Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Just Say No

I would like to have a word with the people who bottle children's medicine. I have to assume that they are not parents themselves. If they are, they are the kind of parents that show up in the news: clueless, not forward thinking, bordering on dangerous.

At 2 a.m. there was a small but persistent knock on my door. Jacob had woken with an incessantly runny nose and headache. No cough, no fever, no sore throat, no mucus. OK, sounds easy. Into the bathroom we go, and open the medicine cabinet.

As I stood there with my astigmatism by the dim glow of the nightlight, the only thing I could see clearly was Jacob's worried face out of the side of my eye. I moved each bottle of medicine--cough, fever, mucus, allergy--close to my face, then farther away, then close again trying to read the 7-point font. Several of them were written in pink or green, perhaps to make them seem like more kid-friendly products. Once I was able to determine the right medicine, I had to rub my eyes a bit and move on to the dosage chart.

Does that say under 12 or over 12? Is that age or weight? OK, 1-2 teaspoons. No, tablespoons. No, teaspoons. Right. Now to pour it into the dosage cup.

Clear liquid filling a clear cup with clear, raised markings and numbers, also in a size 7 font, did not make the task any more reassuring. (At least they're consistent). My own head hurt by the time I got it all straightened out.

Finally resigning myself to the fact that it would probably be safe because it was less than half the bottle, I handed the cup to Jacob. He took it hesitantly, as children do when they know they're supposed to follow instructions but are beginning to doubt the source, and drained it. I didn't hear from him for the rest of the night, which I would normally consider a good thing. But I found myself sighing with silent relief when I saw his light on this morning, aware that I had not overdosed him and therefore would not have to wake him and send him to school in a drug-induced fog.

So to the people who bottle medications for children, I would like to request the following:

-Consider that 99% of children get sick in the middle of the night

-Consider that the majority of parents these days have their children later in life and are therefore likely to need reading glasses before being able to read the bottles.

-Consider that most reading glasses are not kept in medicine cabinets.

-Consider that, though parents have trouble seeing tiny print in the middle of the night, they are not really blind by traditional standards. Raised, clear numbers and markings on dosage cups are all but useless.

-Tiny, pink and green fonts do not show up well in sunlight, let alone in a windowless bathroom at night.

In short, USE BLACK. WRITE BIG. All medication must go through the parents to get to the children. Serve us well and you will provide much better care to the children.

A concerned mother

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