Poison Perils with Frank & Louise: A Meal to Remember

Meet Frank and Louise Wilmot

Frank, 75, is a retired engineer who enjoys gardening, fishing, and shouting at the television. Louise, 68, is a retired middle school teacher who likes to travel, read, and ignore Frank’s shouting at the television. They share their New England home with a happy little wheaten terrier named Bailey.

“That was a fine piece of meat, Louise,” Frank announced, settling into his recliner after dinner.

“You don’t want to know what it cost!” replied Louise. “But you only turn 75 once, so consider that your birthday gift, pal.”

“I’ll take it. Last year you got me socks. The sautéed mushrooms and onions were a nice touch.”

“I used a little Marsala on the mushrooms Claire gave me. Put on Channel 9, I want to catch the news,” Louise said, joining him in the den.

An hour later, the sound of Frank’s recliner snapping closed roused Louise from her evening nap. He headed toward the hall bathroom with what seemed like urgency.  A man on a mission, she thought to herself, reaching for her book and reading glasses. She was halfway through the chapter when she realized Frank had not yet returned to his chair.

“Are you ok in there?” she asked through the bathroom door.

“Not at all. Must have been the Marsala” he groaned, giving her a too-detailed description of his misery.

But Louise had a different suspect in mind. She stepped into the kitchen and retrieved the bag of mushrooms she’d gotten from their neighbor. “Honey mushrooms,” Claire had called them, picked that morning while out with her foraging club. Not a fan of fungi, Louise hadn’t eaten any. Claire was a seasoned forager, but could she have made a mistake identifying these mushrooms? She thought to call Claire, but then spotted the Northern New England Poison Center magnet on the refrigerator.

A few minutes later, she tapped on the bathroom door.

“Leave me alone to die,” Frank moaned. Louise rolled her eyes.

“You’re not going to die, honey. I was afraid the mushrooms might be the problem, so I called the poison center, and—”

“Claire never liked me! She’s trying to kill me, isn’t she?”

“No, Frank, I talked to the poison specialist and sent her pictures of the mushrooms. She told me they’re not poisonous, but she also said that even non-poisonous mushrooms can cause stomach problems if you aren’t used to a particular type. Your symptoms are completely normal.”

“How comforting,” Frank replied sarcastically. “Next year, hold the mushrooms and get me socks…”

There are toxic wild mushrooms in our area. If someone has ingested a mushroom and you are concerned that it could be poisonous, call the Northern New England Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 for free, confidential expertise, 24/7.

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