Health | Food

Woman's Convenience Store Snack Landed Her In Hospital With Paralysis

For anyone who says that having a craving is "all in your head," clearly they haven't had one before. Food cravings can be so strong that many of us are willing to go to great lengths to satisfy them.

We've all done a late-night run to the convenience store for some chips and ice cream to curb, but for 33-year-old Lavinia Kelly, her craving put her in the hospital with serious complications.

The mother of three was on her way home from work when she developed a sudden craving for a salty snack. As the feeling intensified, she stopped at a gas station and picked up a bag of Doritos chips and some nacho cheese.

The unsuspecting California resident snacked on the chips drizzled with cheese, but just a few hours after her last bite, she began to feel uneasy. The following morning Lavinia started vomiting, experiencing double vision and had difficulty breathing.

Lavinia's partner, Ricky Torres, knew her condition was serious and drove her the hospital. She was initially sent home but after she became violently ill, she was eventually admitted to the intensive care unit.

“We’re just trying to figure out what happened,” Torres told the Sacramento Bee. “Now I spend most of time at the hospital, I’m just trying to get answers...She’s been doing good, and we just don’t understand why this happened over a bag of chips and nacho cheese. Really? How does that happen?”

Click on the next page to find out why Lavinia's snack landed her in the hospital with paralysis.

Besides Lavania, nine other people visited the hospital after eating food purchased from Valley Oak Food & Fuel, the same gas station Lavania pulled into for a snack.

After some testing, doctor's discovered that the illness was due to botulism. Improper food handling or preparation is one of the main causes of botulism and although it isn't as common as other food-borne illnesses like Salmonella, it can be fatal.

The symptoms usually occur within 12-36 hours after consuming contaminated food and progresses quickly.

In Lavinia's case, the poisoning left her paralyzed. She spent three weeks in hospital care and is still struggling to recover from her illness. Paralysis caused by botulism can last for weeks or months and patients may require long-term therapy to help them recover according to the Center For Disease Control (CDC).

The gas station's license to sell food has been revoked by state officials and an investigation is underway. Although Lavinia is expected to make a full recovery, her family has filed a lawsuit against the station for endangering the life of their loved one.

"Only human mistakes create the environment for botulinum toxin to form,” the family’s attorney, Bruce Clark, said to the Sacramento Bee. "We will use the lawsuit to learn more about the source of the food product that was contaminated. The source of the food product may be unrelated to the gas station; it could be a commercially made, pre-packaged item."

Even with medical insurance, the bills are still adding up so the family set up a GoFundMe to help with Lavinia's recovery expenses. If you'd like to help, you can visit the page here.