Indian Toilet Paper

Yesterday, I told you about our field trip into the White Mountains with Vandy and Sandy at the helm. But you didn’t hear the whole story. In attendance with these delightful hosts were Bernie and I, my daughter Becky, her daughter Christina and her friend, Chelene. Vandy stopped at a scenic view location and we were able to look out over the beautiful valley and more mountains in the distance. Chelene noted a plant at her feet and stooped to pick some of its leaves. I am impressed by a twelve-year-old girl caring about plants. She told us that the plant is known as “Indian toilet paper”. Sandy informed us that it is also known as “skunk cabbage”.

“Do you want to feel it?” Chelene asked. Such a sweet little teacher she was.

“Sure,” I said. Bernie took a piece, too. The leaf was a sage green, plump and fuzzy soft. “This is perfect, softer than Charmin,” I said. “I always wondered what Indians did years ago for toilet paper.” Mind you, I really have wondered this. That gives you an indication of the kind of mind I have. Chelene said there was a smell that was interesting, too. I put the leaf to my nose and could not smell anything, so I scratched it a pit and took another sniff. There was a distinct smell, but rather faint. “Wow,” I said. “My nasal passage is getting a little sore.”

We piled into the car to go on. I mentioned the nose thing again. Sandy said, “You are having an alergy reaction. Quick, Vandy, find the benadril. It is in the compartment between the front seats.”

I noted that my throat was beginning to get tight. Vandy and Bernie (in the front passanger seat) were fumbling around the stuff in the compartment looking for the drug. “Here is some Tylonol,” Bernie said.

“I know we have Benedril. We never travel without it,” Sandy said. Sure enough, they found it. “This isn’t the fast acting stuff,”She said, handing me two tablets. “But it will have to do.” I took two tablets. Becky noticed a rash forming on my neck. I noticed tightness in my upper arms and I started to sneeze. Sandy said that my body is producing histamine to deal with the poison. Chelene asked why noone else was reacting. “You live here,” she said.

My heart started pounding. I was getting a little scared and consciously tried to relax. Sandy said to Vandy, “Turn around, we need to get her to the hospital.” Vandy did and we headed back down the mountain. I had been at the little hospital in Springerville the last time we’d been in Arizona whenI had a blood pressure episode. I learned then about altitudes and hydration. This visit I was diligent with water and Gatorade and I brought my blood pressure pills along, which I no longer have to take, but brought them if I need them. I could have used one now but they were in my suitcase at Becky’s.

Driving down the mountain, I learned that Sandy and Vandy used to do ambulance work in the mountains. They knew exactly what I was going through and what needed to be done. As we neared the hospital, I was feeling  better, though by now my nose was stuffing up as though I had a cold. “Do you still want to go to the hospital?” Sandy asked. I wasn’t sure. “I don’t know. I am a little nervous about this,” I said. The commander in her took over. “She’s going to the hospital. There’s no way she’d enjoy this trip if she doesn’t get checked over.”

So I spent an hour in the emergency room, watched by nurses and a very kind doctor who knew Sandy and Vandy from their days in ambulance work. I was hooked up to the machine that watches vitals and left alone to rest. My blook pressure was sky high when they first checked me in. As I lay there, I listening as  more people were brought in. One was a guy that came in with a broken nose. He admitted to taking marijana and alcohol. I thought he was smart for being honest. I prayed that perhaps the broken nose would move him to do something about his problem.  Another guy came in because of a choking incident. He had just had the last series of cancer treatments after surgery for throat cancer. He still had his voice. I thought about my mother and wished I could tell him about her. There was a little girl. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her by listening but I could tell there were a couple of worried parents.

Finally I was released. My blood pressure was coming down and the doctor suggest more Benadril for a day or two. Our troupe went out and up the mountains.  I was a bit dopey during the trip but was able to enjoy lunch, another beautiful view from the top of a mountain, and a stop on the way home for ice cream  I am grateful for these new friends who just happened to be exactly what I needed on this eventful day.

As we drove along, I heard Christina and Chelene laughing in the back seat. “What are you two giggling about,” Becky asked. “We were just wondering what would have happened if she had used the plant like toilet paper.” Now, there is a thought worth not thinking about.


4 thoughts on “Indian Toilet Paper”

  1. It might be worth getting an Epipen from your doctor. Do you have other allergies that produce these same symptoms? Otherwise, you definitely always want to carry benadryl with you.

    I know the plant you wrote about but didn’t know it was called Indian toilet paper.

    1. Thank you. My new friends referred to liquid benedril. Is that what Epipen is? I realize Benedril is a brand name, by the way. No, I really don’t have allergies, but I have had a couple of episodes in the last couple of years that have taken me by surprise. I guess as we age we can lose earlier allergies and take on some we never had.

      1. No, an Epipen is injectable epinephrine. Your throat was getting tight because the tissue was swelling. Benadryl can help mild tightness but very often the tightness gets worse and you need epinephrine to keep the airway open enough until you get to the ER. I would certainly let your doctor know what happened. Obviously you won’t be sniffing this plant again but since you seem to be developing allergies who knows what could cause symptoms the next time. But definitely keep benadryl with you always. You cam buy it over the counter in 25 mg or 50 mg size, I carry the 50 mg for my allergies, along with an Epipen.

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