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How Salmonella Can Completely Ruin Your Preakness Weekend

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Preakness weekend — a time of horses, betting, port-a-potties, and plastic beer mugs — is here. I can only reflect on the time I missed out on last year because I was in Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, not at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland as I’d initially planned to be. I was instead sitting in a hospital bed next to an old man who was releasing farts that must have been stored in his body for 30 years instead of getting full cans of beer pelted at me. Tragic.

There’s about to be a lot of talk about feces, so if you are squeamish, keep reading and hopefully you’ll puke.

***

It all started the day before I was supposed to drive down to Baltimore for Preakness weekend. While at work I was feeling extremely tired, dehydrated, and dizzy. Which I just blamed on not drinking enough water and went on with my day. But later that night while on the couch I got hit right in the colon with that all too familiar feeling. It was a poop attack.

I rushed to the bathroom and took the Browns to the Super Bowl, only to be running back again 30 minutes later, which I chalked over to the leftovers. Happens to all of us. But only an hour later I was running back and this time it was straight up diarrhea. We’re only in the first part of the story and I have already talked about poop more than I ever anticipated I would talk about poop in one sitting. Ha. That night I woke up four times to use the bathroom. Yikes.

However, the next morning I woke up feeling much better but was still using the bathroom and it was like a faucet. Man let me tell ya I was peeing out of my hind quarters. Gross. Yet I was determined to get to Baltimore. So while profusely sweating and doing absolutely nothing and drinking water like I had just walked through the desert for days without it. I made the conscious and wise decision to still take the trip to Baltimore for the Preakness. In hindsight, this was a terrible idea.

So there we were on the way to Baltimore. I was packed into the back seat like a sardine and handling tunes and navigation which seems like bullshit to me as I should have sat shotgun, but I digress. I made it two hours into the trip feeling good, besides having cold chills the entire drive. I felt like a soft crumbly dollar bill, but that’s better than zero dollars so I powered through.

Feeling good and then we decided to stop at a rest stop to stretch our legs. Still feeling good. There was a bit of traffic heading into the rest stop and it hit me. I became frantic and was screaming at the driver to get me to the rest stop or else there would be a mess to clean up. Foul. We finally parked and I clench walked to the bathroom like my life depended on it, which it did.

That was too close of a call. When we finally made it to the hotel I felt like shit, dehydrated despite chugging waters the whole ride and just drained of energy despite sitting and only running when I had to get to the bathroom. Check in was taking too long so I had to find the lobby bathroom and drop the kids off at the pool. Yuck. As we all settled in, I took my bed and frequented the bathroom. Still chugging waters and peeing them out the unconventional way.

My friends decided that during the night they would go to the Orioles game, while this sounded fun I knew how it would end for me. Probably having to poop the whole Uber ride there and running to the bathroom every inning. Not the most desirable night so I made the third best decision all trip and decided to hang back at the hotel, watch TV and get friendly with that toilet instead. All while still thinking that I would feel better the next day for the Preakness. How wrong I was, throughout the night I was still getting up every hour or two to poop or just sit on the toilet with crazy stomach pain.

Preakness day came around and while my friends all were showering I ran in and gave them a little company in case they were alone, which they could have done without. My one friend described my company as if someone were dumping one bucket of water into another bucket of water. Fucking horrid. As the first wave of troops left for the event a couple of my buddies so nicely hung back to drive me to the nearest pharmacy for some good old Imodium and Pedialyte, which I thought was the answer to my prayers.

After taking the Imodium tablets and chugging Pedialyte I thought I would feel like a million bucks. But whatever I had was still kicking the shit out of me. Both literally and figuratively. After much contemplation and deciding that going to get wasted at a racetrack, where people run on top of the porta potties, was a recipe for disaster. I made the second best decision of the weekend: to not go to The Preakness Stakes and just wait to head home the next day.

I gave my friend money to bet with and said my farewells, wishing good fortune. There was good fortune: My friend’s dad had a horse in a race, which won, and all my friends got to go into the winner circle on national TV at one of the biggest horse races in the United States, while I was calling the front desk for more toilet paper.

