Palolem Hospital, Goa

Seafood Poisoning Is Less Fun Than I Ever Imagined

Derek India 115 Comments

Palolem Hospital, Goa
It is only natural that the day after I published my post on how healthy I’ve been feeling as of late while here on the beaches of Goa, I would be stricken with an illness. And what an illness I’ve ended up with.

My face is swollen and red, there’s a rash on my arms, my legs and even in my ears. And if I were to list all of my body parts that have been affected and that have been itchier than the itchiest chickenpox, it would be one long list, not to mention quite inappropriate for a travel blog. Yes, that’s right.

The culprit appears to be seafood poisoning as all of my symptoms began only thirty minutes after eating a questionable fish curry a couple of nights ago. Actually, the fish curry looked fine but it was the restaurant that looked questionable.

Despite a strong dose of anti-histamine that I received from a pharmacist and despite a visit to the local government hospital (which was quite a nice hospital I must say and which charges only 300 Rupees / $6 USD for a visit) where the knowledgeable doctor confirmed the medicine I had was the best option, the swelling, rashes and itchiness have remained, although there has finally been a slight sign of improvement this evening.

But this morning, it was an entirely different story.

I woke up, washed off the zinc oxide soothing ointment that I plaster on my face every night in order for me to enjoy a semi-itchy-free sleep and then I went out to the beach. Thirty minutes later I felt tired and so I returned to my hut and laid down on my bed.

Rash Ointment

And it all went downhill from there. I only remember a little from the following couple of hours but according to my friend, who has had the most unfortunate job of taking care of me, I was in a most delirious state. I passed in and out of sleep, often times waking up in an instant, muttering some nonsense and then closing my eyes immediately after. My words were jumbled, I couldn’t focus on any one location for more than a second and I wasn’t comprehending much of what she was saying to me. Using my own strength to sit up was impossible and I would alternate between very quick and extremely slow breathing.

After about an hour of this, my friend finally managed to get me to stand up and while she wanted to take me straight to the hospital again, I used my ridiculous stubbornness to convince her that I should eat some lunch and see how I felt after that.

And then, on the way to the restaurant in front of my beach hut, I nearly walked into a tree. I didn’t even see it and again, according to my friend, I could barely walk in a straight line at all.

Anyway, I sat down, ordered a tomato soup and within minutes of taking my first spoonful, I thankfully started to feel a little better. But even though I managed to regain some of my awareness, I found it difficult to do much more than just stare into space and after my meal was finished, I just went back to my bed again for another sleep.

So now, here I am tonight. I just took my latest dose of medicine after waking up again after taking a long hot shower, and now my body is not nearly as itchy as it was earlier. I’m still covered in a good amount of rash and tiny white bumps, though, mostly on my fingers and legs, but this is the best I’ve felt since I ate that fish.

Of course, I am wondering if my brain has been severely affected by this poisoning considering that I am sitting here telling all of you about the swollen, itchy parts of my body, something that I am relatively certain you don’t really want to know about.

All I can hope for at this point is that I wake up tomorrow morning feeling a lot better and that you’ll forget I ever wrote this post. So, on that note, it’s about time for another layer of ointment and then I’m off to sleep.

Seafood Poisoning

But before I go, just in case anyone is curious, there seems to be two basic types of seafood poisoning – Ciguatera and Scombroid. Ciguetera seems to be more severe, at least the symptoms are, and is caused by eating fish that have ingested certain toxins that are produced by dinoflagellates (that word sure gives me a flashback to high school science classes!) that are found in tropical and sub-tropical bodies of water. Scombroid, on the other hand, which is what I’m dealing with, occurs when you eat fish that was not properly refrigerated or preserved after it was caught. The toxic agent in this case is histadine, which is found naturally in fish, however, if the fish reaches a certain temperature (which would occur if it was not properly preserved) the histadine transforms into histamine which is what causes the allergic reaction. And once the histamine forms, it remains, even if the fish is cooked properly.

Good stuff.

Any seafood or any kind of food poisoning stories to share?

