Just in case you are on the edge of your seat waiting for an update on my tale of woe…
I would like to introduce you to two close companions of mine.
Here’s Perry, my dientamoeba fragilis:
I believe he took up residence in my intestines fairly recently, perhaps in Ghana. Apparently he’s a crafty guy who evades detection, so I’ll never know for sure where or when I picked him up.
And here’s Zoey, a blastocystis hominis who’s been with me for at least a year:
Because the consequences of harboring this particular parasite are medically unclear, when Zoey showed up in my test results last summer, my gastroenterologist decided to ignore her for the moment and focus instead on treating other things that were more likely to be causing my intestinal distress.
This time around, I saw my integrative medicine doctor before my GI, and when she discovered that I now have not one but two parasites calling my intestines home, she prescribed a ten-day course of metronidazole, which goes by the drug name Flagyl. I’m three days in and it is making me super nauseous and dizzy. It is also probably doing a lot of collateral damage to my gut, but who knows. It’s all very unclear. So much is unknown about digestive health; it’s frustrating.
Still, I’m happy to be doing something, anything, to get my house back in order. And by my house I mean my body, because what is my body if not my home? Parasitic visitors are not welcome in it.
I saw my GI the day after I saw my integrative medicine doctor, and though she agreed with the course of treatment, she also told me not to expect too much from kicking out these home crashers. She said that achieving anything close to a balanced microbiome is tricky for people like me, and that I may still feel shitty even after the parasites vacate the premises.
Still, I’m excited about the presence (and imminent departure) of my two parasites. It means that I can possibly blame something separate from myself for my digestive failings. It also opens up a new front in the battle for my gut health. Heretofore I had been fighting again generic bad bacteria and general bacterial imbalances; now I am fighting against two very specific enemies with very specific names.
So, after leaving the first doctor’s office, I found myself happily humming a song we used to play on the record player when I was a kid, “Me and My Teddy Bear.” Only I was singing “Me and My Parasites.” I ended up writing a full adaptation that is now stuck in my head:
Me and my parasites
They have got strong tenants rights
Just me and my parasites
They play and play all day
I hate my parasites
They keep me up both days and nights
Oh I hate my parasites
They prey and prey all day
Every night they’re with me
As I climb up the stairs
And in my guts they glisten
And give me toxic flares
But me and my Flagyl pill,
Are out to get em, kill kill kill!
Just me and my Flagyl pill
We slay and slay all day
Then me and my one body
Sans parasites and I’m set free
Just me and my one body
I pray and pray all day
I enjoyed the exercise so much that I thought, maybe I should write a book of poetry called “Rhymes for the Digestively Distressed”? It’s an uncaptured niche market for sure…
[Top photo: Osvaldo Gago; parasite photos: CDC]