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Doctor Curmudgeon® Beware Your Friendly Park

By Diane Batshaw Eisman, M.D. FAAP Doctor Eisman is in Family Practice in Aventura, Florida with her partner, Dr. Eugene Eisman, an internist/cardiologist

My name is Galahad and I am Doctor Curmudgeon’s cousin.

She has graciously relinquished her column for this week in order for me to present a topic which is close to my heart.

As readers of her column are aware, I am from the Siberian Husky canine branch of the family.

I write this column from my personal experience.

Some of what I relate comes from conversations from my family who were present at the time.

I was in the throes of my puppyhood and can only recall fragments of my disastrous contact with a toad.

At that time, my parents were in the diplomatic corps and we lived overseas. As often as possible, the entire Curmudgeon clan enjoyed get-togethers during holidays and celebrations.

I have been told that this was a special gathering as I was the first Husky baby in the family.

One evening, I went out to romp in the backyard which was heavily enclosed and assumed to be safe.

All that I remember of the occurrence was that I did not feel well and crawled back into the house, and seemed to have trouble breathing.

The next thing that I can recall was being in a hospital, with my normally unflappable parents looking distraught. As I opened my eyes and made puppy sounds, they began to smile.

As I grew older, my parents told me that I had been exposed to toxins secreted by a Bufo toad.

I did some research about this and learned that this toad is found in several places and is often in Florida.

Its official name is Rhinella marina and is referred to as a cane toad. Another species of this poisonous toad is the Sonoran Desert toad which resides in California, New Mexico, Arizona and Texas.

When exposed to the secretions of this large toad, one can experience vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, difficulty breathing, cardiac arrhythmias and death.

Fortunately for me, I was immediately brought to my physician, and I was told that I had spent two days in an ICU. I found out that my cardiologist cousin (Hero Doctor), along with our veterinary internist took turns at my bedside the whole time.

If this horrific poisoning is treated immediately, there are no long term effects.

I am aware of the foolishness of people. Here, in Florida there have been instances of people actually having glue injected into their buttocks to look shapelier. Really!!!

To my consternation, I read a recent article in the Miami Herald describing more serious human folly. The article actually had to warn people to avoid licking toads.

It is absolutely beyond my understanding that anybody would purposely have the urge to lick a toad!

It appears that this licking is done in search of a hallucinogen. These toads do secrete bufotenin which is known to be a natural psychedelic.

And to quote from the Miami Herald article by Adela Suliman (originally posted in the Washington Post):

“The U.S. government has an unusual request: please don’t lick psychedelic toads. The National Park Service issued a warning this week to visitors to refrain from licking the large Sonoran Desert toads as some people try to reach a state of hallucinogenic enlightenment from the ‘potent toxin’ that the amphibians naturally secrete.”

And I heartily concur with the National Park Service.

Do not be tempted by social media.

Toad licking is dangerous.

Toad licking can cause death.

Don’t lick a toad.

Dr. Curmudgeon suggests “Bitter Medicine”, Dr. Eugene Eisman’s story of his experiences–from the humorous to the intense—as a young army doctor serving in the Vietnam War.

Bitter Medicine by Eugene H. Eisman, M.D. –on Amazon

Doctor Curmudgeon® is Diane Batshaw Eisman, M.D., a physician-satirist. This column originally appeared on SERMO, the leading global social network for doctors.

SERMO www.sermo.com “talk real world medicine”

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