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Comments 115

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  2. Jessica

    Earl! So sorry to hear about your poisoning. Were you at the hospital in Chaudi? I know it well! I was at two doctors in Palolem, one in Chaudi and one in the other direction, plus two in Margao all in one week. First, I had major knee issues, MRIs, etc, then the first day I could walk again after the right anti-inflammatory medicine, I got rammed by the cow right on the main Palolem road leading to the beach. I bet if you ask any of the ladies in the stands nearest the beach about the crazy, screaming white lady who got rammed by a cow 8 months ago, they would remember me. Ah, Palolem…I am sure I would have loved it, but man did bad things happen to me there. And that Coffee Day? The guy groped Dani while she went down to get me ice since I couldn’t walk for 8 days thanks to the cow. Crazy times 🙂

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Jessica – I was actually at the small government hospital in Palolem, about ten minutes walk from the main road…and it was quite good I must say. But damn, you sure had a crazy experience over in that beach. Seems like one thing after another and I wish I was still there so that I could ask those vendors about the crazy screaming white lady 🙂

      That does not sound like the peaceful relaxing Goa experience that is meant to be had!

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  4. Rashelle

    Oh my gosh Earl, that’s awful!!

    I can only imagine how terrible you must’ve felt!

    I hope you’re feeling much better now and back to your happy, cheery self. 😀


    1. Wandering Earl

      Thanks Rash…I’m about 90% back to normal now but I feel great finally. Should be all better by the end of the weekend I hope!

  5. Dora

    The best – umm worst – food poisoning happened when my husband and I were traveling by van in Inuvik, Northwest Territories, Canada. We decided it was our one good chance to try musk ox burgers. We had been mostly vegetarians for months. I chickened out after one bite, but my husband ended up eating everything and spent the next three days on a bathroom floor at the nearest campground – not pretty, but at least in the arctic they use all that geo thermal heat the floors of the restroom. Beware of big shaggy animals. Hope you feel better soon.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Dora – That couldn’t have been a nice experience at all for your husband, or for you I guess. Good thing you stopped eating it quickly 🙂

  6. Shalu Sharma

    I hope you get better soon. Its no fun when you are not well. That is why I always say to people that when travelling one should become a vegetarian. You never know what you are eating. At least when at home, you know what you are buying hence chances of food poisoning is reduced. Wish you all the best in your recovery.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Shalu – I eat mostly vegetarian but sometimes I do need a little chicken or fish in my diet. And unfortunately, many people get sick here in India from eating the veg curries, especially when the vegetables aren’t properly washed 🙂 But for actual food poisoning, yes, going fully veg would definitely make a difference…maybe I will return to it one day 🙂

      1. Shelley

        My friend Joseph got food poisoning drinking a small amount of water at a Hindu temple in Hampi. He is a vegetarian. LOL
        I avoided meat 90% of the time while traveling in India, and managed to stave off sickness. Though I did get quite sick when I moved to Hyderabad. Not sure what it was, but I was having hallucinations and had a high fever.
        Once my body got used to India I rarely got sick again, other than the occasional “loose motions” that all Indians tend to get from cooking with the water, or mild food poisoning.

  7. Richard Crest

    That was one disadvantage when traveling and unfortunately to eat in a restaurant like that. Thanks for sharing that place, travelers should avoid to eat there. Glad your doing good now!

  8. Colleen

    Please update us soon as you feel better! = ) I bet I’m not the only reader rechecking your site hoping you’re feeling better. = )

    Interestingly, in 6 months of travel in India, the only time I ever got sick was from something I ate in Palolem. That said, in 10 days there my other 3 family members stayed perfectly healthy as we all did otherwise in 24 combined months of travel. (4 people times 6 months.)

    Hope you’re already completely recovered. = )

    1. Wandering Earl

      Thanks Colleen and I am just about fully recovered now…still a few more days to go I’m sure but I’m getting there! And that is funny that you got sick in Palolem as well…hopefully it wasn’t too bad of an experience although, if you’re going to get sick, Palolem is not a bad destination to get sick in 🙂

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