Last week, my daughter swallowed a penny. I had no idea what to do. First, I cried. Then, I called my mom. Neither option provided me with a solution. So I thought if I shared my story, and it happens to you, you won’t feel as lost as I did! If you have a spunky child, you just might want to bookmark this for the future…
Here’s how it all went down:
I had just buckled the baby and my almost-three-year-old daughter into the car as we were headed to the library and the park. I saw my daughter had found a penny and was playing with it. Since she tends to put things on her chin and her nose and touching her lips, I said “Keep it away from your face.” She’s been a fairly compliant child so far. I thought I could trust her.
About 1/2 mile down the road, I hear, “Mommy, I lost my money in my mouth.” from the backseat. “You what?” “I lost my money.” “What?!?” I pulled over into a parking lot and got out. I was already calling my mom. Why my mom? Well, she had been through this. Also at around 3 years old, my older sister swallowed a penny. She still has it stored in the piggy necklace someone gave her to commemorate the occasion.
My mom’s immediate response: “Go to the ER!” In my typical fashion, I replied, “Seriously?!” I did not want to go to the ER! But that’s what my mom did with my sister. After a few more minutes of discussing this, it was clear to me that 1. My daughter was not choking. 2.The penny was missing. 3. I needed a second opinion. and 4. I needed a quick cry.
I got the cry over with and called my daughter’s pediatrician. I didn’t want to make an appointment but I wanted to talk to someone. Unfortunately, I kept getting sent to the nurses’ voicemail box. So I called the next person who popped in my head: my friend, Kirstin. Kirstin is a great mom. And she is much more relaxed than me. We get along perfectly. (I am highly neurotic, she’s loosey goosey. It just works.) I called her because I thought there might be a chance that one of her kids had swallowed something over the past few years. And I was supposed to be meeting her at the library in less than ten minutes. She, sadly, did not have any experience in the matter but agreed with me that the ER sounded a little extreme.
Since I was still pulled over 1/2 mile from my house, I realized I was also only about a mile away from my kids’ pediatrician. Kirstin so calmly pointed out that I could just go to the office and ask for the nurse. Genius!
Two minutes later, we were at the pediatrician. We went in and I asked to talk to a nurse. The triage nurse came out, and on a side-note, I love her. She’s been at the practice since my son was born and I’ve really just become so fond of her. She knows my kids’ nicknames and treats them like her little buddies. I filled her in on our situation: “My child swallowed a penny.” And there my daughter was, looking totally normal, yelling at the fish tank, “Nemo! Nemo, Mommy! Nemo!”
The nurses pointed out: “She looks fine to me! She’s obviously not choking. It will pass in time.” Relief. Great. Now I can go to the library and the park and just wait for Abraham Lincoln to reappear in a few days.
While I was buckling everyone back into the car, the nurse came back out with a sad face. “He wants to do an x-ray.” She mentioned some things about the doctor’s concerns about pennies and corrosion and getting stuck at the top of the stomach… I was not listening well. I had already started unbuckling the kids again.
We went back in and saw a doctor. He checked her vitals and gave us a slip to go get an x-ray. The x-ray tech was about a mile back, right about the spot where she swallowed the penny. (I love our town. We have one stop light but about 1,000 doctors.)
The x-ray tech was this young guy, Scott. I could tell he was overwhelmed by my daughter (who kept doing twirls in the waiting room), the baby (who was starting to get fussy) and me (who kept taking pictures on my phone because the whole situation was just that ridiculous).
He took three x-rays and showed me them on a screen. There was the penny. In the stomach. It looked giant, like it was too big to fit in there. But, there it was. The doctor looked at the images and confirmed that it was okay where it was. My daughter’s pediatrician called and said the same thing. And that it should pass in a few days but to call if she had stomach pains or got “backed up.”
It’s been four days and we are still waiting. (UPDATE: It took 5 days! But it returned with only a little extra effort in getting it out! TMI? )
In case you are coming back to this bookmarked post because your child swallowed a penny and you don’t have time to reread the whole thing, here are the highlights:
My child swallowed a penny:
- If they are choking and cannot breathe, do the Heimlich and call 911.
- If it is stuck in their throat but they are still breathing, go to the ER.
- If they have swallowed it and seem ok, go to your Doctor anyway.
- Get an x-ray to make sure it made it all the way to the stomach.
- Wait. Inspect for the penny’s return as often as necessary.
- Try not to puke.
Have you had a child swallow a penny? How did you respond? Here is my favorite answer to this question that I received from a text:
Disclaimer: I am not offering medical advice, just sharing my experience. Always consult your doctor.