Carl Palmer Battles Back From E. coli Infection
Carl: I had E. coli and I had it really bad. It went into my lower abdomen. I got it from a casino in upstate New York. My immune system managed to tackle it at first. It was about ten days into the tour and everything seemed to go down in my stomach and I was fine.
When I got back, within two days, my intestinal area just blew up. I got into a specialist in the center of London and they said, "Wow, this is really bad." They drew a line on my stomach and told my wife that if the redness and swelling went above that line then she had to call this number. They had a quarantine room in a hospital ready for me to go into if that happened. E. coli is highly contagious as it is bacterial. It was eight weeks of absolute hell.
I got better and I got back on tour. I just got back from a sixteen day tour of Europe and in February I went to Japan. I feel fine now and I am on top of things. I have to say, those eight weeks I had to take these antibiotics that were the size of torpedoes. You would take one and just fall over; you couldn't stand up [laughter]. I managed to get through it, but it was hard. I don't want to get it again. It has changed my whole life. I have become a Vegan. I don't eat any dairy, cheese, milk, meat or whatever. I can't eat anything that's got a face. I just never want to be this ill again.
I can really see why old people die—I'm old too, but I am still strong. I don't know if I would be this strong a second time around. Nevertheless, I'm saying that, where I am today, with the new diet, my tastes have changed from having E. coli so severely. Fish and meat taste wrong to me. I don't know why that is. It is not a moral thing to me. I would have eaten all the cows you could send down the hallway to me. I just no longer like the taste; that's the problem.
I actually feel more energized now. Perhaps it is my diet. It could have all been a bit of luck. It could have been that God said to me, "Hey, you need to smarten up and change your diet." I have done just that. I have more energy after my European tour than I had when I left. It has to be the diet. I have one more checkup with the doctors. It will never completely leave my system, but I have to be super careful that I don't trigger this again. It's the closest I have ever been to death; I'll put it to you that way.
CRR: I knew you were sick but I didn't know just how badly you were down.
Carl: I cancelled a tour for the first time in my life. I went in to the doctor on a Wednesday and I said, "I don't feel so good. My English tour starts Saturday. Can you give me something to ease the pain because my lower half is killing me and I can't sleep at night?" He said, "Carl, there is less than a ten percent chance of you playing on Saturday." I said, "No, no, no…let's be serious. Lets sort it out; I only have seven concerts." He said, "You won't make one of them, buddy. You're in bed."
I felt terrible, like I had let myself down. I have an impeccable track record of never canceling concerts, so canceling a whole tour was just devastating. There was really nothing I could do. The first three weeks after that was absolute hell. Now, I am okay.
Read the full interview here