I’d like to say that all new experiences with my sweetheart are wildly romantic — our first garden tomato, first sunset at the river, earning the top score on a pinball game …
But this week we shared an all-too-intimate moment of projectile vomiting.
At the height of produce season, I love to gobble up fresh food. Monday, I sliced and diced until we had a mammoth bowl filled with colorful produce.
A few hours later, my stomach was gurgling uncomfortably. When I put my hand on my lower abdomen, I could feel air pockets bubbling like the sulfur pits at Lassen Park.
Maybe I had gas. I decided to take a heaping spoonful of baking soda and was prepared to hide in the closet while I deflated.
Then the wave of nausea hit, followed by knees to linoleum and hugging cool white ceramic.
I would have naturally thought I had contracted the stomach flu, but soon my guy was taking his turn at the white urn.
“Honey, that was the first time we hurled together,” I said, trying to make him smile.
So how did we get food poisoning from something in that fresh salad?
Some of the food was from his garden, much from farmers market and some from local grocery stores. I made a point of washing it thoroughly, I thought.
Just to torture myself, I looked up common forms of food poisoning and their symptoms. All are similar, in that your body tries to quickly rid itself of the offending substances. But, in our case, we both had body aches as well. At one point, I was so dizzy I had to lay down in the middle of the hallway.
I now have a greater understanding, and empathy, when I read stories about large outbreaks of E-coli or disease that ruins people’s vacations on the Love Boat.
After the worst of it had passed, we wanted to ensure it couldn’t happen again. We scoured through the fridge throwing out anything that was in the salad, could have touched the salad or could have been touched by fumes of the salad fixings.
The refrigerator was emptied and doused in bleach, as were all countertops and cutting boards.
After a day recuperating, I talked with Kiyomi Bird, public health nurse with Butte County Public Health.
She said she doubts it was the salad.
Most infections that cause violent reaction have an incubation period of several days, she said. So eating a salad and getting sick a few hours later is unlikely.
A variety of bacteria and viruses that can make you sick are outlined on the Center for Disease Control website: http://goo.gl/dmp74r.
We did not eat at a restaurant recently, so we could not blame anyone else’s lack of hand-washing.
Bird said we could have picked up bacteria or a virus just about anywhere, which made me want to live in a bubble.
I felt stupid for throwing out all the food, but the purging did make cleaning the fridge much easier.
Some toxins can make you sick quickly, but often these are carbohydrates, like starches. For example, she said she would be wary of beans left in a bowl for several hours.
Most of the preventive measures on the CDC website, http://goo.gl/nboMRP, are things we’ve heard before, but which bear repeating. Wash your hands frequently. Use bleach-based cleaners to quickly clean up surfaces, wash dirty clothes quickly. Wash all your produce thoroughly, and cook food thoroughly.
After you’re sick, bleach the bathroom and wash your sheets and clothes.
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