A Penny Saved, a Date Night Lost: Lessons from the Trampoline

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A penny saved...is removed from my daughter's esophagus. Apparently.

Dear Lizzy B., and parents everywhere:

So. That happened.

Even really really smart people do really, REALLY stupid things. I know this. And I have heard all the stories, anecdotally, from parents who talked about crazy stuff their kids have done and thought, haha, kids, amiright?

Well. Allow me to explain the reality of an experience like this:

Friday evening, Miss Plum was scheduled to be picked up from school by a friend's mother and attend a sleepover birthday party. MUCH anticipation and glee, for her AND for The Sainted Husband and me, since it means FREE DATE NIGHT. Free Date Nights are about as common in our house as green zebras in Manhattan might be, and Liz, we were out of our heads in giddiness.

"We could do ANYTHING! What do you want to do?"

"I don't *know*; we could do ANYTHING!"

Ultimately, we decided the idea of an uninterrupted meal and perhaps some adult beverages fairly close to home was a good way to spend a Free Date Night. So we were driving from my office to our much-anticipated evening out when my cell phone rang. Caller ID said it was the family with whom our daughter was staying. Not a good sign.

"Hello?"
"Hi, Liz, it's [parent of sleepover's birthday girl]. So, I'm calling because the kids were playing outside and [Miss Plum] evidently has swallowed a penny."
"...she...what?"

So we chat and kind of think the whole thing is more or less funny; my child is distraught because she knows she screwed up, and PS this might eff up HER evening out and THAT would be THE WORST THING EVERRRRRRRR and omg kid YOU are the one who put a penny in your face, so DON'T.

I told Very Patient Sleepover Hostess I'd call her back after I checked in with our pediatrician to be sure it was all cool; after all, she'll just have to poop the penny, right? (And Liz, that is not a phrase I ever thought I'd be uttering, I can just tell you that right now.) So I call the ped, whose office is naturally closed, and await a callback from the on-call doc. Doc called swiftly, I explained what was going on, and doc was like, yeeeeah, so, that's an automatic chest x-ray. Because the coin can get stuck in the esophagus, and that's potentially dangerous, so. You're going to have to take her to urgent care or the hospital and get that done.

~cue record scratch noise~

Feeling our Free Date Night evaporate into the ether, we called the Very Patient Sleepover Hostess and told her we were coming to get Plum, spoke to distraught Plum to calm her a bit and let her know what we needed to do and why, and proceeded to go get her.

Even at that point, Liz, I didn't think this would end up quite the saga that it did. Here's what Plum said when asked why -- WHY IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT IS HOLY -- did she put a penny in her mouth? "Well, we were going to the trampoline, and I found the super shiny penny. I was wearing my swimsuit so I didn't have any pockets? And if I put it down, it might get lost or somebody might take it? So I didn't want to lose it and so I put it in my mouth."

And got on the trampoline. You know. Likeyoudo.

Five jumps later, the penny, as they say, dropped. (Though I don't think this is what they meant in that idiom.)

At this point, there is just too much; let me sum up: First hospital did the x-ray you saw above. That took until after 9pm to wrap up. They then came in and started an IV (another first for Plum I wish we could have avoided for her), and told us they'd have to transfer us to a different hospital that had a dedicated pediatric unit in order to observe her overnight. UNEXPECTED. Evidently when the coin gets stuck this way, kids have to stay under observation in case, if it moves, it might move in the wrong direction, whereupon it can get into the airway, and that's BAD, mmkay?

SO. We went to the other hospital, where the pediatric folks took fantastic care of her and of us, and we waited all night to see if the penny would move.

It did not.

Therefore, Saturday morning (our date night having been spent mostly sleepless on the ill-named "Sleep Chair" in her room), they came and got her and took her down for her first experience with general anesthesia.

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