E.Coli almost killed me

And I didn’t blame agriculture!

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I have one degree in agricultural education. I am pursuing a second degree in agriculture with an emphasis in education. And I almost died from a food borne illness.

Here is my story:

Since my undergrad was in Agricultural Education, a semester was spent student teaching, and so began my many days at stock shows, validations, a classroom, and in the truck. I have always been a decently healthy eater. I will eat my greens, cook my meat all the way through, and I will not eat something if it just doesn’t taste right, but…


One week before I was hit with the sickness, I was at the State Fair of Texas in Dallas. We had spent the two weeks with 8 steers, and then a large amount of heifers and two cow/calf pairs. It was a solid two weeks of work, but extremely beneficial watching my students succeed in the show ring. Now at the fair, the eating situation is a little different. We are usually scarfing down fair food while sitting right beside our animals in the barns. It isn’t the most sanitary but for any show man or agriculturalists, alike, it really doesn’t bother us too bad. They have to eat. We have to eat. Just how the world goes round.

The before day E. Coli hit (Thursday), I had just finished up a day of teaching and my cooperating teacher and I were heading to the Heart of Texas Fair and Rodeo in Waco. The plan was to meet up with the students and parents already there, make sure everything was good and then head to the hotel for a good nights rest; to, then wake up early to get the Livestock Judging Team to contest. We got to supper around 9pm and I didn’t feel wonderful. I felt dehydrated and had that lack of sleep feeling, so I picked through my supper and I headed to my hotel room.

That morning (Friday), around 3, I woke up to the worst pain and sickness I have ever been through. I am not one to share gory details, but I will do anything to not puke, and I could not control myself. I was bed-ridden all day. I couldn’t keep soup, bread, crackers, peptobismal or even water down. I could barely lift my head, let alone open my eyes to watch T.V. I was getting nervous, but I knew there had been a stomach virus going around the school so I figured I was hit with the 24-hour bug.

The day after (Saturday), I had to check out of the hotel. I managed to find the strength to get up, shower, and even do my hair and make-up. I went to the stock show grounds, and could barely walk, but I found my way to our cattle stalls and sat down. My cooperating teacher and his family decided that we needed to go eat something besides fair food. We headed to McAlisters and I ordered a small baked potato with nothing on it. I had two bites and knew I better not try anymore. On the way back to the grounds, I got another extremely sick feeling. I ended up spending the last 3 hours, at the Heart of Texas, in and out of the bathroom. The worst thing ever is getting sick in a stock show barn bathroom. On the way back home, I ended up getting in contact with one of the doctors at the hospital where I was living, and met him at the ER. He pumped me full of fluids and I drove myself home.

That next morning (Sunday), I woke up feeling decent. I was able to move a little more and even kept some water and toast down. I was pretty happy. But, come Monday morning, I had little to no strength. I barely got myself out of bed and into the living room. I laid on the couch the entire day. I had no strength to stand up, so in order to change a DVD, I crawled from the couch to the TV, which was less than 5 feet away. I texted my doctor and was told to come in on Tuesday.

Tuesday morning, (I do not know how) I found motivation to get up, get clothes on, and drive the 40 minutes to the doctor. The minute he saw me, he told me I was being put in the hospital. I was sent to the hospital, admitted, and immediately had fluids being pumped into me.

My heart rate was elevated, blood sugar low, oxygen stats low, and I was extremely dehydrated. I couldn’t help but think that this is way more serious than I ever thought it would be, and it scared me.

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The Selfie 

I was hospitalized on a Tuesday and did not leave until Friday. I am not a big person. I am 5’3″ and around 123 pounds, and I lost over 12 pounds.  I weighed around 109 pounds, and I was able to get full on half of a kid’s meal at any restaurant. None of my clothes fit me properly and I was still really weak.

This was something I had never experienced before and I never want to experience again.

 

I was told that, had I waited much longer to go to the doctor, I would have died.


And yet…

Going through all of that, I never once thought about blaming agriculture or the food system or the stock show industry. I had somehow ingested the E.Coli bacteria, no telling how; possibilities could have been that the food I ate was undercooked or maybe because I had been dealing with a sick calf at the show; never-the-less, the fact of the matter was, I became sick {maybe} in the exact industry I love.

But… I didn’t write this to scare anyone, or to make them hate agriculture even more. NO. I wrote it to show that illness’ are not biased. They do not care who you are or where you come from. One thing I did take away from getting this sick is I take it upon myself to be even more food safe savvy. I wash ALL produce, I make sure to use a meat thermometer when I cook, and I wash my hands even more religiously. I am pro-active in my own food safety but I still trust the industry!

I believe that every farmer, rancher, feedlot manager, USDA inspector, and researcher are out their for OUR (as in the public) bests interest because these people feed their families the same thing that they are promoting is safe. They are experts in the field, so why wouldn’t you trust them…?

If you are sick, you usually go to a doctor. An expert.

If your car breaks down, a mechanic is where you head. An expert.

If your phone breaks, you usually send it in to be fixed. You send it to an expert. 

So, then, why would you not trust the experts in the field of food production and food safety?

 People that I like to call “mommy bloggers” or companies like PETA always bash the agriculture industry and people believe every word that they say without even once thinking “Hm, I am not sure if that is true. Why don’t I call the local County Extension office or the Agriculture College at the University and see if I can get answers?” Those people do not have real informational research to back their claim and yet, what they say has GOT TO BE CORRECT. But when true experts try and discuss those items, everyone doesn’t believe or they freak out.

I am not sure about your personal stance on this topic, but I am pro-agriculture.

I am pro-agriculture even after being hit with E. Coli and almost dying. I chose to trust the experts in that industry, so why can’t you at least do correct research if you are a skeptic?

E. Coli almost killed me and I do not blame agriculture.

-Hope

 

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