Tag Archives: hookworm inoculation

Day 16. They’re moulting! MOULTING! (Or my little babies are growing up!)

Oh, hi there!

I’m happy to announce (happy is being used very loosely here) that over the weekend I broke down and had to go and basically beg for steroids to control the immune response I was having from my lovely little hookworm pets. As unpleasant as I was feeling, I take it as a good sign that maybe (just MAYBE!) this journey shall not be in vain! Sorry to sound all biblical and shit. I don’t really feel as if I’m moving mountains or paving the way or anything like that. There have been many far braver souls before me. (muahaha!) Okay, I’ll stop now.

The side effects I was feeling were completely normal and expected. No gastrointestinal issues really besides a mild gut ache — Just an epic skin flare-up (the kind where you scratch until you bleed), joint pain, and rather intense tingling and numbness in my hands.

So, if you’re following along I’ve been referring to the Hookworm timeline: What To Expect After Inoculation With  Hookworm Larvae — written by John Scott (who is a serious wealth of knowledge). I’m getting pretty close or damn near to the stages you are about to read below at week 3. I’m going to summarize what John wrote and edit the English a bit since he is from the UK and some of you people will just ask me too many damn questions or wonder why he spells diarrhea funny. (I kid! I love your questions!)

Week 3 to week 10

The hookworms moult and become adults after reaching the intestines, and attach to the intestinal wall towards the end of week 3. Their eventual home is usually the lower reaches of the small intestine, unless this has been surgically removed, or an individual has hundreds of worms.

Side effects at this stage can include, in order of occurrence: fatigue, cramping, bloating, gas, epigastric pain (stomach ache all over the abdomen), diarrhea, nausea, and a recurrence of the skin rash. A few people have reported constipation.

For those individuals who get gastrointestinal side effects, these are most likely to occur around day 21, as a result of the body’s attempt to expel the worms by deploying eosinophils – white blood cells that attack helminths – to cause eosinophilic enteritis. In most people, this inflammatory response translates to a few days of loose bowel movements or diarrhoea, perhaps accompanied by fatigue. A few people may get prolonged gastrointestinal symptoms continuing for many weeks, even into the low 20s, but it always resolves eventually, without treatment, and with no harm done.

The severity of the side effects varies enormously from person to person. Only a small percentage – perhaps five percent – experience stronger side effects, including pronounced diarrhea and cramping due to gas, which can be spectacularly bad and has been described as ‘toxic’, ‘industrial’ or ‘otherworldly’. Rarer still are fever, night sweats and joint pain. For those suffering the worst side effects, even if it is only a few percent of those who try the therapy, the effect is such that study or work would be very difficult. (Sorry, but I had to keep the “toxic/industrial/otherworldly” part in there. Cuz, well, it’s me.)

All the side effects except the skin rash normally reduce sequentially with successive doses. 

The skin rash at the inoculation site may also recur during the gastrointestinal side effect phase, perhaps because the worms shed cells and debris from their skin as they migrate through the host’s skin, and, when the worms attach and put the same kind of material (their skin) into contact with the host’s immune system in the intestines, the host’s immune system releases antibodies to those types of cells or proteins wherever they occur, whether in the intestine or in the skin.

Strangely, the first few hookworm doses produce a successively more pronounced skin rash, with the fourth or fifth inoculation leaving some people with a very impressive ‘love bite’, perhaps even surrounded by a halo of apparently bruised skin which can become raised and may be as itchy as the rash site itself.

Apart from the skin rash, which tends to ease after a few days, all the other side effects typically come and go, and the experience can be very much like riding a roller-coaster. There is also enormous variation between individuals, with some people getting no symptoms at all, and others experiencing relentless fatigue, disabling abdominal pain and geysers of diarrhea.(Geysers, people!) 

None of the geyser stuff has happened to me and I’ll be quite content if it does not, thank you very much. The inoculation rash has flared up a tiny bit and you can see many little dots where the little larvae entered my skin. Photos don’t do it much justice. It’s difficult to see the dots via photograph and it is diminished due to the way the rest of my skin looks.

And lastly… if anyone knows of any good doctors near me, in Cleveland, Ohio, that will actually listen and be supportive of me during this process and not look at me as if I’ve sprouted a second head after mentioning undergoing a treatment NOT approved by the FDA (*gasp!*) please throw me a bone. I’m not saying anything super negative about my doctor. She is just anti-drug (which I normally like) and won’t give me prednisone so I need to go to urgent care or emergency departments for it. I will say though, that I don’t care one freakin’ iota if something is approved by the FDA or not. I could go on and on about this but you’ll be even more bored than you already are.

As always, thanks for your support and for even just reading.

 

Advertisements

Day 3

Still alive here. Haven’t died from the worms yet.

