Almost a week ago, I blogged about coming down with Saturday night fever.
That much was true. What I didn’t know that followed five days after that was the most severe case of food poisoning and diarrhoea I have ever encountered!
It still began on that fateful Saturday night. But it didn’t start until after some time in the evening when my husband came back from watching a movie. I had awoken at noon to my usual weekend routine. I slipped out of bed to make a decaf, only to change my mind at the last minute to brew a cup of tea before setting off to do the laundry.
Now here’s where it gets a little interesting. It’s been a long time since I had a cup of tea. Ever since I discovered the joys of drinking decaf, I’ve been boiling water for decaf on a regular basis (both on weekdays when I wasn’t working and on weekends). Which meant that my body was so used to absorbing decaffeinated beverages, so when I drank my tea that day, I wasn’t sure if it caused any chain reactions. Nothing happened after I downed the last drop of tea, so I went about my day, nibbling on this and that while waiting for my husband to come home with some grub.
I supposed my only mistake was not to have made a simple meal in the kitchen. I could have had scrambled eggs. I could have had aglio olio pasta with whatever leftovers there was in the fridge. I could have had the biscuits my husband stored away in containers on the kitchen counter. What made me sit at the dinner table without eating was beyond me.
So when my husband came back with roti canai and indomie goreng, I thought why not, since I requested that he buy some back. I had those and then went to take a nap. That night, we were dining with a friend and her husband (our last meal together before they flew back to Roswell the following Tuesday). Of all places, it was going to be at Rakuzen, an upper-class Japanese restaurant in Bangsar Village.
After my nap, however, things started to change.
The room spun a bit. My stomach felt queasy. I was nauseous. Frankly speaking, I didn’t feel like going out at all. But my friends were here and I didn’t have the heart to tell them to go home when they’d painstakingly made their way to our condo. So I sucked it up and said, “Let’s go!”
I think that itself was already a mistake. I could hardly stand upright. I went to the toilet at least three times while being out with them. I couldn’t enjoy my favourite bowl of bara chirashi don (similar to poke, almost). Yeah, I know how this looks. My stomach is weird yet I went ahead and ordered raw fish for dinner. It was a good thing that by the time we reached the mall for dinner, it was quite late and the place was closing up so we ate, paid and left. It was all I could do to not collapse when they wanted to take a group photo.
We dropped them off at their condo and were about to leave when they told us to wait as they had wanted to pass some stuff to us. All the while we were chatting and saying goodbye outside the car, I tried so very hard not to pass out. I even had to hold on to my car to steady myself. In the end, I had to make a move. If not, I would have fainted on the tarmac.
When my husband and I got home, I undressed and got ready for bed. I just wanted to crawl into bed and lay there. Like a broken prisoner. That night, my body shut down. I had high fever, temperatures reaching up to at least 38 or 39 degrees. I shivered under three layers of blankets, with no air-conditioning. My husband was flabbergasted.
After that, everything just went downhill. I had no idea what was raging inside my body but I had endless purging sessions in the toilet, regardless of time and hour. It started with an epic stomach ache, my guts roiling and raving inside me, the pain coming in waves like an angry ocean. It was intense, excruciating and I just felt like dying. It came every 15 to 20 minutes, causing me to leap out of bed and rush to the toilet. It was really depressing as I loved to eat and whatever my husband brought home, I could only have no more than five mouthfuls each time. A lot of food was wasted because I couldn’t eat them all. And my diet was super restricted too. Plain foods like porridge and oats. Soupy bowls of noodles. It was the same thing over and over and over again.
But then everything I ever ate and drank came out in a gush of liquid. I couldn’t drink much either, whether it was water or soup. I couldn’t get any sleep as the moment my head hits the pillow, suddenly the stomach pain would come and I’d be out in a flash and back on the toilet bowl. My husband lost sleep too as on those torturous nights, he’d be up with me while I purged. The worst part was, the purging would always hit me during the wee hours of the night, usually between 3:00am and 5:00am! These were the crucial hours to be asleep and each day, I would pray that I’d be able to sleep because I wanted to go back to work!
I am grateful and thankful to my new employers for being so understanding and patient with me during this whole week. It had been an endless stream of calls and WhatsApp texts, telling them that I couldn’t come in due to my severe medical condition and updates from my visits to the doctor. If it had been my previous company, oh boy, I’d bet they would have demanded that I come back soon, or insist that I check my emails and solve some stupid issue that other people can solve as well, not just me. They would have been unhappy and displeased that I was out of active duty for a week. The emails in my inbox would have piled up. My mobile would be ringing off the hook probably by some idiot who can’t seem to understand that I am in no position to do anything apart from tending to my relationship with the bathroom. The to-do list would have grown so long, probably as long as 35 floors down!
Throughout the entire week, I’ve not left the house except to see the doctor. It was a dark and depressing period. Sometimes, the stomach aches left me writhing in pain, or doubled up in bed, and there I was, thinking that maybe I should just kill myself instead. Then maybe I wouldn’t feel so much of the pain. I felt like I was dying, I might as well have been dead.
Three visits to the doctor’s and a blood test later, I learnt that I had contracted a serious case of viral infection. It was either that or a parasite that had dug its way deep in my guts and threw an illegal party. Or what the doctor called an ‘atypical bacterial infection’ since my white blood count was normal.
But today, today is different.
Today, I’m a different person because finally, finally I am on the road to recovery. All the tears and pain and suffering have finally eased up. I can sit upright for longer hours. I can finally sleep well. I can hold my food down without it trying to find a way out. I can drink water and pee like a normal person. I can do things that I couldn’t do otherwise before. And my new employers are waiting to welcome me back to work next week!
I felt like a prisoner-of-war earlier in the week, although I know their pain and suffering was a hundred times greater than mine. What I felt was probably on the lowest scale possible. But it certainly feels great to be alive. And I’ll never take personal hygiene for granted again. Not that I ever did but now I’d take it even more seriously than before. A few lessons I’d learnt as well:
- To be more cautious when eating out
- To be more careful when handling food
- To be more choosy when it comes what I’m eating
The latter point is not to be more fussy with what I eat but more in terms of watching what I eat. I went through some seriously dark times this week, crawling on all fours, desperate to find the light at the end of the tunnel. I lost count of the number of times I prayed to God, constantly asking him for the strength to get through my painful periods, to watch over me and help me through these tough times. I probably lost a couple of kilos, too, having not eaten much at all.
Remember, life is short. Life is precious. It’s time to take a good look at your life and take great care of yourself.