Gray Matter


I Suffered From Food Poisoning in the Philippines, Twice

food poisoningI suffered from food poisoning twice in the Philippines, once in 1988 and once in 2016. If it ever happens again, it will be due to my own stupidity, not someone else’s.

According to Wikipedia, it’s properly called a foodborne illness. Six of one or a half dozen of another, it’s the same thing.

Food Poisoning in 1988

I stopped in the Philippines to pick up my wife, Josie, and our children while I was traveling from Okinawa in Japan to my next duty station. They were staying in the house we bought for Josie’s family before I left Okinawa. My parents-in-law didn’t have the kind of food I would eat, so Josie sent her mother to the market to buy corned beef. She returned with ground beef, already cooked. I thought nothing of it and ate it with some rice.

Later in the evening, I was drinking Red Horse beer and eating pork rinds. By morning I had diarrhea and started vomiting. Josie wanted me to go to a local hospital but I refused. I must have consumed more than 20 gallons of water over the course of the day and nearly half of the day in the nearby outhouse. Later, after I recovered, Josie said the “Red Horse” kicked me. I wish it had been that simple.

Food Poisoning in 2016

I don’t remember who bought the food, but I ate two siopao (steamed buns filled with meat) brought back from a “fast food” restaurant franchise in the early evening. In the wee hours of the night I came down with a fever and spent some time in my personal hygiene room. I took some ibuprofen, the symptoms subsided and I went back to sleep.

After eating lugaw (congee) for breakfast, the symptoms returned in full force and ibuprofen had no effect. Josie sent an in-law to a nearby pharmacy to get paracetamol (the international name for acetaminophen) and an hour later, the fever broke.

Never Again

I’ve been extremely careful about where my food comes from since 2016 and I haven’t been sick since then. I won’t buy food from any of the restaurants in the Philippines where it isn’t freshly made and I definitely won’t buy anything from the open market, where meat hangs out in the open for hours at a time.

When I’m in the United States, I’m just as careful. I haven’t even had a cold since 2016 and I don’t plan to be close enough to anyone to catch anything ever again.

Photo Attribution: Televido / CC BY SA
Edited and updated. Originally published at one of my other websites in September 2016.

Author: RT Cunningham
Date: September 11, 2020 (UTC)
Categories: Food and Drink, Health

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