TO THE BRINK AND BACK

My loyal readers, I have seen and experienced things in the last 48 hours that no person should have. Like I mentioned in my last post, I once again fell victim to food poisoning. The last time I got food poisoning was just over six years ago and I tell you, it doesn’t get any easier.

On Sunday night, I patronized two fairly expensive food-serving establishments, one for appetizers and then the other for dinner. I had seafood at both places. At the moment, I can’t rule out one or the other as to the cause of my distress. What I do know is that less than two hours after eating, I started to feel extremely nauseous and tired. It was to the point where all I could do was just put my head down on my desk and just rest. I just thought that maybe I was dehydrated since I hadn’t had a lot of water that day and I had three drinks during the course of the evening.

I began to sip water but the nauseous feeling didn’t go away. Drinking water actually made me feel more uncomfortable and increased this feeling of tightness in my upper chest. Only through burping did the tightness subside a bit. As my discomfort continued without any sign of resolution, I began to realize that I may just have to vomit. Now for me, that’s a pretty significant decision to make. I’m in the Seinfeld camp on this one, I try to vomit as little as possible in my life. I’ll take diarrhea over vomit any day (and I would get my wish later). Puking is a such a terrible thing to go through. Your body is trying to expel material out of your body in the opposite direction that it’s supposed to be going. At least with diarrhea, as bad as it might be, it’s still going the right way.

Alas, as much as I hate throwing up, I knew that it would be the right thing to do. I gingerly stumbled over to the toilet bowl and awaited my fate. It didn’t take long for me to get started. The first heave wasn’t anything more than a large burp. Then it started in earnest. It was full on, uncontrollable, violent, projectile vomit. It came out forceful and with a fury that surprised me. I had vomit coming out of my nostrils. I distinctly remember feeling two streams of puke coming of out my nose. I would guess more of it came out of nose than my mouth. And that was just the first volley.

I was a mess already by this point. I was dripping puke from my nose and mouth. My sinuses and throat burned from the stomach acid that been brought up. I felt the urge to puke again and rather than suppress it (which I really wanted to) I thought it would be better to just get it all out. I steeled myself for a second and then threw up again. When you puke, you make this sound that I can’t explain why your body does that. In any case, it’s awful sound to make and an even more awful sound to hear. I made that sound and once again, my nostril dripped with puke once more. This time around, my eyes began to sting. I quickly realized I’d puked with such force the stomach acid had gotten up to where your tear ducts usually drain into your throat, except it’d gone the opposite way. So here I was, dripping from different orifices and my throat and eyes burning from acid.

I threw up once more before deciding my body was done with puking (I was wrong). I cleaned myself up as much as I could. Removing puke from my nostrils was a first for me and it’s one of more disgusting things I’ve had to do. The tissue paper came out with this light brown-beige colour and it was surprisingly light on chunks. I then put water on my eyes and tried to blink the burning away. I did feel somewhat better, but by now I was getting muscle aches and I was getting chilly.

I decided to crawl into bed and sit upright with a glass of water. Every time I drank some water though, I’d get that feeling of tightness in my chest again that only seem to be relieved by burping. I’d also get very hot all of sudden, then sweat, and feel better, all in a span of less than five minutes. I didn’t sleep much that night, awaking every hour or so to sip water. It was here that I faced a dilemma, I began to get very thirsty but drinking water made me feel very uncomfortable as I described above. I knew I had to keep drinking water as dehydration was something I wanted to avoid. I managed to only drink perhaps a glass of water the entire night.

I got up around 8am on Monday to e-mail work that I was in no condition to come in. My nausea had returned somewhat and now, for whatever reason, I had developed pain in my lower back. It was in two places, symmetrically opposed, underneath both my kidneys. It began to hurt like a sumbitch. I was still really thirsty, so I tried to drink some more water but the whole nausea and sweats really made it difficult. I was also extremely fatigued at this point. I decided to go back to bed for a few more hours.

I think I got up around 1pm. At this point, I was feeling really thirsty, nauseous, fatigued, and had that debilitating back pain that came out of nowhere. I decided I had to go see a doctor because I was getting worried. It took me about half an hour to muster up the strength to get changed. Luckily, a walk-in clinic is literally less than 200 meters from my apartment building. It would take all my strength to get there. I walked very slowly to the clinic because I couldn’t walk any faster. My back stung from whatever was causing it to flare up.

