Monday, May 2, 2016

Fire Sticks Versus My Eye Balls

I'm sure most people already know about the lengthy drought we are having out here on the west coast. As a result, many people have replaced their landscaping with native drought tolerant plants. Many of those plants are succulents and various types of cactus.

One of the plants you often see around here is Euphorbia Tirucalli. Also known as fire sticks, sticks of fire, milk plant, pencil tree, etc. These three are in front of our house.

After a recent windstorm, the one in the middle was badly leaning. I straightened it up and staked it in place. I broke a few of the pencil sized branches and they oozed white sap (that I apparently got on me, and somehow into my eyes).  When I was done, I washed my hands and went about my business. That only lasted about five minutes. That is when my eyes started severely burning and hurting. I Googled the plant and it said that if you get the sap in your eyes, try to rinse them out. However, if you are allergic, or they don't stop hurting, go immediately to the emergency room at your local hospital. I wasn't sure if I was allergic or not, but within a few more minutes, I was pretty sure that I was.

I'm sure you already figured that out after looking at this photo. My face and head were puffy, beet red and covered with hives, welts, and splotches, and my eyes were on FIRE! The waiting room was full and I seriously thought I might have to tear my own eyes out. It killed me when they were open, and it was worse when they were closed. Even worse than that though, was when I blinked. That was torture. I guess they didn't like what was happening to me, and took me right in.

The ER doctor said they only see this about once a year. The sap was apparently very toxic to me and it was possible to become temporarily blind (or worse).  He then said they needed to rinse my eye sockets out and it would be very painful. I said it couldn't hurt worse than what I was already feeling. He said "not only can it, but it will, and we can't give you any painkillers until it is done."
In this photo, they are putting rubbery round things OVER my eyeballs. They went UNDER my eye lids (top and bottom).

The things are on my eyes and what you can't see from this angle is the round port that now sticks out of each eye. Those things didn't let me blink and also allows them to...

 ...attach freaking TUBES to my eyes! Each eye was hooked up to a liter of saline. They said our goal was to flush each eye with at least half a liter. The more the better. Apparently, most people either insist that they take those things out of their eyes, or rip them out themselves almost immediately.

I guess this was why I got nothing for pain yet. I had to sit up and let the fluid drain out of my eyes and into that pink tub. I think most of it went down my shirt.

When they opened up the valves to start the torture, I couldn't believe how GOOD it felt. My eyes were still killing me, but at least the fluid had a cooling effect. By the time this photo was taken, I think I had totally disassociated from the entire ordeal and the bags were almost empty.

When they took the things off my eyes, the pain returned in all it's soul cleansing glory. The doctor said it usually lasts for a couple of days. He then asked me the standard, "on a scale of one to ten, ten being highest, how much pain are you in?" I told him that I have a really high tolerance for pain, and it was more than 10. The nurse walked back into the room with a syringe. The doctor said it was dilaudid should help with the pain, and maybe even put me to sleep. I laid back on the bed and waited, but it did nothing. After a short while, I got another one, and then another. Still nothing!

He said I had reached the legal limit of what he could administer to me. That sucked. I think I had 6 milligrams in me and nothing had changed. He gave us a prescription for oxycodone or hydrocodone and a few to "tide me over" until we could get the prescription filled. Despite all the dilaudid in me, I got out of bed and walked out of there like I hadn't had any. We went home, I took one of the pills and washed it down with a full glass of wine. After all, the bottle said "Warning: Alcohol may intensify the effect." I know that was dangerous, but I seriously didn't care at that point. After about 15 minutes, I took another pill with more wine. I finally went to sleep and/or passed out. When I woke up several hours later my eyes felt a lot better.

It has now been about 3 weeks and all is good!

Watch out for fire sticks!


  1. What a horrible experience. And it's such a pretty plant. My husband and I live in a part of California that has been having a drought, and we've thought of planting drought-resistance plants. We'll steer clear of this one, though, and also read all the warnings on any we pick. Hope your eyes are back to normal now.

