I had not taken my favourite fried chicken for almost 3 months. It is hard   sThe thoughts of having a drumstick with some thick soup for an occasional dipping pushed me so hard that last Thursday (28th February) I had to part with a whopping Kshs. 900 (considering the ailing economic times) in exchange for a hen; I brought home a live hen.

I took my sweet time in cooking and finally when the chicken arrived at the table, I marveled at my own culinary skills. I took a small share of the meal and kept the rest for the next day…and the next. I ate the chicken for 5 days. During that time, I would just warm it and take a small part, leaving the rest in the cooking pot. I am always shocked when I remember how stingy I had become!

On the 5th day, at around 8:00 pm I noticed that my chicken had a strange taste but, I wasn’t ready to throw it away. Thus, I added water in the cooking pot and simply boiled it. Though I didn’t take the soup, I enjoyed the last piece of the hen.

I was woken the next morning at around 5:00 am. I had a running stomach. My mind did not immediately relate the stomach problem with the chicken I had eaten. Since I had had stomach problems before, this issue seemed normal. I quickly warmed some water and added lemon juice, before drinking the contents in a few gulps. This trick always worked for me. When the problem persisted, I took another glass of lemon water…and, another.

I assumed.

It was on a Friday and I was free. I needed to clean the house. But before then, I wanted to wash a few of my clothes. By then, my body had become cold and even colder when I stood on the sun.

As soon as I touched the water, a cold chill rampaged my entire body. I started shaking uncontrollably. I took the stairs weakly and returned into the house. I fell on the bed. In a matter of minutes, I had become very sick.
My whole body was dripping of sweat. Worse still, I could not control my vomiting…it was just too much. Then, I blacked out.

When I came back to my senses, I found myself in a vehicle. I saw it take a turn into Nairobi Women’s hospital. I was bundled out of the vehicle and rushed inside by my neighbors.

The doctor was quick. He examined me and before he asked me the third question. I was off.

I was shocked to see faces bent on me as their eyes rushed back and forth….checking every inch of my body.
As I regained energy, the doctor gave me a cylindrical container and asked me to get him a sample of my stool. He had already taken some blood for testing in the laboratory. The results would be out at any time.

When I frogged back with the container, he looked at it twice and said quietly, “I need a sample of your stool please.” When I said that I had brought exactly, what came out, he looked at the container and looked at me. He was also shocked. The contents looked brown and watery….

I feared for my life.

When the results finally came, I was diagnosed with FOOD POISONING.

It was during his close examinations that I started seeing the grand mistake I had made in taking the chicken for 6 days after cooking it.

The doctor who has since remained my friend explained to me about food poisoning in detail.

“Food poisoning can kill a person in a matter of a few hours. You are lucky to have survived through it. Your blood had been intoxicated.”

Food poisoning is an illness that is caused by eating foods that have been contaminated; mostly during production or processing. However, when cooking or serving or handling foods, bacteria, viruses, and parasites can easily find their way into the food.

“Most cases of food poisoning don’t get recognized as people are likely to get well after diarrhea or vomiting, but in other extreme cases, it is paramount that one sees a doctor immediately.” The doctor explained further.

One of the mistakes that people do is buying food from a refrigerator in a supermarket or from a vendor and keeping it in the open for more than 2 hours. This is dangerous especially for flesh like chicken, fish, and mutton. Take for example beef, before you buy it, it must have stayed in the refrigerator for almost a day or two or even more…you buy it in town and stay in a jam for 4 hours before getting home. Even when you get home, you might take more hours before cooking it. Bacteria tend to grow faster in this kind of foods that have been removed from a refrigerator and have not been cooked for more than 2 hours.”

The symptoms of food poisoning include:
• Nausea
• Fever
• Watery
• Diarrhea
• vomiting
• abdominal pain

It is advisable to visit a doctor as soon as one notices any strange deviation from the normal functioning of the body.

Food poisoning can be avoided when proper attention is giving to food handling especially when cooking. It is also better to cook just enough for a particular time.

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