1989: A Pivotal Moment in My Life; Why I Do What I Do

I was walking up the stairs of  my Mum and Dad’s house. I had just finished an aerobics class and was in my gym gear. Mum was on the phone and she sounded panicky.

Chris, my first born, was around 20 months and had stayed the night with his Gamma and Papa and I was coming to pick him up.

As I listened to Mum, I began to feel tightness in my stomach and chest area. I started running up the stairs. I quickly realised Mum was on the phone to the hospital. I got to the landing and ran to Mum who was sitting on her desk chair asking the hospital what she should do. “My daughter is here we will bring him down now.” Mum hung up the phone and told me Chris had eaten some camphor…or at least they suspected he had.
Dad was with Chris, who looked fine, though scared by our panic.

Chris ran to me and I picked him up and started running down the stairs. Dad shouted out, “We will keep looking for the other piece”.

In the few minutes I had been upstairs Dad had explained that they found Chris hiding behind their bed. He had about ¼ of a block of camphor in his hands. When questioned where the rest of it was he didn’t answer. When asked did he eat it, he didn’t answer. They checked his breath and it smelt like moth balls…Mum then rang Sandringham hospital

Our car ride to Sandringham Hospital was a blur. I parked the car right outside emergency and picked Chris up out of the car and ran to the reception desk in emergency. They quickly worked out who I was and immediately took us into a doctor. They asked some questions…none I can remember, and told me Chris had to drink charcoal as this will induce vomiting. The nurse warned us the charcoal was disgusting and may be hard to get him to take.

The feeling around me was one of calm efficiency. They were in emergency mode AND doing all their checks and balances. My heart was pumping as if I was in the middle of my aerobics class and yet Chris, quieter than usual, seemed fine.

After many attempts we did get him to drink at least a bit of the charcoal but he did not vomit.
Chris needed to be transferred to the Royal Children’s Hospital. An ambulance was waiting and Chris was wheeled into the back, a paramedic and I followed him in. We were rushed to the Children’s Hospital.

I had let Mum and Dad know what was happening and I knew Frank (my husband) would be waiting at the R.C.H. At this stage they had still not found the camphor.

24 hours later, after a night in the Royal Children’s hospital, Chris was given the all clear. Mum and Dad had found the missing piece of Camphor and they had thrown out all traces of camphor in their house.
Now almost 30 years later, the one thing I can still remember the paramedic saying was “the longer he doesn’t fit the better.”

Those words haunted me for years. I would wake up after dreaming about one or other of my sons (I eventually had 4), when they were little, fitting after eating moth balls or drinking some dangerous chemical. It was disturbing to say the least!

Frank and I had always done our best to make sure that we had nothing in our house that would be dangerous for Chris and then Michael, James and Nicholas. After “the camphor” incident we were even more vigilant with our house and those of our family members.

We shared this story with as many people as possible – forewarned is forearmed.
It’s no accident I sell Eco and child safe cleaning products.
Once you see your darling little boy, in a hospital bed, waiting for him to fit that’s the time to spread the word!