It’s been nearly one month since I infected myself with hookworm! And speaking of infection, I have a shiny new one to report on which caused me to have minor surgery in the emergency department yesterday. I’m fine. I just have a skin abscess (that is roughly the size of a golf ball) due to taking immunosuppressant drugs. It’s pretty gross. Much grosser than parasitic worms that feed on my blood. It’s also very painful. They even gave me Vicodin for it which really knocks me out. I’d much rather have something like this than chronic itching, however. And said chronic itching is back in full force since I stopped the steroids in order to heal this wound.
Plus, I’m now on antibiotics. I’m a bit worried about my worms. There are some antibiotics, like amoxicillin and clindamycin, that will most certainly eliminate helminths. I’m taking Bactrim which is not listed as a known antihelminthic (worm killer). It is possible that even short courses of antibiotics could cause a return of symptoms in some people. I’m not at that stage yet but I worry that my worms will be affected by this.
I want to reiterate that this skin infection has nothing to do with the worms. It’s caused by prednisone which has far more dangerous side effects and is also approved by the FDA. Oh, and it’s much more socially acceptable to take prednisone than it is to take worms. And by socially, I mean foolishly. I say all of this and still use prednisone. Until the worms start to work, prednisone is a necessary evil.
The purpose of this post is not to complain about stuff. I came to tell you about a parasite I had back in 2006. Cryptosporidium!
Cryptosporidium is a nasty little parasite. From the CDC website:
Cryptosporidium is a microscopic parasite that causes the diarrheal disease cryptosporidiosis. Both the parasite and the disease are commonly known as “Crypto.”
There are many species of Cryptosporidium that infect humans and animals. The parasite is protected by an outer shell that allows it to survive outside the body for long periods of time and makes it very tolerant to chlorine disinfection.
While this parasite can be spread in several different ways, water (drinking water and recreational water) is the most common method of transmission. Cryptosporidium is one of the most frequent causes of waterborne disease among humans in the United States.
Where I contracted crypto was one of two possible scenarios: tubing in Lake Erie or helping family members clean up after a flood. No one else in my family (or anyone I know) was graced with crypto. Just me! I was sick for over 3 weeks. At that time, I had stool cultures done through the laboratory I worked in. The health department called about my diagnosis. It was pretty funny answering the phone there and talking about myself. And then they called my personal phone and were very confused as to why they were talking to the same person who took the call at the laboratory.
Crypto really does cause geysers. Geysers for days. And days. And days!
The weirdest thing about crypto was that it cycled or came in waves. I’d be miserable for 4 days and then I’d have a break for 1.5 days. It tricks you into thinking you’re better and then it comes back in full force. When you hear someone say they lived in the bathroom, that really happens! I laid on the floor with a pillow and blanket and truly made myself at home.
My point in telling the crypto tale is that the past experience with a parasite and this new experience with parasites are worlds away. Cryptosporidium was contracted “in the wild”. My human hookworm infection is controlled. I don’t even notice the worms are there. In fact, had I not intentionally infected myself I wouldn’t know they were in my gut at all.
Thanks for reading! I’m going to try and update more than once per week in the future.