Poisoning in Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, Part 6: My Story – Hypervitaminosis

In my previous posts, I gave an overview of the common causes of poisoning in MSbP:  tranquilizers/anti-depressants, insulin, ipecac, and a grab bag of other ones. In this post, I will talk about how my mother poisoned my father, my brother, and myself: with vitamins.

Multigenerational Amway Family

My mother’s father sold Amway, which made it easy to access vitamin pills. My mother’s mother got him into it, because she did the vitamin pill thing, too.  In fact, her mother (my great grandmother) also poisoned her husband – only she didn’t use pills because it was the early 1900s. She used carrot juice to give him vitamin A toxicity (hypervitaminosis A) and get his skin to turn orange. It’s a family story.

When I was a little girl, I took 26 vitamin pills in the morning, 12 at noon, and 26 again at night. The regimen changed over time, depending on what mother and grandma read in Prevention Magazine.

Vitamin pills

Iron Poisoning: My Dad Gets Crohn’s Disease

My dad had hemorrhoids. Once after a bout of hemorrhoids, his hemoglobin tested a little low. My mother suggested he take twice the dose of iron recommended for an adult.

She said that he was tired, and he needed to take his iron.

Lethargy is a symptom of iron poisoning. So is vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea with blood.  My dad got all that, then eventually got Crohn’s disease, which is supposed to run in families, but no one in his family has it. Now he has a colostomy bag.

Next Up: More Vitamin A

My dad remembers my mother overdosing on vitamin A during her second pregnancy. That was supposed to be my sister. He remembers the doctor lecturing him and my mother to prevent her from taking too much vitamin A. She didn’t listen, and the baby got anencephaly and died.

My mom and grandma tried the carrot juice thing on me, but I hate carrots and I avoided it. Later, after my mother divorced my dad, she got him to take this liquid vitamin A she found at the health food store. He overdosed on it himself – my brother and I rejected it because it tasted like paint. Then my dad’s eyebrows fell out, he turned orange (which is hard for a brown guy), and he got ataxia (confusion) and got into a minor car accident. That’s when he realized he had hypervitaminosis A and stopped taking that liquid paint Vitamin A stuff my mother gave him.

Carrots and juice

Why Did my Brother Throw Up Every Day for a Year?

He asked me that once – he said, “Remember when I threw up every day for a year? Why was that?”

I remembered back then. My parents had divorced, and my brother was about 4 years old. Every other evening, my mother worked and we had a babysitter who heated up the food. When my mother was home, she cooked. She and I never threw up, but my brother threw up every night predictably, no matter what we ate.

We had a sheet over the couch because he was always sick and basically lived on the couch. He was always throwing up on it. Nobody knew why he was always sick. His name is Nicky but I’d call him Sicky. I remember one night a babysitter was there and I told her not to feed him hot dogs and macaroni and cheese or he’d throw up. She seemed incredulous, even angry at me like I was being mean. I refused to clean it up if he vomited, and sure enough – she fed him the meal and he got sick.

Living room couch

I now wonder if ipecac was involved? I really don’t know how my mother arranged this. It stopped after a year. My brother believes it was somehow my fault – like I stressed him out or something.

Poisoning is a Common Feature of MSbP

But like in my case, often poisonings go on for years unnoticed. Or, poisonings happen and we don’t know the etiology, then they mysteriously resolve. We just see the symptoms.

In my last post in this series, I will talk about what the next steps should be for MSbP poisoning research.

Want to read about a babysitter suspected of displaying MSbP behavior?

Read this post on PsychForums here.

Photographs by Ragesoss,Salix and Reiner Kraft.

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