Posts Tagged ‘stomach virus’

Food Poisoning, Food Allergy, or Stomach Flu?

February 8, 2010

Will depart from regularly scheduled programming today to bemoan the fact that for the third time in two and a half years I have some intestinal trouble that has had me completely off food since Friday.

I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating: It’s almost impossible to write about food when you can’t keep any in your stomach. So I won’t. But I will ask you all a question: Does that seem like a lot of tummy upsets in a short amount of time?

I ask because my friend Karen, whose hubbie Jay has pinch hit for me on two of these occasions by taking my son for the day, wondered if maybe I’m allergic to something and don’t know it.

Could there be a food that’s literally making me sick?

Karen has first-hand experience: She discovered she’s allergic to lentils. Lentils! Who would have thought they’d pose a gastrointestinal hazard?  But Karen ended up in the E.R after eating lentils so they’re off her list of safe legumes she can consume.

I’ve had food poisoning before;  oysters one New Year’s in Pt. Reyes and prawns one anniversary celebration in Milan spring immediately to mind.

Food poisoning is the pits. Acute, violent, it’s like you morph into Linda Blair in The Exorcist.

The Italian incident was the worst. The then-hubbie and I had exactly the same dish but only I succumbed at 2 a.m. in the most intense way. Maybe it was The Gods getting back at me for picking a fight on what was supposed to be a special, joyous occasion. Or maybe they were just equaling the score since he got hepatitis after our honeymoon in Mexico. Who knows.

Thank goodness we’d sprung for a modern Milan hotel room with a bathroom the size of my current cottage. I spent a lot of time in there and refused to let anyone in. It was a wild scene and I didn’t want any witnesses. Then we had to make a decision whether or not I was well enough to fly home that day.

I wasn’t. But I was also terrified of being left in a land where I didn’t speak the language and feared dying of dehydration with no one the wiser, so I forced myself to get on that 12-hour flight. It was not pretty. At one point I lay on the floor in the airport terminal. Ewww.

On the plane I found myself sandwiched between a group of happy clapping Baptists — Lord help me — who were, it must be said, very sweet. When I explained my predicament, that I would not eat anything in flight and might have to dash out of my seat without any notice, they were kind and understanding. By the end of the trip one practically snarled at the flight attendant: “Don’t you get it? She’s too sick to eat. Stop offering her food.” Bless that woman.

I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to crawl into my own bed than I was at the end of that journey. I did not change my clothes or brush my teeth. But I did lie there moaning in relief that I had made it home with my insides still intact.

What I have right now doesn’t have the drama of food poisoning. Maybe it’s a gut bug I picked up on an overnight field trip with a group of 5th graders. I started to feel bad the evening we returned from the three-day trip, though nobody else in our group seems to have gotten sick.

Or maybe it’s something I ate at a Thai restaurant Friday night — I can’t rattle off the menu or visualize it right now because it makes me feel icky. No one else in our large party got ill, but immediately after the meal I started to endure major discomfort during a dance performance we all went to and I had to head home in a hurry.

And that proved to be me last supper, for now.

While I’m on this sorry subject, my colleague Molly Watson over at the Dinner Files recently compiled a handy list for caregivers looking after someone with a short-term, yet incapacitating, illness. Check it out.

I’d add to her list: Feeding young ones so the sick don’t have to spend any time in the kitchen. Nothing worse than having to make dinner for kids when you’re too ill to face food. My son’s dad made dinner for our boy last night and for that I’m extremely grateful.

I’ll save the $15 co-pay at my doctor’s office and solicit online opinions. What do you think I’ve got — food poisoning, a virus, or food allergy — and what do you recommend I do to find my way back to food?

Molly suggests salty crackers, which I’d forgotten about. I think I might try and make it to the corner store for a box so I have something to nibble on, if the urge strikes.

Then it’s back to bed for me. Stay well.