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the perils of forest dwelling

lepiohodes22Today’s and possibly tomorrow’s post will be delayed. My neighbour (who’s been my trusty sitting/meditation partner for four years) gave me a big fat mushroom on the weekend. I had no doubt of its credentials since my friend and her companion are respected island mycologists. Cook in an open frying pan with hot oil, she said, or bread it like a Wiener Schnitzel and then fry. Yum-yum … just like in the Old Country.

Well, I did as instructed, enjoyed the meal, and soon went to sleep. Woke up in the middle of the night, covered in, well, shit. Spent the next three hours sitting on the toilet while the washing machine dealt with sheets and pillow cases. Not a pretty sight.

A scary experience and also a humbling one. So that’s what it’s like to be incontinent; lucky for me that I was alone, no embarrassment. So that’s what happens to people at hospice (and elsewhere) who’re unable to take care of their own toileting. Note to self: Be grateful of your mobility and savour the humility.

Informed of my nocturnal escapade, my mushroom-gathering friend wrote the following:  

“I am happy to hear you are feeling better! The name of the mushroom is Lepiota rachodes or ‘shaggy parasol.’ Even though it is edible they do warn in the book that some people have a severe allergic reaction to it. I should have warned you. Another friend had to be taken to medical center, even though she had eaten them before. I ate the very same mushroom (she had half and I had half) and had no reaction. I felt terrible and spent the night with her. She is recovering today; her reaction was vomiting. I appreciate your trust in me: rest assured that I will never again distribute so-called edible mushrooms without finding all information about them. My deepest apology and I hope I can make it up to you somehow. Humbly yours.”

image: Lepiota rachodes. In A.M. Hussey (1847-1855), Illustrations of British mycology.


4 responses »

  1. humbling indeed. you are lucky p! perhaps this applies to many things in life – take a small taste, savour, swallow, pause. i am grateful for your story. i wonder about i can learn about asking others for help when i might need it…

  2. yes, nancy. when i go back to work (at hospice) tonight, i expect to see/hear/smell things differently, such as: walking past a room and gagging from the smell of excrements; hearing a nurse saying “i have to do Mr. X’s bowel care” … ; reading in the chart that Mrs. Y is a “2-assist to the commmode” and that “Mr. Z is resisting having to wear diapers.”

  3. from an anonmous reader:

    peter – glad you’re still alive. it’s one way of being closer in touch with the people you work with, as parents or caregivers, we deal with such things regularly … not nice maybe, but facts of life.

  4. Dearest Peter….”Shit happens….” 🙂


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