bathe him, and rock him as much as he'd tolerate. I'd try to get him to look at toys, or listen to sounds. I'd hold his hand if he was just too sensitive to snuggle. He couldn't drink anything, but after a while, he could suck a pacifier to beat the band. We didn't think he'd make it a month, but he did. Then he made it two months, and three. Finally he had a birthday! We had a little party. He was responsive, and we were his family. He played, we played and that was life for a little one year old who was poisoned by the only two people he should have counted on.

One day, I hadn't been in for a while, and I went to say hi. His space was empty. No crib, no eggcrate mattress on the floor, no toys, no nothing. About a week prior, he'd gotten sick - a typical illness, but he was not a typical kid, and it killed him. I felt like I'd gotten slugged in the stomach. I don't know why, with these long-term kids, you start getting the idea they will always be there. Logically I knew better, but it was just so normal to see him, that the thought of that ending wasn't entertained. I know Q. didn't have the life he should have had. I know it wasn't a great life, but he was loved by us - and I'm pretty sure I'm not the only nurse who remembers.

So how does a parent get to the point where they'd poison their kids? In what kind of mind is it OK to hurt a child - YOUR child - in return for the possibility that you could get away with extortion? Is there an amount that makes it worth it? Or is it just the possibility? I'm not sure. But it happens. I've seen it too many times. Once is too many, and my little Q. was just my first.

I don't like to be reminded of that. And yet, I'm glad little Q. does get remembered now and then.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh what a story. It's unimaginable to me how someone can harm any child let alone thier own. How nice to know that in Q's very short life he felt loved. You gave him a very special gift. - your niece e

Lunasea said...

Ack. Good thing I've got lots of kleenex. That's one of the saddest things I've read. He had a better life at the hospital than with his parents.

Kim said...

Holy cow.....

Judy said...

The only way to deal with that story is to tell myself that his parents cannot have known how serious the damage would be. Terminal stupidity.

If I didn't believe that, I'd want to feed them some koolaid laced with drano.

I hope they remember Q and what they did to him every day of their lives.

faded said...

Maybe the parents should be made to drink the Draino.

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