The Salutary Tale of the Rhododendron
Thought you all might enjoy this, makes a change from the bloody EU!
This is a tale of how you can die by Rhododendron and it is true. Gentle reader you cannot imagine a more curious ending to one’s 14th wedding anniversary.
The precursor to the events must be explained. I hate bright day glo, shocking, dark glasses pink, I really detest the colour. This abomination is harboured particularly by the rhododendron, the larger the better to achieve its true ghastly hue. My objection to this colour has become greater in later years due to the genderisation of toys and clothing. Have you actually tried to buy anything for a little girl of recent years? It’s all pink!
Whatcom County is enamoured of pink, every bloody plant is either pink or mauve here. I have often presumed there is some genetic inbred colour blindness in the population. (Don’t ask!) Whilst I cannot ban pink elsewhere I most certainly can and do in my own garden. As you know, we moved last year, yes, you’ve guessed it! Beset by pink, mauve and thuggy expanding plants all of the (very) common and garden variety. Fatwahs were issued, “Get them out of here” They were duly removed, given away, sold, donated to garden sales, destroyed, banished, no pink left, great sigh of relief!
Except for one rhododendron, thankfully in the back garden, it was not flowering at the time of moving and refused to announce its colour until last week. Yes, it was the daddy of them all! The brightest, nastiest, dark glasses, day-glo pink with many huge flowers, a prize winning malefactor of the first order. Hindsight is a wonderful thing one should have demanded death by chainsaw immediately and I didn’t! (More fool me)
The happenings of the day went thus. Wedding anniversaries are not made too much of in this household, we discussed in a desultory manner going out to dinner but restaurants are always overcrowded and bad food on Saturday night, so we thought perhaps an expedition next week instead. I went off to a spinning meeting, had a very pleasant time and returned at two. Pottered in the garden, averting my eyes on occasion as necessary from the malefactor and then came in to fix dinner and make a few calls.
Now, this damnable plant, when flowering, throws off the outer covering of the flowers as scales as it breaks bud. These are incredibly sticky and soil a large area of access to the back deck, the French doors being the main access into the kitchen by three dogs! None of whom wipe their feet! They come in with large clumps of these sticky malevolent carapaces affixed to paws that either get wiped off on rugs and carpets or peeled off by human servitors!
At 6.30 I was in the middle of a fascinating and vitriolic tale on the phone from Wales. Listening intently I absentmindedly started collecting carapaces from the floor with my other hand. I worked my way round the kitchen and then went into the TV room. It is dark in there to shade the room from the evening sun. I had a handful of the offenders and then at the last swipe of a small clump from the floor, POW, a zinger of a pain in the fleshy bit between thumb and forefinger.
A wasp, had been trapped on the carapaces like a fly paper, it was completely stuck and mad as hell! Something to sting, zap, pow, take that!
I thought nothing of it, carrying on with the phone call I ambled off to find the antihistamine tablets and cream. Within five minutes I knew I was in real trouble. Serious breathing problems. Fortunately recognized it for what they were, anaphylactic shock. Been there 20 years ago with a similar reaction to penicillin. Dammit, I had to truncate the phone call juicy as it was. No time to listen to little deaths when the big one is at the door!
Spousal unit called emergency and God bless American medicine that ambulance was at the door in well under ten minutes. Here they are all very well trained paramedics because we are a rural county and only one hospital. The ambulances are kitted out like a miniature A&E. They shot me full of ephedrine; loaded me up and off we went. On the way there they lost my pulse, oops, closing down big time! Shot me up with all sorts, by which time I had drips, monitors and God knows what connected. I was too out of it to enjoy the bells and whistles as we rode every red into town! No waiting in the car park round here to die on a trolley, whistled into there at top speed, no waiting for a cubicle, straight in, doctor, nurses all seriously doing their bit. More like a TV drama than anything else.
Well, what can I say? They saved my life without a doubt, I have a horrible suspicion that had I been in upper Carmarthenshire I would not have been so lucky; the timing alone would have precluded a good outcome. I did not have an epipen in the house I do not need them, correction, I did not need them! Now I do. The bizarre thing is that I have never been allergic to wasps just like everyone else a bit of swelling and painful, mosquitos yes, I have a bad reaction, but not anaphylactic shock. And now this? Within 5 hours or so I had stabilized and was given the option of staying in overnight for observation or coming home. At their prices I came home, joking apart I did not feel it would repeat itself. Interestingly after the drugs started wearing off, the hand just swelled up like a normal but bad reaction as everyone would have to a wasp bite.
The morals of this tale?
- Call in the exterminators and rid this garden of wasps big time.
- Call in the chain saws and rid this garden of that psychotic killer rhododendron. (One wonders if it is being that colour that makes them psychotic? I’d want to be a serial killer if I was day-glo pink too.)
- Never live too far from a hospital
- Be aware that you can become totally allergic to anything at any time through your life.
- If you do not know the signs of anaphylactic shock, look them up on the internet. It may just save your life. I’d been there before with penicillin, I knew them. Don’t bugger about lying down or resting, there is plenty of time on a slab for that later. Call a bloody ambulance. They ought to be carrying ephedrine. It is a pretty standard drug.
- Spousal unit who was a brick throughout this carry on laconically observed that there were better ways of observing a wedding anniversary. He may be right, but there are few more exciting than dancing with death quite so near to the edge! But somehow it is an experience I can do without!
- And last but not least eradicate all shocking pink plants, they are proven killers.