The Destroying Angel

If I believed in God, then I would also have to believe that God created a poisonous mushroom, which kills in a particular devious manner. It doesn’t kill you right away, you don’t even get sick right away. The first symptoms only shows after 4-24 hours. Vomiting, diarrhoea, intense abdominal pains… After that has passed you feel a little better. You think; I shouldn’t have eaten that mushroom, thank God it’s over. But it’s not over. The poison has entered your system and started to break down the cells in you kidneys and liver. No stopping it. After a day or two you start feeling worse again. If you don’t get a kidney transplant within a week, you’re dead.

How do I know this? Yes, of course I ate a little bit and had to google it. Why? Call it ignorance, call it plain stupidity.

The mushroom I’m talking about is called “Vit flugsvamp” in Swedish which translates to something like “White fly-mushroom”. Why “flugsvamp”? What has flies got to do with it? Is it as simple as “flies can sit on it”? (FYI there is also “Red fly-mushroom”)

Maybe it is that simple. Like the English toadstool, which I thought was a specific mushroom, but turned out to be the term for poisonous mushrooms. If you can eat it it’s a mushroom, if you can’t (or rather: shouldn’t) then it’s a toad-stool. The more you learn… “This nickname probably came from the fact that they looked just like a perfect spot for a toad to sit!”

Now I don’t belive in simple answers so I started a little research. And here I got a little sidetracked… I started with translating the word “fly” from English to Swedish to see the definitions of the word, and maybe get a clue. Zipper; no don’t think so. Flee; maybe. Rush, flutter; possibly.

Just for fun I did the reverse, translated “Fluga” to English. Fly, yes of course. BUT… come on Google! Craze, rage, but what about the simple housefly?

Then I did what I should have done from the start and googled “why is it called flugsvamp?”. The answer?

“The “red flymushroom” is named Amanita muscaria in latin, and musca means fly. In the past it has been used as an insecticide against both flies and bedbugs.”

So it really had to do with flies…

On a more serious note.

When I realised it was a poisonous mushroom (toadstool!) I had eaten there was a moment of internal panic, that sinking feeling when all your nerves converge in one spot; that familiar pit in your stomach. That was soon replaced with “it’s probably nothing”. Then googling some more, verifying that it indeed was toxic, finding out the devious workings of the toxin, brought back the anxiety. So for two hours I was on this emotional roller coaster; Am I dying? Nah, can’t be, until I finally decided to get myself to the hospital.

During the drive to there my wife was trying to get through to toxicology-hot line and finally managed when we where five minutes away from the hospital. In a off-handed voice she told the person “My husband has eaten a bit of a poisonous mushroom. Yeah, I don’t understand it either. How much? Like a finger nail. No danger? Well, that’s good to hear. Thank you”.

Relief! Snatched from the jaws of death.

It wasn’t the dying part that scared me.The world will go on without me. I’ve lived through depression, contemplating suicide on numerous occasions. But in the words of Robbie Williams “I’m not scared of dying, I just don’t want to”. What scared me was what were they going to do with me at the hospital? And laying for a week slowly dying. When I die I want it to be quick, and preferably painless.

Did my life flash before my eyes? No. Did I regret anything? Yes, kind of funny, the only thing I could think of was; too bad, now I won’t be able to write all those stories.

The heading? “Amanita virosa, commonly known in Europe as The Destroying Angel”. Now THAT is a cool name for a toadstool!

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