Have you been affected by Ciguatera Poisoning?: Yes, I have had ciguatera poisoning
How did you hear about us?: Search Engine
Tell us your story: While on my honeymoon in Antigua in November of 2010, I became very sick and had no idea why. We stayed at one of those all inclusive resorts where you essentially never leave. Every meal was prepared there at the resort. Being a seafood lover, I had some sort of fresh caught fish at every meal. Sometimes I had no idea what I was eating because I wasn’t farmiliar with that type of fish. By about the 4th day we were at the resort, I started to have gastrointestinal issues. I had diarreha and had a very upset stomach. Along with those symptoms I had this bizarre sensation that my insides were itching. It was like a itch you can’t scratch INSIDE my stomach. At this point this was all weird, but I guess didn’t think too much of if since I was on my honeymoon and overall I was very happy! But then something else happened….the palms of my hands and the pads of my feet became EXTREMELY itchy. Again, that sensation of that itch that can just not be scratched. I would tear into my palms sratching them and I would try to find anything I could (i.e. carpet) to rub my feet across vigorously. That sensation went on for about a week and a half. It was so bad at times I wanted to cry I was so frustrated. Along with the itchy palms and feet, I started to get really bad muscle aches in my arms and in my legs. We did a lot of physical activities like hiking, jet skiing, swimming, pilates, etc. so I thought my muscles may just be sore from all of the activities. We returned home about a week after the onset of the first gastrointestinal symptoms. I still had all the above symtoms I mentioned and the muscle pain was becoming MUCH worse. My poor husband was starting to become concerned and I felt like I was taking crazy pills! It was all so bizarre and the symptoms were so wide in range it was hard to believe that they were all related. So I went to an urgent care place and told them what was going on. They thought I may be having an allergic reaction so they but me on an antihistamine. After being on that for days, nothing was really getting better. At this point I was about 2 weeks out from when I was infected and the muscle pains would come on so hard and fast that they would debilitate me. There were times I remember just laying on the bed curled in a ball screaming and crying in pain becasue I felt like was was being beaten to death by a baseball bat. Needless to say my husband and I were becoming pretty terrified at this point. Around this time the itching in my feet and hands was starting to subside. One night I got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. I was barefoot. When my feet touched the cold tile it felt like I was stepping on hot lava. I will never forget that feeling. Then I went to wash my hands and when I ran them under the cold water, it felt like I just touched boiling water. I had to wear socks at all times so my bare feet never touched the floor and I had to use super hot water whenever I washed my hands or showered. Panic stricken, we went back to the same doctor. At this point after doing a little online research, I thought I might have Mercury poisioning. The doctor assured me that was not it but reffered me to a neurologist. Luckily when I went over all my symptoms with the neurologist, he was able to diagnose me right away with Ciguatera. The bad news was that there was no cure for the illness. It has to work it’s way out of your system in time. He treated my muscle pain with Vicodin and the sensation reversal in my hands and feet with Gambapenton (?), a nerve medication used to treat neuropathy. I also took a B12 vitamin to help regenerate healthy nerves. My neurologist said that in his 30 years of practice, he had only seen about 3 cases of Ciguatera. He told me that one of his partners who was originally from Puerto Rico, would never eat fish while visiting Puerto Rico because of his farmiliarity with Ciguatera. All in all, I think once diagnosed, my symptoms totally subsided in about 4-5 weeks. I think the worst part of my whole ordeal was not just the physical suffering, but the mental suffering of feeling like I was losing my mind until I was diagnosed. Another frustrating part to my story is that when we notified the resort of my condition, they emphatically denied that I could have contracted the Ciguatera from their resort. Even though I was at the resort for days before the symptoms started and NEVER left the resort and NEVER ate anywhere else, they denied that it could have come from one of their meals. My husband and I didn’t want anything from them, we just wanted to make them aware of it incase anyone else came down with the symptoms. We told them we were not holding them responsible because Ciguatera is fairly hard to test for or detect. Still, denial was their reaction. It was extremely disheartening to be called a liar. They claimed that my husband should have been sick to if I was. We pointed out to them that my husband does not eat seafood so that is why he would not have had a chance to come into contact with it. I was recently recounting my horrible ordeal to someone. That is what made me search Ciguatera again. I guess reading about it again is like my own personal therapy to remind myself I am not crazy and that other people out there are suffering like I did. So I thought I would share my story in support for all of those out there who have suffered a similar fate. The bottom line is YOUR NOT CRAZY and unfortunately not many people can truly understand what this illness is like unless you have had it or expecpt maybe a family member who watched you suffer. I wish there was a better way to detect it and stop it from happening to others. And by the way, I don’t eat most fish anymore!
Thanks so much for sharing your story..