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Almost poisoned

By BARBARA GONZALEZ- VENTURA, The Philippine STAR Published Mar 28, 2021 5:00 am

We have an evening ritual. After dinner my husband looks at me and says, “See you later, alligator.” That means he will watch TV while I play solitaire on my computer — Two-Deck Free Cell, my favorite. It also means we will meet at 9 o’clock, when we will pray the rosary, watch a bit of TV together, then go to sleep.

Within this evening ritual is my own little ritual: I wash my face, brush my teeth, change into my nightgown after playing solitaire.

I must have been getting ready to brush my teeth when I saw a medium-sized cockroach skittering across our bathroom floor. I moved my toothbrush to my left hand, picked up the insecticide with my right and chased it, determined to spray it dead.

It was determined to escape but I was determined to catch. It tried to go up a closet door; I sprayed it relentlessly. Of course, it dropped dead and I felt good about it. I continued my ritual. Everything was fine.

But at around 2 a.m., I woke up with a stomachache. I hardly ever get stomachaches. This one was terrible. It felt like food poisoning.

The last time I remembered having it was when I was in my late twenties and I had pigged out on oysters. One must have been rotten. That was terrible. Up and down, as they used to describe it, and moaning in between until I got everything out of my system.

But this pain was horrifying. I was sitting on what my grandmother used to call el trono, and my mother used to call “the throne,” writhing in pain. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. It was so painful.

My husband peeped in to ask me what was wrong. “I have a terrible stomachache,” I said. “Why?” he asked. “I don’t know,” I said.

Then, suddenly, it occurred to me that when I sprayed the cockroach, I had oversprayed it, wanting it to die before my eyes. I had forgotten that I was holding my toothbrush in my left hand. The toothbrush must have picked up some of the spray. I brushed my teeth with it. I must have inadvertently swallowed some of the highly toxic spray. That’s what was causing this intense pain.

Suddenly all my body’s pores poured out buckets of sweat. I could feel cool water streaming down my entire body from my head down. I thought I would die.

The pain got worse. I remembered when I was very young visiting a grandaunt who was dying of stomach cancer. She was lying in bed, eyes closed, moaning. I could see then she was in agony. Now I was like her.

Suddenly all my body’s pores poured out buckets of sweat. I could feel cool water streaming down my entire body from my head down. I thought I would die.

My husband came in again and asked me if I wanted an ambulance, if I wanted to go to the hospital. “No,” I said. “Please don’t worry. Go to sleep. I will be all right,” I said, just to be left alone. He went back to bed.

Soon I did the “down” part. It was very painful during but afterwards the pain eased. I went back to bed still in pain but less than before. 

But I woke up again in extreme pain. This time I had to rush to the bathroom for the “up” part. Then I went to sleep again. Then I woke up to go to the bathroom again. When I went back to bed that time, at least I could bear the pain and fell asleep.

Monday wasn’t such a good day because I woke up feeling weak and was too afraid to eat. I did not have an appetite anyway. I tried to make rosaries but could not. I lived on water, tea and finally a very small serving of ice cream. I still went to the throne and there was still pain.

I finally read the label on the insecticide and saw petroleum as an ingredient. That’s what must have given me so much pain and made me sweat in buckets. I also saw a warning to doctors about not encouraging vomiting. “I’m sorry,” I murmured, “but I couldn’t help it.”

By Tuesday I was well. I could eat three meals a day without pain. Now the poison is totally out of my system.

My husband confessed that when I sent him back to bed he didn’t go to sleep. He prayed very fervently for me to get well. His prayers really worked. They countered the evil spells sent to me by the tiny cockroach I tormented to death before my eyes. I was profoundly grateful.

On Monday I opened the toothbrush case I had just bought where I stored my toothbrush. Strangely, there was like a clear mucus flowing from my toothbrush into the case. That was creepy. I closed it and threw it all away.

I write this to warn everyone who kills cockroaches with a passion. Please don’t be as stupid as I was.

Banner photo by Sora Shimazaki from Pexels