every four to six hours

Have you ever had one of those days where you misread a label?  Maybe you put a cup of salt where a cup of sugar was supposed to go?  Or perhaps you poured dish soap where the dishwasher detergent belongs. 

Both would be equally bad. 

An apple pie filled with salt is not a tasty treat.  And a steady stream of bubbles pouring from the sides of a dishwasher makes for a very soapy kitchen floor.  Still…neither of those things are life threatening, just messy.

I know I’ve had my share of “oops” moments.  I was the one who left the pot filler faucet running to flood my stove, not so very long ago.  But today, a misread label could have led to tragedy. 

It all started with my seventeen year old daughter and a case of the sniffles.

She went to the medicine cabinet to find something for cold symptoms.  She settled on an allergy relief medicine that is also recommended as a sleep aid.  She read the label and took the recommended dose.

Or so she thought.

What she read was, “Take four every six hours.”  What was actually printed on the label?  “Take every four to six hours.” And the dose was one or two capsules.  Not to exceed six in a twenty four hour period.  

When I discovered that she had taken twice the recommended dosage, I (for lack of a better phrase) freaked out!

It had been more than an hour since she had taken the medicine and she was barely able to keep her eyes open.  But she was able to tell me how much she had taken, and she was still able to do that with the snark and sarcasm one would expect from a teenage girl.  

After she drifted off to sleep, I debated calling an ambulance, but when I poked her, she would whine and bat my hand away, so instead, I checked on her every few minutes for about six hours. 

She slept for almost seven. 

When she was finally fully awake (just a few short hours ago), I explained to her why I had been so worried, and why it was so important to read the label before taking any over the counter medicine.  After a few moments of quiet reflection, the girl who sarcastically informed me that she was supposed to take four capsules every six hours, laughed and told me that it was a good thing she wasn’t going to school to be a pharmacist.

I concur.

Until the next time…I will be double checking the labels on all of my medicine for a while.

Copyright © 2000-2018, Erica Lucke Dean. All rights reserved. Any retranscription or reproduction is prohibited and illegal.
Posted on January 20, 2011 .