Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Day My Coffee Almost Killed Me

Disclaimer: this is a cautionary tale. Also graphic. Also disheartening for travel mug-sipping-coffee-drinkers.

It was a regular day a few weeks ago. A normal, lazy summer morning. A ''mommy day" when I'm with the kids and they're not at summer day camp. Jamy was off to work and we slept in a little. The kids watched cartoons while I showered and prepped a huge homemade breakfast. I kid. I popped frozen waffles in the toaster oven and poured milk over cereal. Since we were running late, I brewed coffee straight into a travel mug, grabbed the keys, and headed off to a book club with other mommies and kids at the kids' school.

I meet with other Whitefield mothers during the school year. We meet weekly at Panera to talk about life, chat about a book, and what God is doing in our hearts and families. I just showed up one day for the coffee and prayed I would have something in common with the other moms. These women have become sweet friends (AND I got the bonus of cheese souffl├ęs - double win). So this summer, we planned to continue meeting. More laid back, with our kids playing on the school playground and the mamas all sitting in the gazebo, discussing literature and life. (More accurate: mamas sitting in the gazebo discussing a book and life and philosophy while running point on children, refereeing, and swatting at mosquito and melting in the heat.) But it's wonderful. For real.

That morning on my way I felt a little headache coming on. I swigged more coffee praying the caffeine would help and when I got there asked a friend for an aspirin. Due to summer schedules, there was only four of us, and I was thankful since by this time, my head was really aching.  We started to discuss Stepping Heavenward and by now my head was swimming, I was close to fainting, and scared I might puke on the shoes of a sweet mama I didn't know very well.  Then I was asked to read an excerpt from the book. Right about the time I was deciding if it would be more embarrassing to need to excuse myself or just keel down right there in the gazebo. I opted for the first and headed for the van.  

I barely made it to my van where I laid down in the back. By this time I was in so much pain I was crying and couldn't see straight (and I had visions of Bret Michael and wondering if I was having a brain hemorrhage). Because I was with three other mamas, they were right behind me to make sure I was ok. As I understand (since I wasn't very coherent for the next several hours), things went downhill from there and it was decided I needed to be rushed to the hospital. I was aware enough to drag myself into a passenger seat and ask for an ambulance not to be called (let's not add insult to injury and scar all the children). All I knew was I was in the worst pain I had ever experienced in my life.

"That's you in the hospital, Mama" - Isabelle

Several hours later, after a CT scan, blood work, lots of wonderful drugs, and kindly declining a spinal tap (no, thank you!) I was discharged from the hospital and feeling amazingly better. But the doctor was dumbfounded and concerned at the severity and the speed of my headache. Jamy was anxious that we were headed out of state for vacation in a few days and this might happen again. One of the mamas was going crazy thinking the aspirin she gave me might have been something else and she had drugged me (for the record it turned out to be a Tylenol). And I was just thrilled that the pain was gone.

But there was still the mystery of what caused the headache.

Last week I was running late again (I promise I'm usually prompt) to head to book club and I grabbed the same travel mug.  And I started to get a similar headache after drinking a few sips of coffee. I quit drinking and started putting pieces together.  The coffee mug...

You have to understand that I LOVE said travel mug (whose brand will remain nameless). It keeps my coffee hot for hours. And the best part is it doesn't leak. Ever. It's true. I once freaked out a security guard when I threw it in my purse to go through the x-ray machine. By the time I had been through security the guard was sold and he wrote down where he could purchase it. (Side note, he had to write down AMAZON. He was older...)

I rave about this mug to friends and family. But when I brought it home that day and looked underneath the little slot that seals it (where my mouth goes, friends)...wait for it...there was black mold.


Mystery: solved. After googling I'm pretty sure black colored mold CAN cause you to keel over at a book club, pass out in a van, and get you prompt medical attention at the nearest hospital.

Now, I know you must be thinking: ohmygoodnessdoesn'tthisgirlcleanhermug?! The answer is yes. In the dishwasher just like every other mug and dish and utensil I own just like every other human being (almost) on the planet. And no, I have never thought that if this seal keeps it from leaking during a security check upside down in my purse that maybe it was also tightly securing TOXIC FUNGUS 1 cm from my lips. Never occurred to me once. Clearly.

Until now. Until my coffee almost killed me. Actually, my travel mug almost killed me.

I'm still drinking my coffee. The mug is in the trash.


  1. Oh no! That's really scary. I'm glad you figured it out. I once found a moth in my nighstand glass of water (that I'd been sipping on all night) and I now inspect drinking vessels carefully, as I'm sure you will be now, too! lol.

  2. Susan, I was praying for you that day but it is even scarier to read this blog! I am so glad the Lord helped you and that you figured out the problem. WOW.


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