Tip # 66

How to: Survive Being Poisoned

If you find yourself living in a murder mystery novel and a jealous lover or an agent of chaos has poisoned you, chances are she’s done it with cyanide. Even in the real world, cyanide poisoning is not uncommon. The poison, which can be extracted from dozens of sources both natural and chemical, may be inhaled as a vapour or ingested as salts.

Signs of severe poisoning include slowed breathing and heart rate, and collapse. Internally, the poison has rendered your body incapable of absorbing oxygen, suffocating you on a cellular level. If you haven’t immediately keeled over and died, a kit of sodium nitrate, amyl nitrate and sodium thiosulfate may revive you—but only a doctor will have these items on hand. Hopefully, your conspirators have ready access to wheels, or it’s lights out for you.

The other classic murdering poison is arsenic. A naturally occurring element, arsenic can slowly poison people living near heavy deposits. Famously, in real and literary history, it can also be administered in heavy doses, killing the victim.

If you’ve been dosed with arsenic, the first signs are stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea and perhaps sinister laughter from your arch-nemesis or former lover. Inside of you, 200-plus enzymes are rendered inactive and your organs begin to shut down.

If you can make it to a hospital, doctors may inject an antidote into your muscles that will help the toxin pass through your body without doing any further damage. Recovery is slow, but planning your revenge will be sweet. – CR

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