Sunday, October 14, 2018

Speaking of adventures in motherhood...

I called Poison Control today. It's only our second time calling between five children and over eleven years, so I'd say that's not too bad.

Rachel had gone outside with the kids this afternoon because I needed to work on Alexander's birthday cake. He only ever wants me...unless there is outside time to be had and then he'll happily leave me. So outside they went.

She set him in the grass to help Benjamin and Zoë with some bubbles and when she picked him up again she found him chewing on...mushrooms. Our backyard is filled with them (so we tend to keep an eye on Alexander when he's out there but he's got a penchant for mischief making (and he's quick about it)).

Honestly, I wasn't terribly worried about it.

My little brother Patrick once prompted a visit to the ER after my mom found out that he'd been scavenging mushrooms in our yard in PoCo. He was fine.

So I wasn't terribly worried, but worried enough to try to identify the variety of mushrooms growing in our yard, to research what symptoms to look for, and to debate whether we should be calling Poison Control or our pediatrician.

Poison Control won out simply because I know from our previous interaction with them (and from stories from friends) that they are 100% non-judgemental and are 100% helpful (they actually will give you advise over the phone whereas all I've ever gotten from talking to nurses on the phone is, "Well, we can't tell you what to do over the phone...").

They told us to watch him for nausea and vomiting, which should happen within 24 hours if he ingested anything poisonous (which they doubted was the case because they've never had a single case of a child getting sick over lawn mushrooms (now, had we been up in the canyon we might have had more reason to worry, I was told)).

So far he's good. They're going to call me tomorrow to see how he's doing.

I'm sure he'll be fine.

I'm 98% sure that the mushrooms taking over our lawn right now are shaggy ink caps, which are actually cultivated in China as a food crop (that being said, children, we don't know that's what they are and identifying mushrooms is a tricky business and I'm no mycologist). According to Wikipedia (and, now that we think about it, our observations), "this mushroom is unusual because it will turn black and dissolve itself in a matter of hours after being picked or depositing spores."

I learned that we have a common mushroom in North America that is sometimes called "the vomiter." Fun nickname. As you may have guessed, it causes gastrointestinal distress.

I'm 100% sure that this is not the variety of mushroom growing in our yard.

Now, the shaggy ink cap (which I think does grow in our yard), is very closely related to the "edible (but sometimes poisonous)" common ink cap. I'm positive that if Alexander happened to have consumed this variety of mushroom (which I'm 98% he did not), they wouldn't have poisoned him because alcohol activates coprine poisoning somehow, so they're only poisonous if you eat them within a few hours (before or after) of drinking alcohol. The more alcohol you drink, the more severely sick you get.

Treatment, according to wikipedia, includes "reassuring the patient that the often frightening symptoms will pass, rehydration," and, you know, monitoring the patient for " cardiac arrhythmias."

So no big deal.

That's pretty much what Poison Control told me on the phone: there's probably no treatment other than just riding it out, so...

That being said, there are mushrooms out there that are incredibly dangerous—they often have ominous names (death cap, destroying angel, and so forth)—so we'll be sticking to buying our mushrooms from the store.


  1. I somehow missed reading this post earlier, so I had no clue this happened! But he looked great yesterday!

  2. The Poison Control people are SAINTS. I am so glad Alexander is ok! Sterling is only five but he knows a ton about mushrooms already, just from what they've taught him at daycare. They play in the forest a lot and Finland has many varieties of wild mushrooms, some of which are poisonous. So kids here learn about mushrooms weirdly early. In fact, he will love this story about Alexander - I'll tell it to him later!