Tag Archives: hookworm timeline

Delayed Post: Dose 3.

I’ve been meaning to update ya’ll for over a month but haven’t. 

On June 6, I received my third dose of hookworm larvae. This was my second dose of 50. They were alive and well. (cuz summer!) So, if all worms have persevered, I’m now hosting 135 of them in my gut. 

 And here’s a picture of the inoculation rash at day 4! 

  
Lovely, isn’t it? It was slightly painful this time around. A good portion of my forearm was swollen and bruised. And the itch! Yikes. It was bad this time. Those of us who brave helminthic therapy seem to have more severe skin reactions with each consecutive dose. 

And since I haven’t posted any progress notes from the ‘hookworm timeline’, I’ll do that to keep things interesting and more informative.

Weeks 12-20

Although some hosts have reported experiencing the start of long-lasting improvement at 7 or 8 weeks, the worms only really start to ‘work’, and symptoms begin to ease, at around 12 weeks. Allergies and asthma, in particular, generally (but not always) resolve between the 11th and 13th weeks. By week 20, the worms are usually in their stride.

I’m now at week 24. So quite honestly, I can still improve from here. 

I’ve had a few mild eczema flares on my hands and arms. These flares have been coming and going since March. I’ve had zero episodes of urticaria or hives since about February. The hives were pretty unbearable and I’m hoping they’re gone for good. 
And! I recently did an interview with an online tech magazine about helminthic therapy and my progress thus far. It was pretty exciting, I’m not gonna lie. I’ll keep you posted on that article if/when it’s published. 

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Day 23. Merry Wormsmas.

I’ve made it to day 23 without any sort of geysers. Phew!

I’ve been on steroids for the last week. Yesterday, I took my last dose of those and today I am experiencing joint pain, severe itchiness, gut aches, and dizziness. I decided to call my doctor and see if I could get some more prednisone to get me through Christmas. She refused to give me more steroids and told me that I should just take Allegra or Benadryl. She was forgetting what I told her when I last saw her: that I take enough antihistamines to cause toxicity. I take 1,080 mg of Allegra per day. That’s 6 of the 24 hour tablets. She was forgetting the gasp and scowl she gave me when I told her just how much I was putting into my system and just how little benefit I was getting from all of those pills. Today, I told her receptionist that I just wanted to be able to enjoy the holidays. They could not have cared less.

I’ll stop whining now. I do have perspective and realize it could always be worse!
Here’s what’s happening on “the timeline”:

Anyone reaching day 23 without experiencing significant symptoms will almost certainly be in the clear.

Allergies may get somewhat worse in the first 4-5 weeks, due to an increased inflammatory reaction, before usually improving after this.

Worms begin producing eggs between weeks 6 and 8, and, although egg output may remain low for several more weeks, some hosts have reported that they experienced the start of long-lasting improvement at 7 or 8 weeks.

And since I don’t have very much to offer this week in the way of interesting/fun material, I’ll leave you with a fun and festive song written by John Scott:

A Helminthic 12 Days of Christmas

On the twelfth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
twelve donors pooping,
eleven stools-a-steaming,
ten eggs-a-hatching,
nine technicians counting,
eight doctors doubting,
seven asthmatics singing,
six autistics mingling,
five years relief,
four months wait,
three days itch,
two plastic tubes,
and thirty five hookworm larvae.

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.