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Food Poisoning is NOT Romantic on Valentine’s Day

Posted in Food Safety,Our Blog on February 24, 2019

Love was in the air here at our house on Valentine’s Day, and we had celebrated literally all day. I felt like such a Pinterest Mom. You know the ones that cut the sandwiches into shapes, make homemade cake, arts and crafts with the kids, movies, etc. I had no idea that upon putting our boys to bed that I would encounter something that I at first had no idea what was happening, but soon learned exactly what was going on. Here is the story of my Valentine’s Day food poisoning fiasco.

We completed dinner with some cookies and chocolate covered strawberries. I thought this was the absolute perfect ending to our day of love. I even got flowers from my boys both big and little!

The kids bedtime is usually a strict 7:30, but on Valentine’s Day we stretched it to 8. The oldest had a fever and a slight cold, so he was taking some Ibuprofen and doing steamy showers as usual when he is congested. I sat up and chatted with my husband, we talked about our day as usual and I opened up my computer to get some work done. Shortly after I find myself taking care of our oldest because he just couldn’t breathe and wanted extra cuddles.

11 PM is when “IT” happened. By “it” I mean a wave of dizziness struck me as if I was almost car sick without being in a car. This immediately followed with waves of nausea worse than any I had since needing to have my gallbladder removed.

Several ideas came into my mind; the first being the flu. Our area has been wrecked with flu and other gastro illnesses including the dreaded norovirus. I didn’t think much beyond these ideas at first because we had been in public places and obviously germs are everywhere this time of year.

By 1 AM, I was not wanting to leave the bathroom for very long. Around 2, the oldest finally drifted off to sleep, but there was no sleep in my future. I saw every hour of the night on the clock and at one point I was so nauseous and sweaty that I actually went outside and sat on our porch for a bit. Anyone who knows Virginia in February you know how chilly it is. I was just that hot.

By sunrise I had experienced every possible symptom of a stomach virus that I could possibly name and without going into a lot of details I felt like I was going to have to somehow contact an underground toilet paper dealer and barter for more.

When time came for my husband to go into work he tried to get the day off but alas duty called, and he had to go into work. I contacted who was a blessing in disguise. While I do not recommend this for anything serious, I needed relief from the severe nausea that I was still dealing with and the fact that I was so dizzy that I felt I could barely stand up straight. 24 hour medical care is something that a lot of people are not used to unless you are heading to an emergency room, so this was a plus for me as I could see someone when I needed several hours before our doctor’s office opened.

I was happy to speak with a nice doctor who started to ask questions about things I had eaten and then a lightbulb moment clicked for me. I realized that I had in fact eaten those chocolate covered strawberries and maybe something was seriously wrong. That was the only different thing that had been eaten by me and no one else in the house. Honestly, I panicked but was relieved that this was not something that I could pass on to my boys like the flu or norovirus.

A call in for some Zofran, not much sleep until that evening and some very bland foods for several days I found myself still feeling very tired, but I survived. Other people who purchased local strawberries found that they were “rotten” and more soggy than normal.

I didn’t find my berries to be out of the ordinary but obviously something was up, and I can’t say that I want to have anymore berries anytime soon.

Food Poisoning Facts:

According to Mayo Clinic Contamination of food can happen at any point of production: growing, harvesting, processing, storing, shipping or preparing. Cross-contamination — the transfer of harmful organisms from one surface to another — is often the cause. This is especially troublesome for raw, ready-to-eat foods, such as salads or other produce. Because these foods aren’t cooked, harmful organisms aren’t destroyed before eating and can cause food poisoning.

Many bacterial, viral or parasitic agents cause food poisoning. The following table shows some of the possible contaminants, when you might start to feel symptoms and common ways the organism is spread.

Food poisoning symptoms vary with the source of contamination. Most types of food poisoning cause one or more of the following signs and symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Watery or bloody diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain and cramps
  • Fever

Signs and symptoms may start within hours after eating the contaminated food, or they may begin days or even weeks later. Sickness caused by food poisoning generally lasts from a few hours to several days.

When to see a doctor

If you experience any of the following signs or symptoms, seek medical attention.

  • Frequent episodes of vomiting and inability to keep liquids down
  • Bloody vomit or stools
  • Diarrhea for more than three days
  • Extreme pain or severe abdominal cramping
  • An oral temperature higher than 100.4 F (38 C)
  • Signs or symptoms of dehydration — excessive thirst, dry mouth, little or no urination, severe weakness, dizziness, or lightheadedness
  • Neurological symptoms such as blurry vision, muscle weakness and tingling in the arms

Risk Factors

Whether you become ill after eating contaminated food depends on the organism, the amount of exposure, your age and your health. High-risk groups include:

  • Older adults. As you get older, your immune system may not respond as quickly and as effectively to infectious organisms as when you were younger.
  • Pregnant women. During pregnancy, changes in metabolism and circulation may increase the risk of food poisoning. Your reaction may be more severe during pregnancy. Rarely, your baby may get sick, too.
  • Infants and young children. Their immune systems haven’t fully developed.
  • People with chronic disease. Having a chronic condition — such as diabetes, liver disease or AIDS — or receiving chemotherapy or radiation therapy for cancer reduces your immune response.

As for me, I am doing much better now, just a few pounds lighter.

By: Samantha Cooper, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)