One fine evening last week, Avanee was eating rice with me as we watched our favorite show on television. (No, it wasn’t CBeebies; it was a regional Marathi serial that is probably inappropriate for her age but she likes to see the old grandmother in it…there I go justifying myself again.) We polished off a plate and I went into the kitchen to put the plate in the sink. Barely five minutes later, when I returned, I found myself flung into this scenario:
- The baby-proof lock on the side table of my bed was unlocked and the drawer was open.
- Avanee stood next to it, my (old albeit undiscarded) Insulin syringe in her hand. The needle was bent, the cartridge loaded to about 40 units.
- “Tuchuk, bau-bau!” she said the moment she saw me and proudly displayed a red spot on her tummy where she had pricked herself.
It is a miracle that I did not faint. And it is a mercy that my pediatrician lives just a few floors below me. On the phone, he first told me to rush her to the hospital immediately. Meanwhile, I had shoved a couple of tablespoonfuls of jaggery in her mouth and called MK. We took her downstairs to see the doctor, who told us to keep checking her sugar levels every hour of the night and to rush her to hospital if the levels dropped below 70. We called my diabetologist who said the same thing. Mercifully, we could spare her the trauma of going to the hospital. But all of that night, between fighting tears and murmuring prayers to a god I had forgotten all about, I pricked my daughter’s fingers every hour until a globule of blood emerged so I could stick a strip in it and wait for the meter to show me three-digit figures. MK held me all night while he brushed Avanee’s lips with honey that she licked in her sleep. When 12 hours finally passed, we heaved a sigh of relief and informed the grandparents that everything was alright.
She probably had not injected any insulin considering that the mechanism of the pen is difficult for a toddler to operate. Besides, she might have been shocked at the prick itself. But I can’t help thinking:
- Should I have kept the insulin (or any other medicines) at such a low level?
- Shouldn’t I have made sure I discarded the cartridges and needles from all the pens once I was put off insulin?
- Would this ever have happened if I was healthy enough not to need insulin or any other medication?
- Couldn’t I have just shut the door to the bedroom?
It has been over a week since this happened and yet, I cannot bring myself to sleep at night. It gives me the shivers to think about that moment again and I have been resisting writing about it (who likes to be judged like that?) but I have realized (once again) that writing on the blog liberates me. So here I am, a horrible, horrible mother but a very earnest one all the same.
May this never happen to any child or any mother.
P.S.: Thank you, god.