Saturday, August 27, 2011

It must have been the curry

Now I know how the patients in the case reports I edit must feel.

Gastroenteritis. Killer gastroenteritis. Enteritis that had me perched on the throne for hours on end clutching a wastebasket, losing it from both ends,  thinking this was going to be a remarkably undignified way to die* and wondering just how long it would be before anyone discovered the body. How many times would the phone go unanswered before the S.O. called the manager to ask him to check on me? He's still up at the retirement bunker, and we're past the stage in our relationship where we feel the need to talk to each other every day just to hear each other breathe.

Until last night I didn't know it was possible to puke so violently it could feel like I was going to break a rib or two in the process. To say I feel purged. . . there's definitely no excess choler** left in my system at the moment.

Odds are I got hit by a norovirus, but the question is from what? Much as I'd like to blame the curry because it was the last thing I ate, I know the time lag between it and the near death experience was too short. Norovirus causes most gastroenteritis, but it usually takes 24 hours or longer from exposure before the symptoms kick in. The other possibility would be a staph infection from my yogurt, but that just seems so highly unlikely. . .

On the other hand, symptoms for an enteric staph infection do include rapid onset and lightheadedness -- and lightheadedness and dizziness were actually the first two things to hit. And the good news is that whatever it was appears to have come and gone fairly quickly, also typical of enteric staph. I fell asleep wondering if I was going to have stagger down the hall one more time, and woke up 6 hours later feeling more or less human -- although my throat does feel like it was sandpapered.

*Ancient joke: I want to go peacefully in my sleep like my grandfather, not screaming in terror like the passengers in his car. . .

** From the Regimen Sanitatis Salernitanum, written in the 12th century:

If Choller do exceed, as may sometime,
Your eares will ring, and make you to be wakefull,
Your tongue will seeme all rough, and oftentimes
Cause vomits, unaccustomed and hatefull,
Great thirst, your excrements are full of slime,
The stomacke squeamish, sustenance ungratefull,
Your appetite will seeme in nought delighting,
Your heart still greeued with continuall byting,
The pulse beate hard and swift, all hot, extreame,

Your spittle soure, of fire-worke oft you dreame.


  1. Glad it cleared your system. That is why they have the toilet and tub close together in most bathrooms. for both ends working simultaneously.

    Last dose of that I had was Panama 2001. Three of us sick as dogs all night. Only thing we had all eaten was the Tre Leche (three milks) pudding. Staph infection then, not E coli?

    My mother used to say about the 48 hour flu (for some reason we called what you had the flu instead of food poisoning) was that for the first 24 hours you were afraid you would die and for the second 24 hours you were afraid you wouldn't.

  2. I think I had the same thing a few years back - the symptoms sound identical. I was the only one in the familyt to get it - so I never knew where it had come from. It was memorable.

  3. gastroenteritis, I've never experienced that, but hey, we all die without getting to pick the time and place, generally.

    Dying isn't what bothers me, living is what bothers me.

  4. Because you are a phenomenally talented writer, and, in my opinion, the world needs more of you. (Maybe the commas are weird, kind of like hyphens sometimes?)


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