I’m going to include some information I have here, and this will probably be a regular thing as the timeline progresses, from a document I have obtained from the wonderful Helminthic Therapy Support Group on Facebook. These folks know their stuff and have been a terrific resource for me and for countless others. Facebook isn’t always so bad. (Thanks HTSG!)

The following smaller italicized text is taken directly from the document titled, What to expect after inoculation with hookworm, written by John Scott, April 2012:

Days 3-5

Having migrated from the skin, via the bloodstream to the lungs, during the first two days, the still-invisible larvae then burrow through the lining of the lungs to join all the particulate matter – dust, smoke particles, pollen, etc. – being swept up along the ‘escalator’ of hairs that lines the inside surface of the lungs. This ciliary conveyor belt eventually transports the larvae to the throat, where they transfer from the airway to the gullet before continuing on their journey down to the stomach and on to the lower intestine, where they will spend the remainder of their 3 to 7 year life span (average 5 years). 

Occasionally, the migration of the larvae through the lungs may make some people cough, though this dose-related effect is actually quite rare. Coughing up phlegm and/or spitting should be resisted from days 2-5 to avoid expelling larvae that might be passing the throat at the time, on their way from the lungs to the gastrointestinal tract.

Common side effects at this stage are, in descending order or occurrence: a flare of the skin rash at the site of inoculation, fatigue, diarrhea, cramping and gas, nausea and vomiting. Children may display behavioral changes akin to those seen in a child with flu or allergies – lethargy, crankiness, etc.

(Yes. People do treat their children with helminths. Don’t judge.)

So far, no side effect to report here besides the inoculation rash. As I’ve mentioned before, the rash is not bothersome to me in the slightest due to all of the other skin eruptions I’m dealing with currently. The site actually feels a bit sore when I touch it. Maybe that’s to be expected? I did, after all, have 35 hookworm larvae crunching and munching their way through my dermal layers. Delightful, eh? I think so. Check out the photo at the top of this post and you can see their ‘dental plates’. He looks quite angry about something.

That’s all for today. I’ll educate you some more tomorrow.

Inoculation Day: Take 35 helminths and call me in the morning!

Well, I did it.

My worms arrived this afternoon.

I had considered posting photos of all of the materials that arrived but I thought better of it. As I’ve mentioned before, I won’t do anything that could potentially jeopardize my providers operations. I’d like to continue to receive therapy from them and I’d like for others to be able to continue as well. So, I’ll have to do it the old fashioned way and describe it all in writing. Don’t worry, I’ll throw up a few photos to keep things interesting.

After allowing the materials to come to room temperature, I started to prepare for inoculation. Two small vials, one bulb pipette, and a gauzy bandage were received. (No instructions come along in the package in case of interception by unknown entities. You’re sent all instructions via email.) One vial contained 35 hookworm larvae (which are not visible to the naked eye). The other vial was an unknown solution of perhaps saline that was simply used to rinse out the larvae vial and bulb pipette after placing all of that material onto the center of the bandage. After all of this was complete I slapped the bandage onto my inner, upper arm.

inoculation bandage!
inoculation bandage! there are worms in there!

That’s really all there is to it friends! But wait, I haven’t really gotten to the good stuff yet.

In my instruction packet, I had read that you should start to feel a stinging/burning/itching sensation right around the 7 minute mark. This proved to be fairly accurate in my case. This is how you know your larvae arrived to your home alive. You’re feeling them burrow into your skin. No big deal, right? Honestly, it’s not a big deal at all. It’s much less horrifying than it sounds. And for me, a person who has burning/itching skin on the regular, this shit has NOTHING on what I deal with daily. For example, the hives I have elsewhere are much more bothersome to me right now. So much so that I don’t even feel the inoculation rash at all. However, I’ve read and am told that the inoculation rash can get worse as the treatment timeline progresses.

The photos below show the current state of my skin. I have other areas that I haven’t photographed out of decency. These photos show the reasons why I’ve infected myself with parasitic worms today.

crook of my arm; urticaria/eczema.
crook of my arm; urticaria/eczema.
stefarm2
crook of my other arm; urticaria/eczema.
stefchest
chest, shoulder,neck,breast; urticaria/eczema.
stefhand
hand and wrist; urticaria/eczema.

 

I’m about 6 hours post inoculation and I’ll be leaving the bandage on for a full 12 hours. All larvae should have wriggled into my bloodstream by now.

I have access to a great document (written carefully and expertly by a fellow helminth host) that includes a rough day by day timeline of what to expect post inoculation. It contains information on where your larvae should be in your body and when and what side effects you’re likely to experience on certain days.

I’ll be documenting all side effects and anything that I feel at all here. I’ve been in touch with my provider this evening and have let them know that my worms arrived alive. My next dose of hookworm should be arriving in 3 months time. Exciting!

Stay tuned until tomorrow when I post photo(s) of the inoculation rash. I’m afraid it(they) may pale in comparison to my urticaria photos from today.