June 15, 2009
The Food Poisoning Fiasco of 2007
By PORTIA PEREZ -- SLAM! Wrestling
Originally, I told myself I wouldnít write about this particular "Trip from Hell". Itís gross, for starters, and I questioned how much it really had to do with wrestling, as I never made it to a show during the entire duration of the story. I have decided, however, that I canít possibly recount my Trips from Hell without telling this story, so, without going in to too many gory details, this is the story of the Food Poisoning Fiasco of 2007.
I will summarize the set-up for this story somewhat, so as to avoid writing about anything too vomit-y. I was on an overnight flight from Ottawa to London -- for my third trip to Europe, in April 2007 -- when shortly after eating dinner, maybe an hour or two in to the flight, I became ill. And, as the flight is somewhere along the lines of seven hours, I became more and more ill over the course of the flight, worsening as I became more tired and more dehydrated.
For anyone wondering what its like to be 19, traveling alone, and violently ill on a trans-Atlantic flight, I donít think thereís any way to describe it. It got to the point where I was having an internal dialogue with the powers-that-be, offering quite literally to do anything to make it stop. But, had that worked, you probably wouldnít have this "great" story to read right now.
The flight attendants were very nice to me throughout the flight, mostly because they thought I was an unaccompanied minor, and one in particular urged me to go to the hospital as we neared arriving in London. I initially told her that I would be fine, but somewhere along the way decided it would probably be a good idea to go. I was arriving in London early in the morning, and didnít have a show that day, but had to catch a flight to Germany the next morning. I figured that, since you hear about people getting food poisoning all the time, it was no big deal; Iíd go to the hospital, get some fluids in me, get some sleep that night, and head to Germany the next day for a match with Cheerleader Melissa.
I asked to be taken to a hospital, any hospital, as I was not familiar with the English healthcare system; in truth, Iím still not. So I was taken to a random hospital, which I still donít know the name of, and was brought in to the ER with what was pretty obviously some kind of food poisoning.
Iím not sure exactly what tipped me off, maybe just instinct, but I got the feeling very quickly that this hospital was not the greatest. Given my suspicions, and the fact that they likely wouldnít have access to my medical records, I told everyone who came in to my room -- doctors, nurses, janitors -- these exact words: "Do not give me codeine. Codeine will kill me." I also demanded several people write it on my chart, which they insisted they had.
Not long after I arrived, a doctor and a couple of nurses came in and, given my dehydration, spent quite awhile sticking me with needles before finding a vein to put an IV in. The doctor then told me she wanted to take a blood sample, so they could find out exactly what was going on. Now, I donít think it takes a doctor -- or a rocket scientist -- to know that youíre probably not going to get a blood sample from someone whoís been vomiting for eight hours. But I thought "hey, Iím not the doctor here", and decided to let her give it a shot.
After sticking me with a needle 13 times, all over my arms and hands, I had finally had enough, and informed this "doctor" to come back in a few hours, after my IV drip had some time to hydrate me. I assured her that I had given blood many times, and she would have no problem then.
They had given me something to stop me from being sick, which was a God-sent, and I got a few hours of sleep before they came back and, not-so-surprisingly, were able to take blood with ease. They insisted I stay at the hospital until they ran the blood sample, as they needed to make sure I wasnít suffering from some sort of infectious disease. I thought this was a bit redundant considering that no one who had treated me was wearing any sort of mask, so it seemed a little late to begin worrying about an outbreak.
The doctor moved me in to a room, insisting that I stay the night, especially after learning that I had originally planned on flying to Germany the next day. I was informed not long after that I was suffering from some strand of salmonella poisoning, the name and details of which I donít recall. I declined any sort of medication to help me sleep, as I was comfortable at the time despite still being sick, and was sleeping very nicely when something woke me up.
I looked up groggily to see a nurse about to put something in to my IV. I asked her half-asleep what it was, as I hadnít seen anything be put in to my IV in that manner. As she had just begun to put it in to the tube, she answered, "codeine, for the pain" -- you know, codeine, that thing that will kill me. I felt that I had been very patient that entire day despite my exhaustion and general discomfort, through failed blood tests and nurses who refused to allow me to eat. But in one of the few times I have seriously lost my temper, I actually bitched out the nurse. Yep, Iíve spent like 20 minutes trying to make me not sound like a jerk right there, but there you have it, I bitched out the nurse.
A few minutes later, the person who "knows what theyíre doing" that I had requested arrived at my room. Having just been the victim of two of my biggest pet peeves -- being woken up and having someone try to kill me -- it took all the restraint I had to calmly explain to this doctor what all the fuss was about. What he had to tell me was far more interesting, though.
I had sensed that this hospital was not the greatest, but I was shocked to learn that, not only had my codeine allergy not been noted on my chart, but I had no chart at all; very helpful for any impending insurance claims. The doctor informed me that they get too many short-term patients to keep charts for all of them. After a good two minutes of awkward silence as I stared at this guy in disbelief, I decided there were no words that could express what I was thinking that wouldnít lead to more problems, and opted to just go back to sleep.
As my mom works in a hospital, Iím familiar with how they work, and I woke up in the middle of the night knowing that all of the nurses who had denied me food would no longer be on shift. I wandered the halls for awhile before finding a lone medical intern, who seemed like the prime candidate to be persuaded in to bringing me some unauthorized food.
After eating about three grilled cheeses, I slept for the rest of the night and was discharged the next morning. I ended up missing two shows that weekend, the wXw show in Germany and the Chickfight tournament in England, but was able to finish the remaining three-and-a-half weeks of my tour without any problems. And for anyone wondering, I havenít eaten meat on an airplane or at an airport since that day -- not a small feat, especially on a trip to India.