As I sat and watched Seinfeld re-runs, constantly running to the bathroom with the runs, I thought that maybe I should eat. I hadn’t eaten anything all weekend because I couldn’t stomach any of it. So my idea was to get pizza with garlic dipping sauce. What’s the worst that could happen, I get diarrhea? Too little, too late. So I ordered that shit, ha, and was patiently waiting.

When it showed I cautiously ate the pizza slowly with just a little of that delicious nectar called garlic sauce until I was sick of the dainty way of eating and just dove in. While this pizza was absolute garbage, it filled its niche. Thinking there would be a change of pace to stool more solid rather than liquid. I was, as I was all weekend, wrong.

After constant bathroom trips and my stomach twisting itself inside out I came to the realization something was wrong. I made the best decision all weekend and decided to go to the hospital. When the ambulance showed up I told them about my problem and they somewhat sarcastically asked if I wanted to go to the hospital. Fuck yes I do now get me in the back of that bitch and put the pedal to the metal.

While waiting to leave they were taking my vitals and what was perfect timing my friends pulled into the hotel lot, all shitfaced. My one friend basically forced himself into the back of the ambulance to see if I was okay while the others asked if I was okay from the outside of the ambulance like normal people. Then we were on our way. To my knowledge, if you got to the hospital in an ambulance you didn’t have to sit in the waiting room. Wrong again, I think me being wrong was the second most constant thing about that weekend.

Once checked into the hospital, I sat in the waiting room connected to an IV and making the waiting room bathroom my second home. So you can imagine how bad I was scrambling when the nurse called my name while I was mid wipe and rushing to get there before she calls the next name. Once in my ER room and hooked up to the machines, my stomach dropped and the bell was tolling once again. But the nurse button/controller was across the room.

I was hooked up to the bed and my curtain was closed. It was life or death. I couldn’t reach the remote to call the nurse and every time I saw feet walk by I was yelling for help. I felt like I was trying to diffuse a bomb before it exploded and there was 10 seconds till it detonated. A bead of sweat dripped from my brow and I was screaming for the closest nurse. Finally my knight in shining armor opened the curtain and freed me of my chains. I wiggled my way to the bathroom, IV in tow and just barely made it. Too close for comfort. Woof.

I finally got moved to my own room until I was paired with the old man who was leaking more mustard gas than Saddam Hussein and setting off every machine he possibly could. His IV popped out three times per night and just continuously beeped. After spending a night there the doctor came in and told me I had colitis, then so nicely asked in front of my parents if I stick things in my butt which I felt was none of her business. I told my friends the news and they so eloquently made their next trivia team name “Colitis All Nightis.”

But it gets even better, as I had to provide stool samples to get a proper diagnosis, which is hilarious to me. When the deed was done I rang my nurse station bell and was practically shaking from trying to hold my laughter when I told the nurse I pooped in a bucket for her. There had to be a second collection so I kindly left my stool in the bucket for the next nurse, old older woman, who came in and saw me grinning like an idiot only to say “Did you leave me a gift in there sweetie?”

I almost fell out of my bed from laughter. After a day or two of getting my blood taken, constant needles in my arms, and of course still having the shits, I found out I actually had salmonella. That news triggered a new trivia name in my head: “Thrilla in Salmonilla.” This salmonella diagnosis means I was going to be in the hospital at least two more days for antibiotics and poops, all while not being able to eat anything more than chicken broth and ice chips. Woohoo!

My poops eventually slowed down but the man next to me showed no signs of holding back his mustard gas. He unleashed an unholy poop that the poor nurse had to clean. People, please appreciates your nurses. This poop must have been from the 1989 Thanksgiving stuffing because it was awful. The worst thing I have ever smelled in my entire life. Fuck sake. I finally got sent home and only pooped once on the way home. I was proud of myself. The road to recovery starts now, I thought, and it won’t be an easy one. But I will rise back to the top, well mid-low level I guess. It’s a blurry line, lots of technicalities.

***

After $6,000 out of pocket in medical bills and losing 20 pounds in three days, I have concluded that the salmonella diet is the best diet on planet Earth. I highly recommend it, only for the strong.

Image via Shutterstock

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Grill Master Flex

Just your run of the mill go to barbecue guy

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