The consequences of Listeria

In light of the current outbreak of Listeria from cantaloupe in Colorado, I thought I would do a quick reach out to the families dealing with this horrible and unavoidable bacteria. And I stress unavoidable.

When myself and my less-than-24-hour-old daughter were diagnosed with Listeria, I didn’t know a thing about it. I quickly learned how serious the bacteria is, and how lucky I was that my daughter survived. At first I blamed myself. Did I eat deli meat or unpasteurized cheese when pregnant? I didn’t think so. I stuck to the book and tried to keep my multiple pregnancy as healthy as possible. Come to find out it can be on practically ANYTHING. Did I eat cantaloupe when I was pregnant? Yes, I loved it. Did I eat celery (the likely culprit of my Listeria) when I was pregnant? Probably. Did my then perfect life and family deserve the consequences of this bacteria? Of course not.

All I can say is that I quickly–within days–stopped blaming myself for what happened. When the doctors told me it was a one in a million chance, my sense of guilt flew away. The thing is, Listeria can live on almost anything once contaminated. No matter how hard you try to avoid contamination when pregnant or otherwise, it’s just not possible unless all you do is eat cooked food. Meaning, no raw fruits or vegetables. And forget about going out to eat. I’ve worked in kitchens before and you have no idea what they are really doing to your meal.

So, don’t blame yourself. I don’t.

What are the consequences of Listeria? For my daughter, and son indirectly, it was that they were both born prematurely with typical preemie problems. Something I tried hard to avoid. For my daughter, she got bacterial meningitis and grade III bleeds in her left and right ventricles. She was on a ventilator and life support for more than a month and her overall stay in NICU was close to 3 months (one month past her due date). The known consequences to this day: My daughter has microcephaly, hydrocephalus, and brain damage. The unknown consequences to this day: My daughter’s future.

The unknown is the hardest part to cope with. No one–not even all the specialists that we see–can seem to forecast her future. What I do know is that I do not wish this on anyone. It’s been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with.

– – – – – – – – – – –

If you or someone you know would like to contact me for support, please don’t hesitate to email me. I would be more than happy to help families dealing with the consequences of Listeria.

Ellisa today

Ellisa today

6 Responses to “The consequences of Listeria”
  1. What a great picture of Ellisa! I am so glad that I am able to see your family more often these days; and this blog always helps me feel even closer to all of you. I love watching these guys as they grow up!

  2. Joseph says:

    What is also sad is that getting people to eat healthy with fresh fruits and veggies is already quite the battle. Outbreaks like this do not help. Do they suggest we now somehow only eat cooked or steamed veggies? It has really confused me as well.

    • pforpeanuts says:

      No, it’s not common enough to be proactive against getting Listeria. Eat as you normally would. Of course, if you are pregnant, you should stay away from deli meat and unpasteurized dairy products as those are the common culprits. That’s why this bacteria is such a nasty one. The symptoms aren’t much more than cold/flu symptoms and it’s relatively unavoidable.

  3. Sarah says:

    She melts me! I love her little spirit!

    • Karen says:

      Very nice of you to offer support, but one friendly correction- Listeria is a bacteria, not a virus. There’s a big difference when it comes to treatment and recovery.

      Good luck!

      • pforpeanuts says:

        I hate it when people confuse viruses with bacterias. And I of all people should know better since my daughter has had to deal with Listeria and the consequences of it since birth. So, why did I write virus more than once in this blog post vs bacteria? I have no idea. Corrections to this post have been made. Thank you Karen.

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