the measuring cup

“I’ll get you some medicine,” said Jeremy, and a minute later handed an earachey Claire a third of a measuring-cup-worth of acetaminophen (or paracetamol as they call it in the English-speaking world).

That’s when I realized I’d accidentally overdosed her the night before. This despite the dangers of doing so being tattooed on the inside of my eyelids.

Without timely treatment, paracetamol overdose can lead to liver failure and death within days.

By the time we saw our pediatrician, he (the pediatrician), Jeremy and I had all independently worked out that based on her weight and the concentration of the liquid I had actually only given her a double dose, whereas it takes ten times the recommended dose to cause toxicity.

Claire is perfectly fine.

And Wikipedia goes on to describe:

…children having relatively larger kidneys and livers than adults and hence being more tolerant of paracetamol overdose than adults. Acute paracetamol overdose in children rarely causes illness or death with chronic supratherapeutic doses being the major cause of toxicity in children.

All of which said, acetaminophen (or paracetamol) is a very potent drug with a frighteningly inadequate buffer zone between a safe dose and tragedy. Which tragedy I rehearsed, over and over, on the drive to the pediatrician, trying to answer Claire’s questions brightly and not burst into tears.

I fully expected the pediatrician to yell at me, and I fully deserved it, but instead he told me about a time a kid drank turpentine on his watch. The kid was fine. The doctor is a very kind man. And he’s right about one thing: I won’t make that mistake again.

“Mum, can you carry my backpack?” Claire asked as we left.

“Sure,” I said, thinking ‘Girl, if it comes to it, you can have my liver.’

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