  2. It's a very pretty plant but that sucks that you are so allergic to it. Hope you are feeling better.

  3. Holy shit!! Pat, in all my time I've never seen one of these, and you've just convinced me to perhaps never visit California again!
    As you are all too aware, the surface of the eye is one of the body's most sensitive, I just can't imagine.
    Glad you're better, rent a flame thrower and away with those plants.


  4. Oh my goodness! You went through quite an ordeal. Glad you're okay now.

  5. Elizabeth Varadan - Since that happened, I see fire sticks all over the place. Everything is fine now.

    Kay - It really did suck!

    Should Fish More - I think a flame thrower would work out just fine. You are right about the eyes being sensitive. It was like the inside of my eyelids were sanding down my eyes, or visa versa, or both! Thanks Mike.

    William Kendall - Yes it was! Something I never want to go through again.

    Montanagirl - Thanks! It really was an ordeal.

    1. Pat... I also had the same experience. While waiting in the ER and prior to the saline flush, they triaged me with an injection to numb my eyes. Afterwards I did some research and found the poisonous sap is easily converted to gasoline. Yup, we both poured gas into our eyes. Recovered as well. Good luck to you.

  6. Yike Pat, we just can't imagine the pain and we're sure glad to hear all is okay now!

  7. Ouch - everything about that looks incredibly painful. I guess those fire sticks are named appropriately! I'm glad you're better now.

  8. YIPES... That sounds absolutely horrible...Glad it is finally over for you....

    Last Spring I got into something (never did find out what it was) while weeding in the yard ---and I broke up with an itchy rash (sorta like poison ivy--but not that)... It spread like crazy ---and I was miserable for about a week. Luckily, it didn't effect my face or eyes --and I didn't even go to the doctor. I just got some cream for itchy rashes from the pharmacy --and did what I could to not scratch... Even still though, it was NOT fun.

    Be careful, Pat, and stay away from Fire Sticks...


  9. Lord in heaven! Those things would be out of my yard so fast it would make your head spin!

  10. Hello, now that sounds awful. I can only imagine the pain. I have Sjogrens disease which is basically dry eyes. My eyes hurt a lot but I am sure no where near how your felt. I am glad you are better now. Enjoy your day and the week ahead!

  11. Holy sh*t, that sounds like such an intense bummer of an experience. Thank you for writing it all down, so I now know to avoid that plant if I EVER see it, which I hope I never do. Yikes. Really glad you are okay. (Great photos too!)

  12. So glad you are better! I wonder if there are any fire sticks in Kansas?

  13. Good lord, that sounds HORRENDOUS. And you looked red as a beet! I'm glad you're feeling better now but as someone with a low tolerance to pain, I winced a LOT seeing those photos. Yikes. So lesson here is NO FIRE STICKS FOR ME. Ugh! Glad you're better. :)

  14. Good grief. Looks more like you were captured by aliens and hooked up to some UFO monitoring contraption. I've seen those plants around and am glad to be forewarned, though not happy to have been informed as such. What a horrible and scary experience. I'm so glad you're feeling better and that ordeal is well behind you.

  15. OMG, Pat, those photos with tubes in your eyes are beyond freaky! Now, I've seen everything! Holy hell!

  16. not food. The plant is beautiful but not worth what happened to you. Never seen anything like it. Glad you are OK now :)

  17. Wow, Pat!! What an ordeal! I'm glad you are OK, though.

  18. Oh my Lord Pat. This hurt to read -- I hate having anything done to my face, especially my eyes. (Had an eye exam yesterday; I feel terrible for having complained that the bright lights for the glaucoma test gave me a headache... I promise to never fuss about that again.)

    And I will certainly never ever touch one of those plants.

    Did your wife take the pictures? She has a brave and steady hand if so.

    I'm so glad you're doing OK now. (And just let that Xeriscaping do its own thing -- don't do a thing with it!)

  19. Brian - thanks Brian! Now that it's over, I can't imagine it either.

    Al - Ouch yeah! I will never touch one again. Thanks Al.

