My Old Friend Food Poisoning
The last time I had food poisoning was when I got take out at a restraunt I hadn’t eaten at in 20 years. This time it was from take out from an Iraqi mess hall.
The suspect: Chicken.
The cause: Eating between missions outside in the dark not being able to tell if the chicken was cooked all the way through. I rolled the dice….snake eyes!
It was one of the first days where the temperature was noticeably rising. It was the kind of day where the heat almost surprises you. We were doing a cordon and search in Abu Ghuraib with our Iraqi counterparts. Most of our time was spent going from neighborhood to neighborhood taking up positions blocking streets, securing the Iraqi General we were working with, and doing a lot of standing around in the sun.
After returning back to our little FOB (Forward Operating Base) late in the evening, I didn’t feel well but attributed it being in the heat all day. I went and got bottle of water and bottle of Gatorade; on sip was all I got down.
In an instant, my stomach started to twist and tighten. My mouth filled with spit, and I began to form my first pre-vomit strand of drool. I raced to the latrine only to be met by one of our cheerful interpreters. We climbed the three stairs into the 5 stall trailer together, with me slightly in the lead.
“Hey sir, how are you tonight?”
“Blahhhhhhhhhh! Blahhhhhhhggggrrrhhhhrsss! Blllllaawwwwwwgghrriazzzeddewallhjlkjhgskrea#$%Q$#A&$%^*&%^&(%#%#%^#%^@!”
I’m not a quiet puker and prefer to puke alone, then ball up on the nice cool floor next to the toilet, and wait for death alone, stewing in my own juices.
“Sir, that doesn’t sound too good.”
“Blaaarraahhhghkllkeklasjkjweruzukgnakrasdf!” A post-vomit bead of drool connected me, to the regurgitated, poison chicken laced toilet.
“Wow sir. Are you ok?”
“Kill me.” The bead of drool broke. The interpreter left. I was ready to die alone and in peace; Elvis and me dead on the toilet.
My wife says I’m a wuss when I get sick and, truth be told, I am. But getting sick over here is different. There’s no wife to bring you crackers and ginger ale, no kids to slide little home-made get well cards under your door, and, as long as you don’t die (not that anyone cares but no one would notice until they would have to the paperwork explaining your death), everyone goes about their business.
I spent the rest of the night racing to the latrine, interrupted by bouts of hot and cold while balled up on the bed in my CHU (Combat Housing Unit) feeling sorry for myself. With every ounce of fluid rejected from my body, I was empty. On my last trip to the latrine, my body, with one last ditch effort, tried to get it all out, but there was nothing but noise and pain.
When I was done, I tried to leave the latrine but the three little steps into the latrine seemed like a trip down the side of Mount Everest. So there I sat, a warrior defeated by bacteria. After about 10 minutes, someone happened by, asked if I was ok, then went and to go get a medic.
Three bags of IV fluid later, some pills, and a couple of light meals, I was back in the fight.
Good bye old friend.