A brief visit to the other side

7 04 2012

At my age I do ponder what it’s like to be really old. I AM officially “madhara” (see Madhara at 52 on this blog) so I don’t think it’s a strange thought. My uncle has just turned 90 and he is still very sharp mentally though my brother in the UK says that his back and knees are giving him trouble. My aunt – my aforementioned uncle’s sister – is 84 and still going strong so maybe I have their genes, but what would it be like to “lose the plot” with one of the age-related mental disorders?

The warehouse stank. It had that recognisable agricultural chemical smell – acrid and unpleasant. I was really glad I did not have to work there. One of the labourers loading the coir bales into the back of my pickup was wearing a dust mask but I doubted that it gave him much protection. After the second visit to collect the balance of the order I was glad to get out of there and head back to the nursery to offload the coir. I have ordered a container load from India but it ran out last month so I have to rely on other stockists around town. The interior of my pickup still smelt strongly of agro-chemicals even at lunchtime.

Things started to go wrong at lunchtime but I couldn’t really put a finger on it. I just couldn’t really concentrate that well. At 2 p.m. I was showing an agronomist from a locally based fertiliser company around the nursery to see if she had any ideas on what could be causing the strange growth and deficiency symptoms in the cabbage seedlings that we’d been experiencing. I very unself-consciously and loudly farted and just continued like it was normal (I am not usually THAT indifferent!).

Being month end I got stuck into the accounts, or so I thought. One particular purchase gave me trouble. I couldn’t remember buying the fertiliser even though I’d apparently bought it the previous week. I had no idea why I’d bought it. I searched through the computer but the menu on the software that I’d written was not making a lot of sense. I eventually found the composition of the fertiliser (it has a trade name that does not indicate what the contents are) and concluded that it was a micronutrient mix (it is not) and assumed that I had bought it. I still had no idea what it was for. I continued on in a daze but the computer programme was still not making sense so I decided to go home early. I didn’t panic, there was nothing to panic about. I had even forgotten that I’d written the computer package which does everything from accounts to keeping track of stock, the various fertilizer mixes that have been used and the weather as well as various other business related issues.

I had tea and logged on to the internet to download email. There were a number of mails referring to Tumbuka, a local dance group. Tumbuka? Who or what was Tumbuka? I had an idea I should know more about this Tumbuka but it did not seem that important. I had forgotten that I am a trustee on the Dance Trust of Zimbabwe of which Tumbuka is an arm. I mooched around doing nothing much of consequence, had a light supper and went to bed early.

The next day I was back to normal mental functioning and realized that I’d experienced some form of poisoning, probably due to something leaking in the warehouse where I’d been loading the coir. I mentioned this to Stewart who is involved in agro-chemicals and he said it was likely a symptom of mild organophosphate poisoning. Curiously, at no stage was I ever aware that anything was actually wrong, there was no sense of panic and no other symptoms that I was aware of. Is this what Alzheimer’s disease is like? General confusion? I must admit it was not that bad but I hope I don’t have to find out. But then if it does happen – will I even know?



4 responses

7 04 2012

Well, I hope the agronomist reads your blog, lol, and may we never find out what it’s like to have Alzheimer’s or related diseases.

8 04 2012

How do the guys working in the warehouse feel or are they none the wiser? What might the the long term effects be to prolonged exposure to these chemicals?

10 04 2012

I haven’t been back but will mention it to the management when I do go. Long term exposure leads to all sorts of neurological problems as the organophosphate (OP) inhibits the release of choline esterase at the nerve junctions (synapses). Choline esterase breaks down acetyl choline which takes the nerve signal across the junction so in effect the nerve is always “on”. It is possible to test for long term exposure – even in Zim! I did see something a while ago about Parkinson’s disease being associated with long term exposure to agro-chemicals in general but I don’t know if it was ever proven.

17 04 2012
Just, well … absurd! « Zimbabwe Absurdity

[…] fit in a saloon or station wagon or I simply don’t want to carry in the vehicle with me. Agricultural chemicals are one! So I was more than pleased last September when the Minister of Finance changed the […]

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