    Betsy Adams - It sure was! Your experience doesn't sound like much fun either. Thanks Betsy!

    Ms. A - I would like to do that, but it would be more prudent if I just kept away from them.

    eileeninmd - It really did suck! My MIL has dry eyes also. So riddle me this, when a person has "dry eye" why do their eyes water so much? Sorry you have that problem and hope it improves.

  20. robin andrea - A MAJOR bummer! I'm very happy that it quit hurting quicker than they said it would. Thanks Robin!

    marlu - Thanks Marlu! I'm not sure if they would grow there. Better if they don't, right?

    VEG - Horrendous is a great word for it. I couldn't believe how red I was either. I agree about not having fire sticks. For anyone! Thanks!

    Stickup Artist - HA! That is what it felt like also. Yeah, these plants are pretty popular. Guess what? They can grow to be 25 feet tall. I am feeling back to normal Thanks so much!

  21. DEZMOND - I thought the exact thing. I wouldn't wish it on anyone. I'm glad my wife took a few photos.

    NatureFootstep - I agree with you. However, my wife wants to keep them. That's okay with me, as long as I never have to touch them again.

    Liz - Thanks Liz! Doing fine now.

    Sallie (FullTime-Life) - I'm used to some problems with my eyes, because we have cats and I'm allergic to them. I guess I should say that my eyes are allergic to them. If I don't touch my eyes, than I'm okay. Yep, my wife took the photos. I asked her to. Thanks so much Sallie!

  22. Oh my goodness - that must have been soo paintful! Sorry you had to go through that! So happy for you that you're not in that painful place anymore!

    About Seasons: maybe you don't realize - you don't link up a whole post to Seasons, just one pic, so you can use the previous posts again, and show another pic than the last time ( the only "rule" is that it's a pic from this (Spring) season! So between Sunday and Wed. just link up one of your previous picsfor SEASONS! Have a great weekend! Please, stay safe!!

  23. Oh my gosh, Pat, that is a horrible and painful experience! I am so sorry to see that you had to go through such ordeal.

    Hire someone and remove those things right away! I can't imagine it will get to someone else.

    I hope and pray that you are getting better and stronger.

  24. Holy shit Patty.. that's awful! Glad you're okay now mate... Looks horrendous.. no pun intended there.
    Awful when you're in pain, in a hospital and they cant do anything. More likely dont want to be liable for any overdoses.
    I would have gone the booze too.

    Well you've got it all documented.. there's a story right there.

    Now.. what are you going to do with that plant, or have you already kicked the shit out of it!?

  25. Wow, this sounds like a nightmare that came true! I'm glad that there were no permanent effects.

    Ironically, as I was catching up on your posts, I was thinking that it would be cool to explore the desert but it could also be dangerous. (rattlesnakes, dangerous plants etc.)

    Now I'm reminded that danger can find us anywhere.

    Anyway, great posts as always and thanks for the fire stick warning.

  26. oh, my goodness! a horror episode! lordy, pat! so glad you survived it with eyesight intact!

  27. jeannettestgermain - It was pretty darn painful. Thanks!

    Icy BC - It was both horrible and painful. Feeling better now though. These plants are all over down here. Very drought tolerant. Thanks, I'm as right as rain now.

    Anthony J. Langford - Thanks Anthony! I'm doing well now, but it sure felt horrendous. I'm afraid to damage it in any way, I might get some of that sap on me again.

    James - That's a good way to describe it James. The "nightmare that came true." You are right about the desert. Although it is beautiful, it can also be very dangerous. Thanks James...

    TexWisGirl - Indeed it was. I can still see though! Thanks!

  28. Oh my God! I am going on a fire stick cleansing drive in my garden right away!

    Hope all is well now.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  29. YIKES Pat....just reading about your ordeal and looking at these photographs, I could FEEL your pain.

    " I took one of the pills and washed it down with a full glass of wine. After all, the bottle said "Warning: Alcohol may intensify the effect." I know that was dangerous, but I seriously didn't care at that point."

