By Maria Tsataros
First Coast News
JACKSONVILLE, FL -- Justin Jennings is a typical three-year old boy. He loves playing outside and riding his bike.
But the last year of his life has been anything but typical. Last December, Justin caught a cold. His mother, Nicole, gave him cold medicine and cough syrup.
"His eyes started getting all shaky, he couldn't stand up, couldn't talk, he started grinding his teeth, he couldn't even walk," explains Justin's mom, Nicole Jennings.
Nicole thought her son was having a seizure. She rushed him to the hospital. Doctors didn't understand what was wrong. They ran numerous tests and finally found Phencyclidine, or PCP, in Justin's blood.
"He never had PCP, he was never around PCP," says Nicole.
Nicole and Maurice, Justin's dad, knew their son was sick. But the tests just didn't make sense.
"The baby tested positive for PCP! And we didn't understand it," said Nicole.
The Department of Children and Families was not taking any chances, they took Justin to a foster home.
The boy's father, Maurice, remembers one of the hardest moments, "Knowing that we could not take him home with us was really bad. The actual tear jerker was when he said, 'Can I come home? Why can't i come home?'"
Justin's parents knew the test results had to be wrong. But in order to prove their worthiness as parents, they were forced to subject themselves to random drug tests, counseling and parenting classes. It was all to get their family back under one roof. Then the roof came crashing down... literally.
"We lost the master bedroom, we lost the bathroom, the dining room, some of the kitchen we lost," Nicole said as she showed us the pictures.
Hurricane Frances destroyed nearly everything the couple owned. With little money and no place to call home, they were forced to move in with Nicole's mother in Long Island, New York. Under strict supervision, they were allowed to take their son, but there were no guarantees they could keep him.
Nicole started researching PCP on the internet. That's when she learned most cough and cold medications contain a drug called Dextramethorphine, or DXM. Remember we mentioned Nicole gave Justin a cough syrup and cold medicine, both containing DXM.
"He overdosed on DXM. It was in the flu medicine, he had his normal dosage and it was in the cough medicine also," explains Maurice. "Which he had a normal dose of that too."
"It's in tons of cough and cold products, and it's one of those medications that a lot of people don't pay attention to," says Dr. Dawn Sollee with the Poison Information Center. She says DXM is a cough suppressant and a drug people accidentally overdose on. Sollee also says DXM is not PCP, but they can be easily confused in a drug test.
"DXM is structurally related or structurally similar in it's composition to Phencyclidine, or PCP," explains the doctor.
Nicole says she read the directions before giving Justin his medication, "We went by the recommended doses, but on the box it should say do not mix with any other brands containing DXM."
"There are people that do that accidentally and on a daily basis. That's part of what happens here and those are the calls we get here at the Poison Information Center," says Dr. Sollee.
The DCF allowed Justin's mom and dad to bring their son to New York under one provision. They stay in close contact with the DCF. During an interview with First Coast News, Justin's mom and dad got the phone call they had been waiting for.
The case was dropped and Justin is home for good, just in time for the holidays.
"It's been 11 months. This is the 11th month, next month will be 12. Because that's when it happened, Christmas, the day after Christmas. And now it's finally over," says Nicole.
Doctors want to reiterate DXM is an effective cough suppressant and parents should not hesitate to use it. But, remember to read the instructions and never use multiple medications that contain DXM. Last year, in the state of Florida, 77 children were hospitalized because of overdoses.
Story Here: http://www.firstcoastnews.com/news/local/n...x?storyid=28235