My Pet Parasites

I have an amoeba! Or perhaps a protozoa! (Probably many of them, in fact.)

Just last week, my husband and I returned from an extended vacation in the Himalayas, where our friend Luke is doing his research on the temple town of Kedarnath. We had the amazing experience of walking with the three-day procession that takes the temple’s diety back from its winter home in the comparatively warm Ukhimath up to Kedarnath, its usual place of residence. Yes, three days, about 26 miles, an increase of something like 7,000 feet in elevation. Over roads, paved trails, dusty slopes. Through towns filled with hundreds of singing, uniformed schoolkids and villages where a handful of women would toss flowers on our diety, say prayers, offer tea, while still finding time to help whittle my walking stick with a sickle.

And along the way I seem to have picked up my first parasite. As a science geek, I was all excited to look up giardiasis and other options. One of the things that worried me, though, as I got more and more fatigued just sitting around back in our Delhi apartment day after day, was the fact that diagnosis required many days of turning in samples. This prospect was pretty daunting, considering it would mean wandering around in 108 degree weather!

I need not have feared.

Yesterday, I went to our neighborhood doctor (who actually specializes in cardiology but seems to treat everything, including the minor dog bite I had two months ago). He asked a few questions, poked me in the belly a few times, and that was that. Rather than try to pinpoint my exact invader (with most likely dubious lab support to analyze tests), he just gave me something that kills EVERYTHING. Bacteria…protozoa…And then he prescribed some nice acidopholis to keep my tummy inhabited by the good stuff.

The verdict: “Yes, it’s some sort of amoeba, maybe giardia.” Which is extra-curious, cause giardia is a flagellate (it has a tail), not an amoeba.

But whatever.

Usually I’m the type to analyze every med I’m given, but here the Internet proves useless. I’m taking ornidazole/ofloxacin, a potent combination that appears to be sold only in India. At first this seems rash, but in a place where proper diagnosis may be impossible, the approach makes sense. Why waste time on particulars, if the particulars may never come?

So far, so good. I’m feeling better already, not still like I’m about to faint any minute. My only regret is that I won’t one day be able to reminisce with the help of my own giardia toy.



2 thoughts on “My Pet Parasites

  1. Love the title– and as a fellow science geek I also wonder about the lack of diagnostic distinction between an ameoba and giardia. Good thing you weren’t rash and the cure-all antibitiocs didn’t cause a rash.

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