It's every parent's biggest nightmare: Losing a child too soon. For Emily Bauer's family, it was almost reality after she tried a form of synthetic weed packaged as "potpourri" from a gas station, which sent her into the ICU where she went into a coma. Illegal in 41 states, the herbal mixture sprayed with chemicals is meant to create a high just like pot. Considering her parents forbade her from using the substance at home, the then-16-year-old thought it was a good substitute.
The side effects started as a persistent headache. Within four days of arriving at the hospital, Emily was a vegetable. Doctors told her family that if she regained consciousness, she wouldn't have use of her limbs. They took her off life support and thought it was over. Today, Emily is conscious. She's been transferred to a rehab hospital, eating solid food, and recognizes her family's voices.
The question: Could this have been prevented if the family wasn't so uptight about marijuana use? Answer: HELL no.
It's human nature to do whatever it is you know you're not supposed to. Please, when you're a teenager, you're in the "I want to do everything you tell me not to" phase every single hour of every day.
As a parent, though, you need to enforce rules in your home whether or not they're "fun" to abide by. Emily's parents did the right thing by discouraging their daughter from using marijuana. It's an ILLEGAL drug, for crying out loud. No parent in their right mind would tell their teen it's OK for them to smoke it, especially in the house. It wasn't their forbidding her to use the drug that had her looking for alternatives. I firmly believe that something like this could have happened even if they said pot was OK.
I can't even imagine how it's got to feel to be Emily's parents right now. How closely they're watching her, praying for a full recovery one day at a time. The harsh reality: Hovering over their daughter for the rest of her life will not fix what has happened. Although you may want to, you cannot protect your children from absolutely everything. All they can do is continue to love and be there for her and each other through this difficult time.
Have you ever heard of "potpourri"? Have you spoken with your teenager about smoking?
Image via Torben Bjorn Hanson/Flickr