Saturday, January 19, 2013

When your child swallows a foreign object.

Caleb swallowed a quarter yesterday.  At first I did not believe him.  I've never been worried about quarters.  We have them in the cup holder in our car.  I occasionally let Caleb look at the pictures on them. I always told him not to put them in his mouth.  Kids put everything in their mouths! You can't trust them. 

  He had been playing with toys on the floor and hopped up on the couch next to his big sister playing with the Wii.  Then he got this surprised face.  I figured he had something in his mouth.  He's always chewing on scraps of paper etc.  He gagged he put his hands down there.  I tried to look but didn't see anything.  Usually I let my kids clear their own airways.  I've never had one choke on anything.  He was still breathing so I wasn't very worried. Finally he swallowed really hard. I could tell it didn't feel good going down. I took him to his room for a diaper change and I said what did you eat?  "Money" he said... that made sense from the way he acted, but I knew there was no pennies or dimes or nickels lying around.  I showed him a handfull of change asking which one he ate.  He picked up the quarter.  I didn't believe him. I've never been worried about quarters because they are so big.

 I called the ER (since our Dr. is not open on Friday afternoonsI told the ER nurse that he said he swallowed money. She assured me over the phone that it was not possible for a 23 mo. old to swallow a quarter.  She recommended that I bring him in for an x-ray.  So I took him in for his first non-well child medical visit-- to the ER (first time taking a child there).  After a lot of waiting at the hospital, we confirmed it was a quarter (see image above), which made things a little more complicated. 

  The quarter is in his stomach but they worry that it will not pass through his pyloric valve.  If it blocks things off or get's wedged, it might make him vomit. In which case I need to call them.  I also need to religiously check his diapers.They say if it hasn't passed by Monday morning I need to call back and come in for x-rays to see if it has made it into the intestines.  If it's still in his stomach they'll be having the pediatric gastroenterologist from the big city a few hours away use a scope to bring it back out through his mouth. I sure  hope we don't have to do that.  It was rough enough going down I don't want it to have to go back that way. They sent us home.  I was staying positive and hopefulMy husband decided to go on the camp out with the scout troop and we settled back to normal for the night.

  At 3:30 am I woke up to get Caleb a snack (he often wants some milk & sometimes crackers this time of night).  I couldn't get back to sleep so I got on Facebook:
"Okay, now I'm up and getting sick to my stomach (stressed). I'm reliving watching Caleb swallow the quarter... he gagged and was distressed (I didn't realize what was going on or that whatever it was was lodged at the back of his throat, because he was breathing and coughing... wish I got better lighting to look down there (before he swallowed it really hard)... I might have gotten it out). PLEASE PRAY that it will pass his pyloric valve and keep moving smoothly. I really don't want him to have to have it pulled back up with the scope. I know that will be painful/uncomfortable. I'm also getting worried that if it won't go through, his system may try to vomit it back up and I think it would get lodged on the way back up. I hope it passes through soon! The longer it's in there the more worried I get."

  Many friends said not to worry.  I still did, especially since he wasn't sleeping very well. I decided to prepare for the worst.  I went out and put my car seats back in our car (hubby had changed them out because he almost took our car to the camp out because of gas mileage.  The scouts needed more room for gear so he came back home and traded back).  I got things ready in case I had to haul the kids, one possibly puking, into the ER.  I was feeling a little less stressed and got back to sleep around 5.  Of course I had a bad dream about it... can't really remember exactly but it involved Caleb throwing up.

I made a video asking Caleb about the experience.  It's kind of funny how he doesn't really understand what happens to things that we eat.

I can't get this video to load... maybe it will work later.

Today we're home while my daughter plays at a friend's so I decided to get out the metal detector and track the coin's progress.  It hasn't gotten very far.  He thinks it's a fun game.  I'm excited to use this to check the diapers instead of using traditional methods.

I'll definitely post a follow-up when the quarter makes it's way out (hopefully on it's own).

My sister-in-law's sister said they're kid swallowed a penny a month ago.  They didn't take him in and are still curious if it's made it's way out.  They should find a metal detector.  I've looked online and read a lot.  It seems 7-14 days are common for passing a penny. I hope Caleb's travels faster.

Something also interesting from yahoo discussion:
"That's interesting because a girl I knew went for a "colon cleanse"
treatment where they flush out your bowels and several worn
coins came out. She was in her 40's and they told her those must
have been in there since she swallowed them as a child. The dates
were worn off but the girl said she never remembered swallowing
coins. Her mom had died earlier so it remained a mystery. Maybe
you will get lucky and your daughter will pass the quarter. If she's
only 4 I would think she will feel pain when it comes through, because she'd still be pretty small".

A lot of people on discussion boards say their kids have never swallowed coins before. I bet several had, they just didn't know about it.  I'm going to use the metal detector on my daughter when she gets home. I'll do the hubby too and he can do me.  Just for curiosity's sake!


  1. He had 2 diapers on Saturday, 1 yesterday... nothing in them. Still getting a strong beep from the metal detector above his belly button. Nothing to check yet today. I have to call them back by noon :o( not excited.

  2. correction, he just made another cashless deposit.


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