Last week I found out that I have been a very friendly host for this not-so friendly guy. Medically, known as Blastocystis hominis, I just refer to him as “He.” And He has set up camp in my intestines since November and doesn’t plan on leaving. I have visited quite a few doctors and pharmacies in Antigua trying to figure out 1) how to get rid of this guy and 2) how to prevent him from coming back. There are various opinions and medicinal options for number 1. However, whenever I seek suggestions for number 2- ya know, the whole prevention side- I get the same response. Welcome to Guatemala. (thankyou, thirdworldcountry)
For now I am focused on getting rid of him. I am a regular at the local lab. And let me tell you I have a very deep appreciation for these people who examine other people’s poo in search of parasites. I cannot imagine the stories in that lab, or the smells for that matter. God bless the poop checkers. Once a month I carry my sample, carefully hidden in a black plastic bag, to the local lab. I used to place a white label with my name scribbled on it to try and cover-up the product inside. Now, I just bring it in. Let’s be honest we all know what’s in there. Inside the lab there’s a small, clear window. All I have to say is “I have a muestra.” She nods and takes the bag. I pay 25 questzales and come back in 6 hours for my results.
Now what I have learned over my months of sample producing is that parasites are sneaky little fellows. They lay egg like things and when the eggs are dormant you have relatively little symptoms- no diarrhea, no cramps, no bloating, no pain. However, when those guys hatch then the symptoms return and wreak havoc down under. The thing is I’ve been told is that the labs can’t detect the eggs, just the hatched parasites. Which explains why for 5 months (maybe more) I’ve had hard time getting rid of this guy.
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My husband teaches communities how to build water filter systems because he knows that diarrhea kills more young children than AIDS, malaria and measles combined. Did you read that?
DIARRHEA. kills MORE kids than AIDS, malaria, and measles COMBINED! wow.
When he first started the project in the norther area of Guatemala they conducted research to find out how many people suffered from diarrhea. The responses were almost always negative. They were confused. How could no one have diarrhea? They had done water samples and found Ecoli and Giardia. With a little more probing and talking with families and kids, they found out that the majority of people didn’t know anything other than diarrhea. They had spent more of their lives with it, than without it. They didn’t know diarrhea was not normal.
Now, they are over 3,400 water filters in this area. And hopefully many families and kids who are healthier and now living without diarrhea.
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My husband would probably build us a water filter right here in the house if he could (they work that well), but because we live in the city limits Antigua and Antigua adds bleach to the city water we can’t. The bleach kill the good bacteria. (for info as to why: read this)
So, the fight against the parasite continues…
I tend to be of the persuasion that tea can cure anything- even parasites. Imagine my excitement when one day I found some “anti-parasite tea.” I’ve been drinking it religiously. I try and offer it to my husband, with added honey to wash it down. But he declines and says, I’d rather just take medicine. Which he did, because the truth is if I have something living inside of me. I’m sure he does too.