Home > General > The Salutary Tale of the Rhododendron

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?

  1. Call in the exterminators and rid this garden of wasps big time.
  2. 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.)
  3. Never live too far from a hospital
  4. Be aware that you can become totally allergic to anything at any time through your life.
  5. 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.
  6. 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!
  7. And last but not least eradicate all shocking pink plants, they are proven killers.
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Categories: General
  1. christinaosborne
    May 15, 2016 at 8:36 pm

    By the way we will probably get a bill for $500 or so for the ambulance, cheap at the price considering how it is kitted out and how well trained the paramedics are!
    If people had to make a contribution every time they called an ambulance in the UK there wouldn’t be half so many timewasters and the serious cases would have a far better chance. The sooner the NH is declared dead and buried the better. In rural UK you can have a trip in an ambulance of at least an hour before you get to hospital, in what is equivalent to a lorry? Not a chance in hell!
    All rural places should have fully trained paramedics on their ambulances.
    No money for that though is there? Rural places are white and the money has already gone in foreign aid you know where! Another wog palace is quite the premium necessity!

  2. sheona
    May 15, 2016 at 11:45 pm

    Glad to hear you’re OK, Christina. Next anniversary just go out for dinner instead of gardening and as a special present buy wellies for the dogs.

  3. May 16, 2016 at 7:17 am

    CO, I feel for you. A couple of weeks ago, I unwisely donned a glove which had wintered in the shed. I felt a sharp stab in my finger and soon has a fist to rival Mike Tyson – and it hurt like crazy. A snoozing wasp is not to be disturbed. Luckily no allergy. All gone after 4 days. And we have nice white ‘trees of Rhodes’ blossoms. 😎

  4. May 16, 2016 at 8:39 am

    “Dark Glasses Pink.” Yeah that could be the name of a pscho serial killer. And I just bought a Pinkie plant for the garden; its called Syringa. (There’s a latin bit afterwards.) Oooh my gawd. If I match it with a complementary pale blue will I be OK ha ha.
    But what a tale you tell. Outrageously colourful, shocking and funny. No one tells it like you do Christina!

  5. Boadicea
    May 16, 2016 at 11:56 am

    I have a similar aversion to yellow plants – not that any have tried to kill me – yet. They are just not welcome in my garden or house!

    I put this aversion down to the fact that my mother loves yellow flowers and only ever bought blooms of that hue. She once won a “Best Garden Award” in Lambeth with her never-dying flower-boxes stuffed full of plastic daffodils. She did own up… and the Award was granted elsewhere to a more worthy and proper gardener. Red Ken (Livingstone) was Big Chief of Lambeth at the time – so that might say something about the quality of the people giving out the awards…

    Sad to admit, but I like rhododendron – they are, however, considered to be a “noxious weed” here, a sentiment I’m sure you will agree with, and are firmly rooted out and destroyed wherever they are found.

    I don’t know about rural Wales, but I can certainly vouch for the splendid ambulance service in Hove, having had to use it quite a few times for my mother on various visits. They have been well fitted out with both equipment and amazingly cheerful paramedics… I’ve spent many an hour in the Royal Brighton’s A&E – and on the phone to the same mob, when my mother has been admitted when I’m not there. They should certainly get a large lump of the moneys sent to build places for foreign corrupt dictators.

    Queensland is the only State here to have a ‘free’ ambulance service – in other States one has to pay, although one can get insurance to part-way cover the cost. Personally, I think that all ambulance calls should be free – there are many people who cannot afford $500 dollars or more or even less and will hesitate to call the service for fear of the cost. On the other hand, I agree with you that those whose ingrowing toenails have started to hurt at 3.00 am and call an ambulance should be charged full whack for wasting the time of an essential service. I’d also like to charge those drug-users who run into problems with their illegal drugs as well… But I own that my sympathy for illegal drug users is zilch – especially when they abuse those trying to help them.

    I’m glad you survived this experience – but I take your point. It is a little frightening to realise that one can become suddenly allergic – and dangerously so.

    Welcome back Christina… long may you amuse us with your splendidly written posts 🙂 .

  6. Four-eyed English Genius
    May 16, 2016 at 12:26 pm

    Glad you are now OK, CO. I think I might be developing a slight pollen allergy in later life but nothing serious. Just a bit of sneezing and wheezing when the pollen count is high.

    However, my Dad had a serious wasp sting allergy and we had to cart him off to the the local A&E if he was stung. This was before the days of epipens. It was nasty at the time but he always recovered. My Mum was very concerned that my brother and I would be similarly afflicted, but we soon tested that out by disturbing a wasps’ nest in the garden when we were young. Lots of stings but no reaction. It bloody hurt, though.

  7. christinaosborne
    May 16, 2016 at 1:37 pm

    Thanks for the votes of sympathy it hurts like hell and hideously swollen.

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