Posted in Health Issues

Mussel Mess Up

A few nights ago I got in a bit of a tizzy. I don’t know if you’ve ever watched The Hairy Bikers… they make me laugh! When I said they remind me of the Angry Beavers, I thought Mum would say “the Angry WHO?” but she pointed at me as if in sudden realization, and said “YES! They do.”

Anyway, those Hairy Bikers were talking about how delicious certain shellfish are. Mum got a pack of cooked mussels, saying she would add them to a stir fry. We were curious, though we’ve had little or no experience of them.

She opened the mussels but held them back, saying she tried one and she didn’t like it. I tried one too, and said well it was OK… but it has a certain strong taste lurking behind the meat that I don’t like. I tried a few more off and on when I was walking past; only had about eight mussels over the next few hours. My cat Samson ate one, but refused any more. He’s not all that fond of fishy stuff…

I went back to my computers and was sitting thinking “hmm, my throat feels all tight, I bet it was those mussels.” I didn’t especially worry, but when I noticed my lips were tingling, I checked on the internet to see if there was a link between tingly lips and mussels…

It was my bad luck (I suppose) that the first two or three sites I hit on all said the same thing… more or less that if you ate mussels (something about paralytic neurotoxins which can cause respiratory failure) and then got tingly lips, you were in trouble.

Of course, what I was looking for was “maybe you’ve got a slight reaction,” but I wasn’t finding that, and I couldn’t distinguish any more between my feelings of panic (nausea, dizziness etc) and whatever the mussels might be doing!

I went downstairs and found myself thinking that I never thought those Hairy Bikers would be the agents of my untimely demise. I also noticed that even while you’re stumbling around worrying that you’re about to die, Samson will be throwing himself underfoot demanding that he be fed. You think “well, why not?” and dish up a plate of his favourite food.

“You LOOK all right,” said Mum.
“It’s just that those sites got me in a panic, talking about toxins.”
“Oh, well thanks for passing the panic on!”

But my lips still tingled and my throat still felt lumpish… not badly though. On its own it would never have been a worry.

As it was, I was all hyped up and couldn’t face going to bed (in case I croaked when not paying attention!) so I dug out the Wii Sports and played vigorous games… the tennis in particular was a brilliant distraction. Mum told me to drink lots of water, which should flush out any toxins that might be lurking. I only went to bed when I got tired.

But gah! I get so annoyed with myself… surely if I was having real problems, I would have known all about it without having to look up the internet. I was reading again about it later, and found some not-quite-so-brief pages that said yes, reactions to certain shellfish (and crustaceans) can vary from the very mild to the very severe. But I think even if reactions are very mild and unproved, it’s probably wiser to avoid the food in future. That won’t be difficult, as I didn’t really like them.

Next morning when I got up, Mum looked hard at me, and said “so you’re still alive?”
“Me too.”
“What about Samson?”
“He was complaining that his lips felt funny.”

Ha. Have to say, even if you have a panic like this over nothing, it makes life seem that much sweeter. 🙂



I live in the UK with two cats -- Samson and Delilah.

7 thoughts on “Mussel Mess Up

    1. I told Mum about what you said about good mussels smelling the same as bad ones, and she snorted with laughter. And I thought “I didn’t realize it was funny till now!”

      1. I’m guessing you like mussels. 🙂 We should probably have bought better ones from somewhere — I doubt if the supermarket variety was the best way to begin.

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