The problems with Mandrake and the two minute window

After consuming a meal with the leaves of a plant, thought to be a wild green, but actually turning out to be Mandragora– which grows commonly around Sicily; there would rightly be cause for concern. For those not familiar, it’s a highly poisonous plant and one that should be avoided. I have read from some sources that the leaves are harmless, but I can assure you this is not the case.

Of course, anyone who knows about my appetite for food knows I was probably just digging myself a deeper hole- blissfully unaware of what was to come…

Shortly after eating, fresh water began to taste mouldy; thinking became a little difficult, as did standing and walking. High levels of dizziness and nausea set in, vision became impaired as my pupil grew to larger than my iris and apparently my speech was a little slurred (not that the Sicilians could understand my clear English at the best of times!)

Fortunately I was also with some other English speaking people, although they were also suffering similar symptoms on a lighter scale. We knew we needed help.

After being driven to the doctors (by our Sicilian neighbours), I remember we were told to travel to the local hospital. By now my head was really starting to spin, I was confused, was having uncontrollable full body muscle contractions, palpitations and generally felt like shit.

I would imagine this is what the feeling is like if you chose to mix cocaine with LSD, but having never tried either, I can only assume. Goodness knows why you would want to try either, the experience I had is not one I would wish on anybody!

After arriving at the hospital, I don’t really remember much, I later found out that they had asked if I had been taking drugs. This wasn’t the reason I got into horticulture; medicinal horticulture is definitely an interesting topic, but I didn’t expect to become a subject of it.

After a few tests, I slipped into a coma. It was then I later find out they gave me two minutes to live…

If you were asked the question ‘What could you achieve in two minutes?’ I bet the range of tasks, skills and actions would be varied and may even bring out your personality. But I wonder how many people would say ‘Save a life’

I was once told, ‘Without the appropriate action, you won’t achieve the desired outcome.’ I feel this rings true here. It was at this point that the appropriate action taken by doctors did achieve the outcome. Whether or not they believed that the end result would be achieved, they were not afraid to try and never gave up on me.

The first thing I remember is waking up in a room I’d never seen, not wearing the clothes I’d come in with, my watch had disappeared from my wrist and found myself attached to two heart monitoring machines, a drip and a urinary catheter. My first though- I wasn’t going anywhere today!

Shortly after waking I was told I’d suffered severe plant toxicology which had resulted in blood poisoning. I was handed a two-litre bottle of water with a laxative sachet mixed in and told to consume it within the hour. That was a lot more difficult to do than it sounds, but definitely helped move things along!

Over the course of next 4 days, I was fully detoxed, the machines were removed (although were re attached twice a day for tests), blood and urine tests were done, the catheter was removed and by the end I only had the drip for company.

People who know me will know I’m a bit of a fidget and I like to be active, so it was hard when every time I tried to get up and walk around, I was ushered to sit or lie down- it’s just not my style!

Once the doctors were satisfied with my progress I was discharged, although I still wished to get a medical when back in the UK, mostly for piece of mind, but also I would fully understand what was being said. The language barrier had been a tough one at times and it made me realise, although progress has been slow- my Italian is actually coming on a bit! (although very basic)

I’d like to end on a positive note, I am on the mend and after some tests in the UK, the doctors have given me the all clear. Brain, heart, lungs, stomach, kidneys and liver are all working well and the neurotransmitters and receptors in my body have not been damaged.

The support I have received has been tremendous, all your comments and kind words have been greatly appreciated, and the view from my window (when I was able to get up and look) wasn’t bad- would you agree?



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