CAUTION: This post contains graphic depictions of bowel-related occurrences. DO NOT READ if you have a weak stomach (I'm looking at you, Kim.)
Nothing like a nasty stomach flu whipping through a family of 6 like a tornado to turn this 10-second rule kind of chick into a bonafide germ-o-phobe. It all started Christmas Eve when I checked to see if my kids were settled in for their long winter's nap and I smelled...something. Specifically, hot dogs. My kid's closet sometimes inexplicably smells like old pizza, but hot dog could only mean one thing. I had to find the source, aka, which kid threw up their dinner. It was Linus, my 5 year old, who was soundly sleeping in a pool of his own stomach juices.Â And so it started...the baths, the washing of bed linens and airing out of mattresses which wound up continuing for over a week as nearly every family member succumbed to the strangest stomach bug I have ever encountered. Most bugs finish up quickly, or at least, stay consistent. This one not only lingered, but the afflicted would seem to be recovering nicely then BOOM, another round would start up again.
So needless to say our holiday was not so jolly. We quarantined ourselves away from society. Away from visiting family who I desperately longed to spend time with. My parents dropped off gifts from the gatherings we opted not to attend. Friends took pity on us and dropped off food and drink and even a Snuggie. And we what we could to keep it going even as things descended into "Lord of the Flies Madness", asÂ Hugh described it. We had to tag-team and tried not to figure out who was sicker, the one who vomited every hour and a half or the one who had diarrhea all night.
Meanwhile, a mere half-mile away my extended family was supping together...on Mom's Turkey Tetrazzini with portobello mushrooms, on slow-cooked chicken with gravy spooned over rice...even as my stomach lurched it also growled. I was hungry. The Wal-greens brand twin pops and blue Gatorade were just not cutting it. I had stopped throwing up and thought that maybe some home-cooking was just what the doctor ordered to help conquer the residual weakness. I begged for the leftovers, and my father and sister-in-law graciously risked life and limb by walking them right into the door of my plague-ridden home.
But the puniness continued...and a couple of the kids had some relapses in the realm of wellness. One friend of mine suggested perhaps we had been exposed to some sort of parasite. I acted dismissive because, after all, this stomach bug was raging all over the country! My mother-in-law had it in Georgia, it was passing from person to person at church. But the hypochondriac in me felt a little lurch in her gut. As a matter of fact, parasites were not unknown to our family. Nothing exotic, or dangerous, just the annoying kind caused by kids who like to play in the dirt and not wash their hands. DisgustingÂ and itchy, but nothing that could cause the epic vomiting and diarrhea that my family was experiencing.
But once the idea took hold I couldn't stop thinking of it. I was already seeing germs magnified on every surface of my home. I couldn't stop Lysoling everything (except when I was sleeping, which was most of the time.) I tried to borrow a steam cleaner from someone who, as it turned out, doesn't even own one.Â And now I was convinced that my bowels were teeming with a veritable cornucopia of slimy lively critters who were taking great pleasure in the plague they had inflicted on my family. Time to take matters into my own hands.
If I have learned anything in my years of reading up on natural medicine, it's that garlic is one bad-shut-yo-mouth. It kills bacteria, fungus, viruses, parasites, vampires, can leap tall buildings in a single bound, blah blah blah. It's cheaper than the dirt it grows in, and it's tasty to boot. Of course, when you are eating it raw medicinally it's not nearly as yummy as sauteing it in olive oil and serving it over pasta, but it's no worse than say, Robitussin. One night I got the bright idea of eating a bunch of plain yogurt and then swallowing as many cut-up cloves of garlic as I could. I capped out at one. Garlic is rather hard on the stomach, especially when you've spent the last few days tossing your cookies.
I couldn't get past the idea that garlic-bombing my intestines would be the way to go. I dug around in my cabinets and found a half a bottle of odorless garlic capsules. SCORE! I quickly swallowed about 15 of them and waited to see what would happen. Parasites or just the creeping crud, whatever was plaguing me was ABOUT TO DIE.
It didn't take too terribly long, maybe a few hours, before I felt some...urgency. I tried to pay attention to what was leaving my body when something landed on the tissue. Something large. Something tan. Something that had never come out of me before. I squeezed it. It felt rubbery. And suddenly...so did I. I felt the blood drain from my face and my limbs started to tingle. This thing was about the size of a baby-cut carrot, half-moon shaped, dense, and it's underside had texture that resembled the undulating belly of a sea creature skimming along the ocean floor. "Ohgodohgodohgod..." I whispered, bracing myself at the sink.
This was far, far worse than anything I had ever anticipated. This thing was HUGE and INCREDIBLY disturbing. I called out to my husband, who, unlike me, does not have any sort of morbid attraction to gross medical findings. I hated to do this to him but I needed a second opinion. He agreed that it was certainly strange, and proceeded to poke it with a toothpick, which nearly sent me into a vortex of terror. "Do you SEE THAT? There is NO GIVE! Go...Google human parasites and find out what this thing IS!"
While Hugh left to appease his freakish wife I picked up the toothpick, and gave it another poke. I felt the flesh spring back. I got braver, and poked harder, hard enough to split the skin. I took another toothpick and proceeded to open it up, my own little parasite autopsy. And then, I realized what I was up against. There could be no denying it. I no longer needed Hugh to Google, because it was plainly obvious. This was no ordinary parasite.
This was, in fact, a slice of Portobello mushroom.