Saturday, September 5, 2015

Hanging with my hominis: making peace with parasites

Sounds disgusting right? Your immediate reaction is “well I sure as hell don’t have parasites!” The reality is you may not actually ever know – rather they may (and often) – manifest themselves as other “diseases” such as irritable bowel syndrome or leaky gut to name two examples if they have been left long enough.  Many people with parasites exhibit no symptoms what so ever until they have become so invasive that they begin to create secondary illnesses.
I recently returned from Nepal where I picked up a severe diarrhea for a week. It seemed to settle down to a manageable stage by the time I flew out to new Zealand (thankfully), but within two days of arriving back home it returned with a vengeance and in fact was so bad I ended up in hospital on fluids and electrolytes.  I literally could not keep anything inside me and I could not be away from a bathroom - seriously. After a stool sample came back negative and they started me on an antimicrobial “just in case” I started to notice my mindset. I was in so much pain in my gut that I knew a negative stool sample was wrong. The “just-in-case” treatment continued and I appeared to again come right, albeit with a sore bloated tummy but I put that down to being on a course on antimicrobials (I am not a fan of conventional medicine but being as sick as I was I decided to give them a go).  I diligently ate pro-biotics and started drinking water kefir again, doing everything I could to ensure my gut health was restored as soon as possible.
A few days after I had completed my course of antimicrobials I started to experience strong stomach pain and intense waves of nausea, coupled with my stomach becoming incredibly bloated. I ended up taking a week off work and again heading to the doctor who announced after another negative stool sample, that as I had all the symptoms of giardia he would treat me for that. I was to do another sample in a few days.  I held off on the treatment for giardia as I wanted to consult my naturopath and he tested me for parasites, which came back very strong in the large intestine and stomach areas. I started on parasitic treatment and left the antimicrobials aside.  
A few days later my third stool sample came back with a positive for Blastocystis Hominis – a commonly contracted protozoa that can be transmitted through faecal contamination; given my digging in foul-smelling soil in earthquake flattened Sankhu in Nepal, I wasn’t surprised.  

So the big question remained – to take or not to take the antimicrobials! I did some reading about this B.Hominis and found out that not a lot is known about it at all; in fact several studies cite the effectiveness of metronidazole (the treatment drug of choice) as being 0-100% eradication in those treated … well, that’s a pretty big range!
There is so little known about this parasite (even though it is extremely common in those who exhibit the signs of ‘travellers diarrhea') that treatment is hit and miss and more often than not researchers have even questioned if it is in fact a normal part of intestinal flora … I doubt that.
Back to my statement about mindset.  I was so focused on this monster in my belly that I started to feel as if I was making it worse by focusing on it. Yes I feel ill; yes I get intense waves of nausea like I have never experienced; yes I have heaved in the mornings as if I am pregnant (goodness knows I look pregnant!); yes I have a continual epi-gastric pain that will just not let up and yes I spend a lot of time with a wheat bag strapped to my guts lying on the couch watching movies … it is what it is.  I watched a documentary on medical technologies of the future the other day as I was lounging about.  The angle was not at all mechanistic in its approach but rather considering the body holistically – no mind/body Cartesian split, which we all know now is archaic in thinking.  This documentary looked deeply into the power of positive thinking and manifesting energy for healing.  It cited cases of people healing their various afflictions.  This really got me thinking.  In my training (indoctrination) as a midwife and sport scientist, I read a lot of research. Typically in studies that are trialling a new drug, a control group (the group that does not get the drug tested on them) will be ascribed a placebo drug (usually a sugar pill of some sort).  Neither the drug group nor the control group know if they have been given the drug.  The effect of the treatment drug can then be observed in a non-biased manner against the people who are the control (or normal) group to measure any worthwhile changes.  Interestingly there are often positive changes that occur in the group given a placebo drug.  Such observed benefits have been called “the placebo effect” - which we have all heard of.  These changes get left out of medical research – why? Because there is no money in a placebo - no one can patent the power of positive thinking!  I have actively shunned the medical mechanistic way of viewing the body for a while now.  I know my body has the ability to intuitively heal itself. I also know that when we give something energy – be it positive or negative – that energy will grow.  Have you ever noticed that if you focus on something that is really bugging you, it starts to become an all-consuming monster and just gets bigger and bigger and worse and worse? 
By focusing on the parasites in my digestive tract in a negative manner, I figured I was going to make it more intense; so much like the placebo effect, I decided to change my approach to these little critters that are making my life misery. I have welcomed them along for the ride – but like any ride it is going to come to an end.  I am focusing on directing healing energy into my digestive system; I am focusing on what I can do to feel more comfortable; mindfully choosing foods which sooth my stomach rather than irritate it (I have certainly been off my food since having this although you would not know as my stomach is so distended!); and I am positively encouraging B. Hominis to vacate the premises!

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