A sour cheese stench fills the bathroom. I can’t be sick again. I try to catch my breath but nausea catches me first, sweeping upwards through my torso. Deeper, deeper, quicker, quicker I breathe, trying to find fresh air. It’s not working. Lights start to flash. A furnace rises rapidly into my head, my brain. I’m dying.
I grapple at the door. It’s locked. I scratch and scrape at the door. It gives way. I fall into freedom. Darkness.
My eyes try to open. Dapples of sunlight force them to close. The memory floods back. My screams for help are rasps. She comes. At last she comes. My head is bleeding. I don’t know why. She reaches down to me. I can’t reach back.
‘I can’t move my hands, I’m dying, I can’t move my hands,' Panic is erupting again. He’s here now picking me up, bundling me into the car in my hysteric state. I recognise everything, everyone. But places and people have no names anymore.
The journey is a blur. I stumble into the doctor’s surgery and catch sight of my reflection. I’m calm enough now to feel humiliation. My hair is lank and vomit flecked, unwashed since the salmonella hit. Skin, greasy pale, with sallow grey marks like a heroine abuser’s. My hands are frozen still, not listening to what I want them to do. I pray to be out of their sight. Their staring faces sit in rows, spying eyes peering over magazines.
‘Just a panic attack,' the doctor checks me over. ‘Nothing to worry about.'
‘But I can’t move my hands.' Is the doctor blind? Can he not see I nearly died?
‘Just some tetany. It will go. You hyperventilated and the oxygen and carbon dioxide couldn’t get to your brain.’
They look satisfied. We go home. I start to move my fingers and my memory slowly returns.
The horrifying experience not to be repeated for another ten years.