The last couple of weeks have been very stressful. Emotionally and physically as we all adjust to a new routine now that my mom is going to dialysis several days a week (we hope to be able to cut back or even stop in the near future as her kidney post-stent is functioning well). As a result, I’ve been forced to eat more drive-thru meals than normal and stress lowers the immune system… Wednesday there was an incident. I dropped mom off at dialysis and came home and began fixing myself lunch and then mom called… twenty minutes into her dialysis appointment “I’m ready to go.” Uh, no… that’s impossible, even on a great day dialysis is a two hour ordeal. You, can’t be ready “ready to go.” So she put on the tech and the she explained they were unable to get any pull from Mom’s port, none, zero, zip, nadda, absolutely nothing. This happens from time to time. The tech is telling me this as I pull my lunch out of the air fryer and set it on the table. Hm… I guess I won’t be able to eat that. I run back into town, knowing that Thursday or Friday, there’s going to be outpatient surgery to fix the port issue. More stress.
I pick mom up and we run through a drive thru for a cheap burger, because it’s almost 1:30 pm and I’ve yet to eat lunch and I’m feeling a little off. I eat as I drive home. Not ideal, but at least my blood sugar and blood pressure will stabilize and I won’t pass out while driving. Get home and the nephrologist calls, they want to do blood work bright and early Thursday morning and the port replacement bright and early Friday morning. Got it.
Fast forward 14 hours… I wake up and it’s 3:36am… and I don’t know why I’m awake. I go check on mom, she’s snoring. Neither dog is moving about. And then I felt my stomach clench… I dash to the bathroom and barely make it over the toilet as my stomach clenches into the tightest ball it can manage. I spend most of the next three hours on my knees in front of the toilet as my stomach is determined to rid itself of everything I’ve ever eaten in my entire life. At 6:30 am, I ask J, who has been dozing for the last three hours because even with the door closed and in another room, he can still hear me throwing up, if he thinks his mom would be willing to run my mom to get blood work done, because there’s no way I can manage and then I head back to the bathroom to expel all the bile that’s built up in the previous ten minutes of my life.
Thankfully, my mother-in-law is willing to take my mom to get bloodwork done. And I spend a few more hours going back and forth between lying in bed and being on my knees in front of the toilet. By 10:30 every muscle in my abdomen aches as does the corresponding muscles in my back and it’s shifted from my stomach to my intestines. By Thursday night, I don’t know whether I hurt more from lying in bed or from being sick, either way I am miserable… The very smell of food sends me rushing back to the bathroom. And by Friday morning, my digestive system had cleaned itself out so well I could have done a colonoscopy with no further prep necessary. But I feel a little better, until I try to eat a plain saltine cracker, which sends me back onto my knees in front of the toilet and then back to bed.
At 2:30 pm on Friday I call my doctor’s office and ask the nurse to call me back. By now, I’m positive I have food poisoning. The nurse calls and we discuss my symptoms and she says “yep, sounds like food poisoning…” But I’m the only one sick, so it had to be that stupid cheeseburger on Wednesday afternoon, because we all ate the same thing for dinner. If the diarrhea and vomiting continue into Sunday I need to go to Urgent Care and make sure it isn’t one of the big, bad forms of food poisoning… Friday afternoon, I’m lying in bed thinking I’m not going to live until Sunday, so that’s okay. She recommends I try drinking vanilla Ensure or Boost, so I have my sister bring me some after she picks up our mom from her port replacement procedure and then dialysis.
Wake up Saturday and I feel a little better and for the first time in days, my stomach growls. I get adventurous and eat about a third of a biscuit and immediately regret it. I keep it down, but I sure feel like I’m not going to. I open a Vanilla Ensure and I get about half of it down… then Lola flips her pan over, this is her sign that she wants food. The smell of even dry dog food is nauseating, but I manage to get both her and Kelly a little food and then I go lay down for a while. But I am feeling better and I’ve made no trips to the bathroom because of my digestive system thankfully.
I keep getting asked “how did you get food poisoning from Place X.” 364 out of 365 days of the year, that cheeseburger does not make me sick. Chances are if J had eaten it, he would not have gotten sick. Wednesday was week 2 of dialysis for my mom, that is stressful. We are all out of our routine, that is stressful. I have an anxiety disorder and tend to internalize stress badly even on good days. Add to it the fact that there was something wrong with Mom’s dialysis port and there’s a little more out of the norm stress. In the previous week, we’d eaten a lot of “on the go meals” as we made trips to the hospital and I was being forced to alter medication taking allowing me to drive and driving is painful, forcing all my internal systems out of whack. Someone asked if I was going to report them to the health department… Probably not. I looked up my city’s health rating system and they consistently make good grades and as I write this on Sunday, I know that part of the food poisoning was my own body’s inability to fight off an infection due to external and internal stress and that had I eaten that burger two days earlier or a week later, it’s unlikely I would have gotten sick.
I do feel better; proving it wasn’t one of the “big, bad ones” such as salmonella, e. coli, or botulism. Besides, to prove food poisoning from a restaurant means going to the doctor and giving samples. I once told my primary care physician if a stool sample was required of me, they’d have to knock me out and go into my intestines and take it. I’m fine with blood and gore, but regular/common bodily excretions, even my own, not so much. I can pee in the cup on demand and I can change a baby’s wet diaper, but I gag thinking about anything besides urine. In the last seven years, I’ve gotten better at dealing with baby spit up, but when my nephews were young, if they spit up and I saw it, I’d have to run for a bathroom because my stomach would empty itself.
The timing of this bout of food poisoning was atrocious. I mean there’s never a good time for it, but I’d just learned the following two days were going to be busy. Mom needed bloodwork done and then there was the port replacement procedure on Friday morning followed by dialysis and I was too sick to deal with either. Also, my sibling was out of town on Thursday which is why we needed to rely on my mother-in-law to take my own mother to dialysis. I am so very thankful she wasn’t busy and was willing. My sister rushed back on Thursday morning so she could take mom to her procedure and then dialysis on Friday.