To my benefit, the wait wasn’t very long to see the doctor. I must have looked like a mess while I was in waiting room. I had to slouch slightly in my chair since that alleviated my back pain somewhat. Soon enough, my name was called and I was shown into the exam room. A doctor that I’d never seen before came in. I explained to him my symptoms. He looked into both my ears and then got me to lie down. He pressed along my lower abdomen and asked if I felt any pain. I did not.

He diagnosed me with food poisoning. He gave me a sample of a stomach acid inhibitor and then told me to go buy some Immodium. I asked him why my lower back was hurting. He said it was because my bowel was distended. Nice. The doctor also told me to come back if things hadn’t improved by Wednesday morning. I thanked him for his time and then left.

As close as the walk-in clinic is, a pharmacy is even closer to my apartment building. It was there that I picked up the Immodium. Once I returned home, my nausea began to ramp up to levels that could not be ignored. I didn’t even make to the bowl and had to settle for the bathroom sink. It was the same violent and nasty projectile vomiting that I had earlier. Light brown-beige material came out of my nose and mouth. I must have had five to six good volleys of puke. I was shocked by the amount of liquid I was throwing up. I didn’t even know I could store that much in my body. At one point, I looked up into the mirror and saw something weird sticking out of one of my nostrils. I picked it out. It was a long, stringy and surprisingly intact portion of a green bean. I was pulling partially digested food out of my nose now.

The great thing about vomiting though was that it made my back pain go away. I’m still not sure what the connection was but sure was a blessing in disguise. I immediately took the Immodium and stomach acid inhibitor that the doctor prescribed. A few hours, I vomited again.

By the beginning of the evening, I no longer felt like vomiting but that’s when the diarrhea began in earnest. It was watery and it was frequent. Even the tiniest sip of water was disagreeable to my bowels. If I drank 10 ml of water, I’d lose 50 ml of liquid out of my butt. It went on like this for most of the evening. I was once again concerned about becoming dehydrated as I was surprised at how much fluid I was losing out of my bottom end. I’d be sitting on the toilet and asking myself where was all that coming from?

At around 4am I decided that the Immodium I was taking wasn’t working. I had some Pepto available as well so I gave that a try. I’m not sure if Pepto should get all the credit but the diarrhea got considerably better after that. I was able to sleep uninterrupted until about 9am Tuesday morning. When I woke up, I was still feeling pretty tired and wasn’t sure about my diarrhea status, so I called in sick again. At this point, I hadn’t eaten anything since Sunday night, a period of about 36 hours without any food. I detected the slightest bit of hunger, so I rolled the dice and ate a granola bar. After nervously waiting an hour, I felt neither the desire to throw up nor pee out of my butt. I was also able to drink fluids again without losing them right afterwards.

I spent the rest of the day answering work e-mails and then napping. I’m no longer nauseous, the diarrhea has stopped, and the back pain has gone away. I think I can go to work tomorrow.

No amount of words or watery, vomity prose can fully describe what I went through in the last 48 hours. It was a terrible situation, not because of one particular symptom, but all of them combined to act together to send me into a misery that was equal to, if not worse than the last time I had food poisoning.

I hope that none of you experience even a fraction of what I had to go through.

6 thoughts on “TO THE BRINK AND BACK”

  1. Good grief! Glad you are feeling better. A very well-told story–I was riveted right up until you pulled a green bean out of your nose, and then I had to momentarily look away. You took me on a trip dow memory lane to a week I spent in Ho Chi Min City 4 years ago, whereby a dodgy ham sandwich did me in. The results were the same (minus the green bean). Sympathy abounds.

  2. You know you’re sick when you realize the arrangement of toilet and bathtub, and the distance between them, is just about perfect. (This was the case with my North Van apartment, but as I think about it, probably not the case with either bathroom in my Coquitlam townhouse.)

  3. I too had a Seinfeld-worthy record of 22 years without puking until Christmas Eve 2007. There were no string beans involved thank goodness but it was still a rough night, and then I ate the smallest amount of Christmas dinner EVER!

  4. That was a riveting read, and I have a very real aversion to puke and pisspoo because people have done it in in my ambulance on occassions. I really felt your pain while I was reading it. Too bad I don’t live close by, I could have given you an IV of saline and you would have felt way better, much faster.

  5. Thanks Ed. You know when I was losing fluids quickly, I was thinking an IV of saline might be necessary but luckily it never got to that point.

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