Striking stomach pain…
Feeling dizzy as if my world was turning upside down.
I was alarmed. “Oh my what is happening to me.”
I tried to be calm and tried my best to act as if everything was okay. I didn’t want to tell my girlfriend, Eloi, who was with me that time because I thought I could manage it. I also didn’t want her to worry.
I kept fighting that pain. I felt anytime soon I would vomit, but I still tried to be okay. We were in a blogging awards event. I didn’t want to make a scene and ruin the event.I was nominated as Best Travel Blogger. Yes, I was happy and grateful for the recognition. But at that time, I was willing to give it up, give up everything just to feel okay again. If only I could.
Oh my, the pain was killing me.
I stood up, told Eloi that I would just go to the CR (washroom), which I did. And then, when I was there, I vomited. I vomited at the toilet bowl inside the cubicle like I never vomited before in my entire life.
I felt my knees getting weaker like I was being drained of energy. After that I got out the cubicle, looked at myself in the mirror. I literally told myself, “Hey Jon, are you okay? what’s happening with you?” I don’t know maybe I was getting crazy. Then there’s the stomach pain again, went back inside the cube to throw up, again and again, until I have nothing.
Then the worse thing came, I hurriedly sat down on the toilet bowl and pooped. Sad life for me.
I went back to the event hoping that I would feel better. You always hear others saying that if you let it out, bacteria or infection. you’re going to feel better. But damn I was wrong, pain continued. I had to no choice but to tell Eloi what I was going through. She was very worried. She got even more worried when I told her that I have my Medicard with me just in case.
The event was just going on like normal. Little did they know there was a man at the audience who was in pain that felt like killing him little by little.
With my little energy left, I tried to stand up again and run towards the bathroom. I vomited again. I was so drained I felt I was about to pass out, when I saw Eloi running at the backstage looking for me. She ran towards the security to seek help. When I was finally assisted by the security personnel, and brought to a room, I saw some other participants and guests of the event looking pale and weak. Oh oh it turned out that I wasn’t the only one, there were a lot of us, like more than 20 people!
We were rushed to the hospital. It was the staff of the event’s venue who really took charge of bringing us to their clinic, then transported us to the nearest hospital.
The emergency room was jampacked, but all were assisted. I had my blood test done and they put dextrose on me. I was feeling sick and weak but Eloi was just right beside me. By the time the doctor talked to me, he advised that If I feel like throwing up or pooing, just go with it, since I was already at the hospital and being treated. Obviously, it was the food that we all ate at the event was the reason of everything. Good thing we were rushed to the hospital because it was only a matter of time when one of us might get dehydrated.
When I had a chance to talk to other patients, we all have the same suspect. It was the Kebab Persian barbeque that was served. It has a weird smell but we just ate it anyway because we all know the smell of Persian food. It kinda’ smell bad. We just failed to distinguish the natural smell of the food from the contaminated one.
Also, when I was already sick and vomiting, it was that scent, that Persian barbeque, that kept on lingering on my senses that really made me feel sick.
After hours of staying at the emergency room, the doctor advised us to be discharged. The woman representing the venue bought all the needed medicines before we were allowed to go. They also paid all our medical bills.
Honestly, I really commend the company that owns the venue of the event on how they handled the situation. How quick they were in acting and bringing us all to the hospital. It wasn’t there fault in the first place, but they owned the responsibility. Something that the organizers failed to do.
They didn’t even talk to me, nor to other patients when they went to the hospital. Unbelievable.
Apparently, the organizers personally know some of the victims of food poisoning, so they went there. But for us, they did not give a damn. Maybe they were ashamed of what happened. Maybe they were afraid to get scolded because some of the victims were really unhappy, but it was their responsibility. They should be man enough to talk to us and face the problem.
Lessons for Event Organizers
So I am writing this post to serve as a lesson to event organizers. And these are just some of it. Just the most important.
Choose a trusted catering service
In Tagalog, “huwag kukuha ng mura at puchu puchung catering.”
When we were at the hospital there was this one woman who was really pissed of what happened. She demanded to get the name and contact details of the event’s catering, and lo and behold, we were surprised to know that the catering service’s address is in Laguna! Yes so you have an event in Metro Manila and then the food will come from Laguna?! At that time, we all knew why the food was contaminated when served to the guests and participants.
In an unfortunate event like this, man up and own the responsibility.
The organizers were lucky to have a reliable venue. It was the venue who really took care of us, while the organizers were silent trying to shy away from the problem. Maybe they were in denial or what, but it was definitely disappointing.
Like I said, shit happens and people even the victims of the contaminated food will understand that you all didn’t what this to happen. But how are we going to understand if that time you were there at the hospital, you didn’t even dare to ask if we were okay?
To the organizers of the first BlogEx Manila Awards, this is something you have to keep in mind in case you to still plan to have another BlogEx Manila Awards next year, please get a trusted catering service and have the balls to face the responsibility in case shit like this happens.
But, I expect and hope that this will never happen again in case you still plan to have another event next year.