Tainted Love

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Even the beautiful money plant couldn’t assuage my tainted love. – tangledpasta.net

By Mary Anna Violi | @MaryAnnaVioli

  This is Day Three of my coping with food poisoning.

Thus far in 2016, I have had the flu three times, each one a different variety, and now food poisoning. While I was ill on Valentine’s Day, and even on St. Patrick’s Day–alas, no Reuben sandwich with a Black and Tan, at least I enjoyed good health for New Year’s and Groundhog’s Day. I’m counting on being up to par for Easter.

When I was in my first year as an undergraduate at IU Bloomington, I lived in one of the dormitories. Eating food in a dorm was a new experience for me because I grew up with an Italian father who used nearly an acre of our property for a vegetable garden. We also had a fruit orchard. This meant we dined year round on freshly harvested garden vegetables, which my mother filled the deep freezer with to sustain us throughout the winter months. She also canned the orchard fruit; peaches were my favorite. Black raspberries, red raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries shared freezer space with the myriad of garden vegetables. My father knew farmers who butchered their cattle, thereby providing meat throughout the winter for our immediate family, and those of his two brothers’ as well.

Early on in the dormitory dining experience, my taste buds went into a tailspin at the blandness and downright weirdness of the food. I usually opted for hardboiled eggs and yogurt in lieu of what was purported to be meat. The only thing that was sort of all right was the Friday night fish. It reminded me of Lenten fish sticks if I squeezed fresh lemon juice on them. Desserts tasted good. This meant we could pack on pounds ingesting lots of sugary brownies, cakes, and pies.

Which brings me back to food poisoning. One evening the cafeteria offered up its tantalizing brownies. I ate one with walnuts. Within hours all hell broke loose in my body, like in “The Exorcist”. It seems quite a few of us who ingested the nutted brownies that evening suffered food poisoning. To this day, I view brownies with nuts suspiciously, that’s how memorable that bout of food poisoning was.

When I was stricken with food poisoning Tuesday night, I knew what the food was – improperly chilled meat that a relative had sent back with me from last week’s travels. Throughout the past nearly 72 hours of this ordeal, I have redecorated the bathroom, and not in an interior designer sense. I haven’t been able to keep down sips of water or clear Gatorade. By the time a friend arrived yesterday late afternoon, I was dehydrated, weak, feverish, and had slept most of the day. I learned I was within a hair’s breath of the ER and an IV. I had been in touch daily with my doctor’s office, but I was told I would have to ride it out, unless I became so dehydrated that I was disoriented. “Eat ice chips and try Popsicles,” was Day Two’s advice from the physician. My body ached from all the retching, like when one has bronchitis and coughs nonstop. The cramping continues, but isn’t nearly what it was the first 48 hours.

In looking over this bleak landscape of my wretched food experience, I have resolved to either return to being a vegan, or at least a vegetarian. Right now I cannot tolerate the sight of solid food.  I love food, but not illness from food.

Ciao for now.

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