10 October 2012

Worms

Delicious
So I've been sick since Sunday. I spent yesterday asleep in bed while J went about his day off business. He made an amazing butternut squash casserole that I couldn't even eat. I awoke this morning to a blistering headache and upset stomach.

So I watched Mythbusters all day. Which is my second place go to behind Murder, She Wrote. Cause when you're sick the best things are science and murder. And explosions. And WASPy shenanigans.

I've not been feeling too well for the last month or so. I got ringworm in September and have had a lengthy battle that involved me sitting in an annoying NY waiting room while TMZ played on a TV and an elderly woman bitched loudly about how long it was all taking. I had to explain to the nurse what ringworm was! (!!!) (!?!?!) The doctor wrote a prescription without even looking at the spots on my chest or arms.

It took 5 weeks to get rid of it. Mostly because it was ALL OVER me and was hard to treat. But secondly because in the middle J and I went to England for the wedding of the century. Thus negating a lot of the treating that had gone on.

I bring this up for a two reasons:

1) Ringworm is lame. It's like a sunburn that won't go away. Mildly itchy yet spreading and ugly to look at so not something to be left to its own devices.

2) A woman mentioned something to me at work that reminded me of a great episode of Radiolab.

Dematophytosis is a fungal infection of the outer layers of skin on humans and other domestic animals. It is a fungus that feeds of keratin, which is found in skin and fingernails. There are 10 different species of fungi involved with infections and it is estimated that up to 20% of the population are infected. The clearest sign you have it are pronounced rings of red, they don't always itch, and can go undetected under your arms or in your groin.

Now on to Radiolab. If you are not familiar with this exceptional WNYC show, please acquaint yourself. Pick any show and go with it. They are amazing, strange, and enjoyable. The show I'm about to discuss is a great one. You can listen to it below.



The part of the episode the woman was bringing up to me at work was about people infecting themselves with hookworms to relieve allergies and asthma.

Hookworm
Radiolab centers their story on David Pritchard, a scientist who infected himself to study the effects. After a series of painful experiments, that he outlines in the show and in a NY Times article from 2008, he has settled on an infection of 10 worms as a prescription for allergies.

The process is called Helminthic therapy. And has been shown to be helpful for a number of over-active immune system disorders. The list is long - Crohn’s diseaseulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, asthma, eczema, dermatitis, hay fever and some food allergies. The theory is that exposure to these parasites helps to 'train' our immune system properly. That we provide a host body for the parasite and it helps us become immune to these disorders.

I am not a squeamish person. I take pain well. I handle blood well. The sound of bones breaking is the only thing that I really flinch at. The idea of purposefully infecting myself to alleviate allergies sounds preposterous.

BUT.

Sitting here feeling sick, fluish, the way I do in spring when my allergies kick into high, I've been thinking that it might not be so bad. Considering I've dealt with an annoying false 'worm' this last month I'm sure I could deal with a real one. Especially one that only caused minor itching at the infection site and few other problems in low numbers. 10 seems low, right?