"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a person lying on their bathroom floor in possession of a wretched case of food poisoning, must be in want of a quick death."
November 11, 2011. Many were excited about this date and hoped to give birth or get married. I guess because having 6 number ones in a row brings good luck?? Never heard that before. Sure I suppose it’s kind of cool to write out 11-11-11. But after the 30th email I sent that day for work with the date 11-11-11, I was over its very minor coolness. I understand 7-7-7 when that day came and went 4 years ago. Because lucky number 7 right? But I’ve never heard of lucky number 11 and for me it’s turning out to be a real shit number. You see, on 11-11-11 my food tried to kill me for the 3rd time in my life.
Let me take you back to Jr. high school and a very nasty Domino's Pizza my mom had ordered us for dinner. It had sausage on it, it had pepperoni on it, it had green pepper on it. And about 5 hours later so did our living room couch, chair and floor. My 2 older brothers and I all got sick at the same time. I suppose it could have been a stomach virus, but with the way that green pepper was flying through the air, I’m convinced we had a killer pizza. My poor mother. It should have been easier on her considering we were all teens and should have been able to make it to the bathroom in time for some of the chucking, but sometimes when your food attacks you, you don’t have the strength to sprint to another room. Sucks big time. I could not eat pizza for many years after that episode. People thought I was un-American. How do you not eat pizza Meredith? Because even the smell of it brought back memories of wishing for death. So no thanks, I’ll pass. When I did give in and started eating pizza again, I spent another few years pulling all toppings off so I just had the crust and tomato sauce. I got grief for that one too. I don’t know why. Why should anyone else care if I ate naked pizza for a few years?
Food poisoning episode number 2 took place in November of 1996 when I was 24 years old. I waited tables at night and shared a rental with my mom and brother during that year. I left my job early because I just wasn’t feeling right. The moment I got home I had the most violent puking I had ever had in my life. Coupled with the “rain” of terror coming out my backside, I thought I was dying. I was wishing for death out loud and became completely bonkers and incoherent. All of this was in only a matter of a few hours. My terrified mom who was probably channeling Ellen Burstyn’s character in the Exorcist didn’t know whether to call a priest or an ambulance. Thankfully she chose ambulance or I would be ashes on top of someone’s fireplace today. When the head EMT arrived he asked (like they all do), "What seems to be the trouble?" Are you freaking kidding me!? What seems to be the trouble? A volcano just erupted inside my body while lava guts are spewing out of my gob and my ass and you want to know what seems to be the trouble? "Uh Mister, can't you take a guess?" Is what I would have asked, had I been able to speak. There was no 'seems' to be trouble...this was full on trouble! I could not hold my head up or even open my eyes fully. They had to carry me out on a stretcher and hurry me to the hospital. They could not get an IV going because my veins were being difficult due to the extreme dehydration. They kept sticking me and sticking me all over my arms on that bumpy ride.
Finally, once I made it to the hospital, they were able to get the IV going through my hand. Those poor ER nurses and docs that night were in bed pan hell. They opened the door ever so slightly, just enough so that a forearm with an aerosol can attached to its hand could reach in and spray disinfectant. No one wanted to be my caregiver that night. Can’t say I blame them. Not a pretty sight (or smell) in my ER room. My mom peeked her head in to check on me at one point and said, “Meredith, don’t ever let anyone tell you your shit doesn’t stink. Because they’re lying.” True story. I will never forget lying on that cold bed in that cold room whimpering in misery alone while my ever so precious and dear mother practiced her stand up routine. Ba da bum! Good one mom. If I had the strength to lift my middle finger, I would have enthusiastically. A tearful look of desperation from my deathbed had to suffice. No, I wasn’t mad at my mom. She was trying to make me laugh. Something I find impossible to do when my body turns on me and decides to expel every single ingredient that ever entered my mouth. I’m quite sure there was a piece of brussels sprout in my vomit, and I hadn’t eaten a brussels sprout in 11 years. (My 7th grade Home Economics teacher made me eat one if I was going to get an A in her class. Torture.)
So the fluids and medicines in the IV finally started working and I went into a calm haze for a few hours. Some Dr. talked to me about Salmonella and told my mother she did the right thing by bringing me to hospital when she did because I would have eventually died at home otherwise. Gee whiz – thanks undercooked chicken. Clucking bastard. They cleaned me up and I was sent home. Now I cook my chicken to a nice boingy burnt finish. And pretty much put on a hazmat suit whenever I have to handle the raw stuff. However, thanks to those beautiful already cooked rotisserie chickens they sell everywhere now, I rarely have to handle the raw stuff. I truly can’t believe I ever ate meat again after that nightmare.
But I did. And on 11-11-11, a dead piece of it turned on me again. Of course these days the plants are turning on people too. Spinach, tomatoes, cantaloupe. Maybe I need to just stick with Pop Tarts – nobody gets food poisoning from them. Perhaps a bigger ass and a bad cholesterol reading, but not food poisoning.
I ate an all beef burrito at a little strip mall Mexican restaurant. Mexican food is my absolute favorite. Chips, salsa, guacamole, beans, cheese, non-psychotic beef, queso. The list of deliciousness goes on and on. But the beef burrito was very odd. It was a tortilla filled with beef only. No cheese, no spices, no sauce, no tomatoes, no onions. Nothing but ground up cow parts and a few tasteless toxins (I would find out later). 7:00 pm was the first hint of my near hellish future. You know that feeling. Just a little odd flutter in your gut that makes you put your hand on your stomach, wince a little and start the prayers. Something like this, “Oh no, please God. No. No no no. Don’t let this be what I think it is. Please let this be just a little upset stomach. One round on the potty should get my belly right….right? Oh please oh please oh please.” For me, those prayers fell on deaf holy ears.
You don’t need details about the next 10 hours. Because there is not a single one of you that doesn’t already know what those details entail. But I will tell you I traveled (usually in crawling style) from my bed, to the bathroom floor, to the hallway floor, back to the bathroom floor, back to my bed, back to the bathroom floor, back to the hallway floor and so on until it was 4:30 in the morning. That is when the retching stopped. But it wasn’t over yet. It’s not the puking that dehydrates you. It’s the other foul stuff that I can’t seem to bring myself to spell out in words. And that bullshit (there you go!) went on throughout the day. By Sunday morning, I was as pitiful as a legless zombie. Moaning rather than talking, crawling rather than walking. My husband had had enough and scooped me up to take me to the hospital. One IV and a magic bag of fluid later, and I was almost not pitiful anymore. If my husband had told my mom’s joke from 15 years ago, I would have chuckled a bit.
So what I have I learned from all of this havoc that has been wreaked to my insides? Bacon. Bacon is where it’s at. Bacon has never turned on me and it never will. Don’t say “Huh uh, you had sausage and pepperoni on that Domino’s pizza liar!” Because then I will be forced to say, “You’re right. Sausage and pepperoni. Not bacon. I didn’t say pigs, I said BACON! Ya useless wanker.”