I now know a new word. Scombroid: of or relating to a class of fish that includes the mackerel and tuna.
OK, fine you might say. Why a tuna?
Next bit of info. According to the US Food and Drug Administration crowd:
"Scombroid poisoning is a type of food intoxication caused by the consumption of scombroid and scombroid-like marine fish species that have begun to spoil with the growth of particular types of food bacteria. Fish most commonly involved are members of the Scombridae family (tunas and mackerels), and a few non-scombroid relatives (bluefish, dolphin or mahi-mahi, and amberjacks). ... The suspect toxin is an elevated level of histamine generated by bacterial degradation of substances in the muscle protein. This natural spoilage process is thought to release additional by-products which potentiate the toxic effect. The potential toxins are not destroyed by freezing, cooking, smoking, curing or canning."
So, last night, after my tenderly prepared meal of seared tuna served with lightly fried mushrooms and eschallots and a rocket salad, while we were watching Days of Heaven (ah, fields of wheat!), I suddenly experienced the most almightly hot flush you'd ever want to name. In the mirror, I looked as though I'd stood too close to a tanning lamp. My arms were also red. And I felt pretty ordinary in the lower regions.
It's a strange word, scomber, first given by Linnaeus in 1758 and coming from the Greek, skombros, meaning tunny or mackerel, unsurprisingly. I must say I felt scombrous, which is not to say fishy, but sick in a scummy kinda way and stalked by something alien that I didn't want grabbing hold of my air passages (I was worrying if I could breath but I think it was worry gripping the old air passages).
What did I do apart from freak out quietly (so as not to worry patient who did not experience the same)? We found some antihistamine tablets which I popped and also I skulled about 12mls of Benadryl which also has antihistamine in it. I kid you not, Benadryl was one of the antidotes for scombroid poisoning according to info I found on the net. Because, of course, that's where I headed. The world's instant diagnosis machine. Which is when I calmed down a bit. No, I was not going into anaphylactic shock. In fact, my symptoms included:
- flushing (reddening of the face and sometimes the neck, arms, and upper part of the trunk)
- severe headache
- palpitations (rapid heartbeat)
- stomach cramps and/or diarrhea
It lasts for between 4-12 hours, which sounds about right. I slept finally, dragged into slumber by drugs. I woke sluggishly, scombrously you could say, but had to find my way out of the house. First day back at work after nursemaiding in a state I didn't need. I've had massive allergic reactions before but this was a new one. I'm eating Salada crackers at the moment and drinking water.