2018-08-09 / Editorial Page

A Cheap Jug of Poison

Across The Savannah
By TOM POLAND tompol@earthlink.net

Bleach can be a cheap jug of poi­son. (Photo by Tom Poland). Bleach can be a cheap jug of poi­son. (Photo by Tom Poland). A deck open to sunlight and the weather surely will lose its piz­zazz. That’s when a good pressure washing works miracles. Prep it with some bleach and it’ll look even better. Bleach is cheap. I had heard people say they apply it at 100 percent strength. “Works better that way,” they say. I’d see what they meant.

Sunday, July 29, my brother- in-law, Joe, and I began working on my late parents’ deck. It was around 1:30 when sunlight hit my skin like needles. The day was hot and humid, and thunder rumbled off to the west. I began spray­ing the wood and Joe’s pressure- washer did its thing. Old oxidized wood got a new lease on life right before my eyes, a miraculous turnaround, like when brunettes bleach their hair and turn blonde overnight and immediately pos­sess new appeal.

We worked and as the spray­er emptied, I’d fill it with pure bleach. We worked until we gave out of Clorox, Clooo-rocks, as we say down here. After that, I spent two hours in my sister’s pool with my great niece, Harper, and a great niece she is. Playing in the pool with her exposed me to chlo­rine.

I went home Monday and when Tuesday rolled around something just didn’t feel right. By supper­time, I was weak, a bit out of it. I went to bed. At 1:15 in the morn­ing, a raging fever struck with its chills, chattering teeth, and shakes. All day Wednesday I just knew I had the flu but it seemed way too early for that annual curse. Thurs­day morning I went to my physi­cian. Despite having a fever of 102, I tested negative for the flu. Three PAs swarmed around me explaining that something bad was wrong but they had no idea until blood work and a chest X- ray could be done. Those would be done in the next hour.

I asked if Lyme’s Disease could be a possibility, and a doctor mumbled something odd about deer species and said Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever was a possibility given my explora­tions in the woods. His explana­tion seemed strange but, hey, he’s a doctor, so you know he has to be right. He wrote a prescription for Doxycycline, a treatment for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

After getting my prescription I went home. Miserable does not begin to describe how I felt. I remembered that early Sunday morning I had stopped at New Hope Church to photograph my final resting place for use in a story I plan to write. “I must have jinxed myself,” I thought, “cause soon that’s where I’ll be.”

Thursday the X-ray results came in: pneumonia. “How can that be,” I thought, “I had a pneu­monia vaccination two years ago. Well, it’s chemical pneumonia, which pays vaccinations no mind. While bacteria and viruses usually cause pneumonia, chemical pneu­monia is an unusual type of lung irritation. It’s a rare thing. All the bleach I sprayed had done me in. Now I was dealing with its flu-like symptoms, headache, abdominal pains and more.

I’m slowly recovering. Each day is a shade better than the day be­fore. I learned a few things. Bleach is not to be toyed with. Another thing. If you don’t replace the bat­tery in your digital thermometer, it’ll prove useless when you need it. Get yourself an old-fashioned but reliable mercury thermometer. And be careful with bleach, paint, and other chemicals.

Had I been in confined quarters Sunday, you might not be read­ing this column because there’s a chance I wouldn’t be here. Think of this tale of woe as a public ser­vice announcement, and be careful with those cheap jugs of poison.

Visit my website at www.tom­poland.net

Email me at tompol@earthlink.net

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