    I would have done the exact same thing!

    Glad to hear you're much better now. Take care.

  30. Pat, you are so brave!!! I do hope you're feeling better. My warmest wishes for a speedy (pain-free) recovery.


  31. Stewart M - As well you should my friend! Thanks Stewart, all is well.

    Ron - Same with me! It really did suck Ron. Thanks so much!

    Nevine Sultan - Probably more delirious than brave. Thanks Nevine! Very nice to see you here.

  32. Such an awful thing to happen to you. So glad that your eyes have recovered.
    Guessing you will be wearing plenty of protective gear next time you garden near those things

  33. Pat! What a nightmare. So glad you recovered!

  34. OMG - how awful for you!

  35. Trish - Thanks Trish! I'm not going anywhere near those things.

    Pam Tucker - Thanks Pam! It was indeed a nightmare.

    ladyfi - Yep! not one of my favorite experiences.

  36. OMG Pat! What a nightmare this was for you.. the tubes in your eyes seriously freaked me out so I can only imagine what it was like for you. Never ever getting one of those plants :)

  37. OMG, man! Have you hired someone to get rid of those plants?!!!

    Glad you're feelin' better!

  38. PerthDailyPhoto - Yep! It is not something I ever want to do again.

    Vid Digger - Nope! They are still there.

    Anonymous - If you also had this experience, I feel very bad for you. I would have GLADLY accepted injects to numb my eyes. HA! After you said that about the gasoline, I looked it up. Wow! Thanks so much for the comment and good luck to you as well.

  39. Oh my gosh. I am SO glad everything turned out well because this looks like it could have been very serious!!! Ouch.

  40. Mandy Southgate - Thanks Mandy! So am I...

  41. My fire brotha,

    I feel your pain, literally. I had no idea... Last night while doing some landscaping I decided to trim the fire sticks... I had all kinds of goo on my fingers.... Ahhhhhhhhh!! That was @ 8:30pm, excruciating pain... I couldn't see, I couldn't sleep... Before my eyes completely shut closed I did a search for treatment and determined the only thing the ER would do is flush my eyes and give me Benedryl. Heck I could do that myself (and I hate Benedryl). No relief... Then there was the panic attract... This was the absolute worse experience I have EVER had, EVER!!!! I finally passed out @ 4am 7.5 hours later... Today they still burn.... Those things should be illegal, serious I don't give three and a half craps how pretty they are... On a scale 1 to 10.... I would give it a 75....

  42. Anonymous - Those things are deadly! There was no way, I was going to take care of it at home. I would have ended up digging my eyeballs out! Thanks for the comment! Hope your eyes are better soon!

  43. Yikes! That sounds awful! I'm sorry you had to go through that, how miserable it must have been. I don't think I've ever seen those plants before, but I certainly will keep my eyes open for them and never go near them.

  44. Baby Sister - Yep, it really sucked. Believe it or not, we now have more of them...

  45. Hahahaha. Of course you do. That is hilarious. Be careful!

  46. Baby Sister - Hmmm.... Maybe my wife is trying to kill me.....

  47. Oh my gosh that sounds absolutely horrible. I am so glad you finally recovered from it. I can't imagine going through that at all.

  48. Ida - I wouldn't wish this on anybody! I'm still kind of amazed at what happened. I really do have a high tolerance for pain, but this was tough to take. Thanks Ida!

  49. Happened to me a few days ago. Only one eye thankfully.
    Worth mentioning, This stuff is incredibly residual as well. I got some on my hands around midday. I washed my hands liberally with soap all over. They dried and there was no known residue, not sticky and no milkiness whatsoever on my hands. Sometime around 3:30pm, I must have rubbed my eye with that hand. Boom. There goes my night. Same as you, meds didn’t work, worst pain ever.
    Since then, read you should really use heavy duty soap with sand in it and scrub like no tomorrow if it ever gets on your skin.

    1. Anonymous - It really does suck! Sorry it happened to you. I don't go anywhere that stuff anymore.Thanks for taking the time to comment.


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