Constance Sylvester

Lead Poisoning

Southeast · Shaker Square · Poetry

Hello my name is Eric Sly
And I’ve come to give you a reason why
You need to watch where you live and take care
To avoid a lead-poisoning scare.
My story starts when I was three
I got really skinny and kept skinning my knee
Mom noticed black and blue marks on my skin
And wondered how this could have been?
I ran around day and night
Without a purpose and crying with all my might
I didn’t understand why everyone was sad
I was out of control and my parents were mad.
So off to the doctor my family went
To find out what the bruises meant
“He has the flu,” the doctor said
Take him home and put him to bed.
“Oh no!” my Mom said, “This cannot be true”
You need to give him a lead test to find a clue
Off we go to get a blood test
Wait two weeks and we’ll know the rest.
The results came back within a day
Lead-levels so high—that’s why I couldn’t play
To the hospital we must go
To start treatments—we’re scared, we just don’t know.
I’ve never been in a hospital room
I met my roommate; it took away the gloom
I tell my parents they must not go
Chelation treatments start tomorrow.
They X-rayed my tummy and oh what a sight!
I had eaten lead chips and enjoyed each and every bite
They had tasted like candy and were quite yummy
Oh, but alas they made me feel crummy.
The IV drips went on for five days straight
The shots were every four hours they cannot be late
It hurts—I’m sad to see Mommy cry
By being brave I’ll get well and the tears will dry.
One trip to the hospital was not enough
I needed three times—it was rough
The food that I would try to eat
Tasted like metal, it was not a treat.
After I got home to stay
My life was changed day to day
Medicine to take and health to restore
I grew stronger and healthier and began to eat more.
I didn’t know the harm from those chips
It affects the brain, your nerves, and can land in your hips
It’s something that never goes away
You need to keep watch so it won’t cause your schooling to delay.
I learned that lead is everywhere
In the dirt, in paint, water, and even in the air
Wash your hands, keep clean take a test
Avoid sources of lead and alert others
Then everyone can be their best.

Constance Sylvester

In 1984, Constance Sylvester and her husband moved into a lovely duplex in the Shaker Square area. Four years later, their then three-year-old son became ill and was diagnosed with lead poisoning. They did not know what to expect or prepare for. This has led her to record these events in hope that any family facing this dilemma will have information to better face the situation.


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