I have been suffering from intestinal problems, lower back pain, and headaches for the better part of two years. They started before we left Papua New Guinea (PNG). In the process I have seen many doctors, who were not able to come up with a diagnosis. In this long ordeal I really had began to identify with the woman that Jesus healed after she had been sick for 12 years. I knew that I had some kind of critter living in me, but no one could find it.
That is no one until the Lord put some remarkable events together.
Before leaving the DC area for Blacksburg, I made sure to visit a tropical medicine specialist in one last attempt to rule out any kind of weird creature inhabiting my bowels. After running many tests for many possible causes, she along with my primary care physician said that I was healthy as a man my age could expect to be. (Whatever that means!)
Coming to Blacksburg I continued to have symptoms which included waking up with headaches every night. This started me in on a new round of doctor visits with the last one to a gastroenterologist who said in effect that it was all in my head. However, she did mention something that led me to find the right people for the job. All along I thought that I had a problem with my digestive tract, but she told me that the pain in my lower abodomen that I constantly felt ebb and flow in intensity was not there but in my bladder.
This led me to Google the words "bladder" and "parasites," and I found the perfect culprit, a disease called schistosomiasis. It is transmitted by fresh-water snails, and depending on whom you ask may or may not be present in PNG. Around 2 1/2 years ago while in PNG I had hiked the Kokoda Trail, and that is where I thought I may have picked up the critter that causes the disease.
Next comes the "God Thing."
I was asked by a second-year medical student Clay to mentor/disciple him. We had met several times, and when he inquired about my quest to find and eliminate the mini-creature inside of me, I gave him an update. When I told him about the schistosomiasis, he thought of his mircobiology prof, who had worked in Borneo. While there he had acquired extensive experience in diagnosing tropical diseases.
Without going into too many details, I supplied these two men with the necessary samples for them to analyze, and lo and behold in the final sample right before they were going to turn out the lights and go home, Dr. Jim, who was Clay's instructor, saw what looked like a creature with two nucleii. Even after staining the tiny microbe was nearly invisible. It took a trained eye to spot it, and Dr. Jim nailed it. The other fact that they were able to confirm is that it did after all live in my digestive tract and not my bladder.
At first they could not tell what they had found, but later they identified the creature as a dientamoeba fragilis. (It is not an amoeba but a flagellate like a paramecium. You can learn more about it here http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/dientamoeba/index.html.) Suffice it to say that there are not too many of these creatures inhabiting our shores.
Today, I picked up $10.00 worth of pills to kill the thing. Please pray that the treatment will be effective.
Isn't God grand?
PS Clay told me that they were happy to discover that I did NOT have schistosomiasis because it often leads to bladder cancer.