Thursday, June 22, 2006

Meet My New Friend, Fred!

Bathroom humor is all part of being a Peace Corps volunteer. You get to a point where you and your fellow PCVs openly discuss bowel movements over dinner.

For a year now, I've been joking about Fred, a worm that lives inside of me. Though I didn't really think I had a worm, it was good enough to explain the weird stomach ailments, weight loss and general malaise in the digestive tract. Call him an imaginary friend. Whatever. But he typically surfaced in conversation. Just the other night, I was telling some other volunteers how I was feeling a little queasy because Fred was acting up a bit.

Turns out that Fred isn't imaginary at all. In fact, he's very real. And he might have friends. Yesterday, after giving a few, um, samples, I got the diagnosis that I have roundworms. Not the tiny little worms you can't see but under a microscope. But the big round ones that grow as long as 15 inches. "Amazingly, up to a hundred worms can infect one person," says one bit of research. Uh, amazing. Unless it's your gut!

Roundworms are common when you live in a tropical country, especially one like the Philippines with poor, unsanitary conditions. Not a big surprise that most people get them here at one point or another. Perhaps I should consider it a badge of honor in the Peace Corps. Does this mean I'm a real volunteer?

I guess I'll chalk it up to experience and hope they don't come back. For now, I'm off to the C.R. (bathroom) to clean out the system....