Crabby Hives

Four days ago in the wee hours of the morning I felt a terrible itch that permeated throughout my whole body: its the kind of itch that makes you want to crawl out of your skin. Half awake, half asleep I eventually dozed back into sleep while my legs felt increasingly uncomfortable against my bedsheets which overnight seemed to feel as if it were sandpaper. I thought to myself, when did I get a mosquito bite and why is it so £@! itchy! A few hours later, as I got ready for work I was faced with the truth. My whole body from the hands to my feet were covered in red swollen patches. For the first time in life I had gotten hives.

I went to the doctor, got medicine and went about my life. The itchiness subsided for awhile but the following night I felt as if suddenly my body was like the Serengeti being flooded and blossoming with red flowery patches. Some were round, others heart-shaped whilst some looked as if it was an army growing and attempting to take over everything else. I woke up, fainted, and fainted again to the horror of my husband. I could have hit my head and died. Life is so fragile. That little pill was strong, too strong and dangerous yet the red army marched on. It wasn’t till a change in medicine did things get better. I am forever grateful to my doctor specialist friend for recommending me the change to a second generation drug.

Now what caused this terrible reaction? I suspect it was the fried rice I had eaten the evening before the breakout because Alex too had diarrhea after having a spoonful of the rice. Not having brought my own food that evening, I had gone down to the local shop that sells foods in the evenings to hungry office workers. It’s a shop that has been around for as long as I can remember. It was the only food outside of the norm and the fried rice had contained crab. Now I usually eat crab, so we ruled that out as the culprit. We suspect though that the crab must have been preserved with the highly toxic formalin and that is what I must have been exposed to. It’s not uncommon to hear cases of this happening locally. I was the “unlucky” one who had hit the jackpot.

Now my question to you is this. Should we allow this to recur again and again to unsuspecting consumers? Should we be conditioned as consumers to just brush it off to the shop owner who didn’t know better? When I asked the shop if they had had any other cases because I had gotten terribly ill, the guy at the shop said I should perhaps try the food again as if a test. If I could, I would have given the guy a punch to the face. I wonder what would have been his reaction, if someone he loved was inadvertently poisoned. I would not have been angry if his reaction was that he would check where they sourced their foods and try to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

The sweet and polite nature of the Thai people and adversity to confrontation allows this to sort of thing to happen again and again. Because it is difficult to take legal action, most consumers tend to just change their own behaviour and avoid risky encounters. Others are unwilling to be “inconvenienced.” Showing anger is suddenly seen as aggression. That is not something I think we as consumers should have to accept as a way of life. Personally, I believe we must take a stand to ensure this doesn’t happen to others. What do you think? What should I do?

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