Food Poisoning With A Suppressed Immune System
Last updated: September 2023
Living with a suppressed immune system is hard. Especially as a student, going to university, taking public transport and eating out for lunch. You have to take extra precautions because your body isn’t able to fight infections like a normal person with a normal immune system.
I decided to go to a grilled chicken place for food after a long day of university and thought nothing of it. Half an hour later I started puking. An hour after that I started having frequent bowel movements, an hour after that I started puking and having bowel movements at the same time.
The stomach pain was awful, it felt like it was about to burst. It was like a burning sensation along with tightening of the stomach. Lastly, I started passing blood in my stool. That’s when I got worried. I was faint, weak, in extreme pain, my lips turned purple and I could barely stand up straight.
That’s when I took a trip to the accident and emergency department. The waiting time was around 3-4 hours but it felt like forever. I went to the toilet every 5 minutes during the wait and I could barely keep water down. My dad came along for emotional support.
Finally, I was seen. They took my blood pressure, heart rate and temperature. My temperature was high and my heart rate was extremely high, I ended up getting a bed straight away to be seen because the nurse was worried about the heart rate. However, they still took hours to take my bloods and figure out what was wrong with me.
After some tests it was found that I had some type of food poisoning and my stomach was bleeding from the inflammation, which was caused by the infection. I was given fluids and was told I had to stay in the hospital for a few days because I was on rituximab. I was given fluids everyday during my stay in hospital.
Immunosuppressants and infections
For over 48 hours, I was on a liquid only diet. It was awful, especially because I couldn’t take my daily dose of medication for my NMOSD symptoms, and we’re all aware that withdrawal from medication you’ve relied upon for years is difficult to deal with.
A few days later, I was dismissed from the hospital without any treatment. They said it would pass itself and to keep hydrated. It did pass, but it took a while. My stomach is still sensitive.
This was the first time I actually realised how quickly I could get severely ill with an immunosuppressant. I had never bled before, vomiting bugs in the past had never gotten to me as bad as this one did. I realised I’m not like other people and I have to take extra precautions when doing basic things like getting lunch or going out.
If you’re on immunosuppressants, please be careful with doing stuff like going out in large groups, travelling, eating out, anything. We catch things quickly and the impact of these infections on us is much more severe than to a normal person with a working immune system.
Typically, how much time passes between attacks for you?