Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Worms Are Starting To Look Good

So, as you know if you've been reading, I struggle with this whole package of autoimmune diseases which are probably interrelated somehow.  I have Crohn's Disease, rheumatoid arthritis, peripheral neuropathy, asthma, so-called "cotton-wool" patches on my's quite a list.  My autoimmune "package" tends to flare up in the spring and in the fall, and is probably related in some way to allergies.  This past spring's flareup was so bad it lasted into the beginning of August before six weeks of prednisone therapy finally quashed it.  Prednisone is a corticosteroid, which in small doses can be an effective anti-inflammatory.  In larger doses and over longer periods of time, however, it side effects can tend to outweigh its benefits.  These side effects include mood swings, irritability, weight gain, and actual physiological changes, notably a round "moon" face and an egg-shaped belly.  Part is from the steroids, and part is from the raging appetite that prednisone gives you.  I hate prednisone.

I am back on prednisone again after just a few short weeks of normalcy as my autumn flareup is early this year.  I cannot go anywhere or do anything without extensive planning, medicating, and embarrassment.  I won't go into the sordid details, but suffice it to say that I find them humiliating.  At age 57 I feel I am still far too young to be dealing with such things.

So there was this story on NPR and the BBC not too long ago about this British fellow who also suffered from similar autoimmune diseases, and who decided to do something about it.  What he did was, he went to Africa and walked barefoot through as many latrines as he could until he was well and truly infected with hookworms.

You see, he theorized that these autoimmune diseases are caused by our immune systems going into overdrive in our overly hygienic modern world.  Our bodies have nothing to fight against so they attack themselves, according to this theory, and so infecting one's self with worms gives the immune system  the enemy it "needs."  It stops attacking itself and starts on the worms.

This fellow maintains that the worms are controllable and that in the right doses they can be more beneficial than parasitic.  I have my doubts.  There are holes in the logic that I am having problems getting my mind around.  But as sick as I have been these last couple of weeks, I feel compelled to say it:

The worms are indeed starting to look good.

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