‘I couldn’t move my body’: Woman paralyzed for months after eating pesto from farmer’s market

doralice goes
Credits: doralice.goes/Instagram

A 47-year-old Brazilian woman, Doralice Carneiro Sobreira Goes, found herself hospitalized with paralysis for more than a year after consuming expired pesto that she bought from a local farmer’s market in December 2021. Interestingly, she did not eat the pesto until the following month, in January 2022.

Reflecting on her battle with botulism, which left her temporarily paralyzed, People reports, Goes told Jam Press, “I couldn’t move my body.”

‘The pesto did not have an expiration date’

While purchasing the pesto, Goes noticed that the jar lacked several essential labeling details. “The pesto didn’t have an expiration date, he didn’t give me storage instructions either but I was a frequent customer,” she recalled, as per The Independent.

She further explained that she bought the condiment to mix with sauces for use on toast and in salads. When the public servant and gymnast eventually used the sauce, it did not raise any alarms, and it appeared to have the same color and aroma as when she initially purchased it. “When I decided to finally have some, it was delicious,” she recounted. 

‘My body did not feel right’

The next day, Goes recalled sleeping for “11 hours straight,” before driving 20km to the hospital. “My body didn’t feel right, my breathing had gotten worse, and my tongue felt like it was tingling,” said Goes. Noticing that something was wrong, she drove herself to the hospital and parked her car. However, this is when disaster struck for the Brazilian. “My body stopped working,” she recalled. “I couldn’t move my body so I threw myself out of the car,” she said, adding, “It was then I saw an employee with a wheelchair, so I shouted, to which they then came over and helped me into it.” 

While Goes was admitted for a CT scan, she continued to vomit and struggled to breathe. She also realized that her body was unable to respond to commands and was only able to move two toes. She was later diagnosed with botulism, and the homemade pesto was labeled as the source of the infection, as per the doctors. According to the Mayo Clinic, botulism is a “rare but serious” condition caused by a toxin produced by Clostridium botulinum. It is important to note that canned food is frequently considered as the source of the infection.

Goes recovered after over 10 months

Goes was finally discharged after 10 months and 10 days and has been doing well since then. Recalling her journey to recovery, she said, “I was…given dry compressions and electroshocks to relieve chronic pain. When I got more strength in my upper body, I also adapted [to] playing table tennis.” She further said, “I have been breathing without help for nine months, which is a good sign,” adding, “I can now urinate by myself and feed myself.” Goes continued, “I have the help of a walker to help me get around, but it is still hard.”