A Zoo in my Stomach

Posted on April 27, 2018

Montezuma's Revenge, Delhi Belly, Aztec Two-Step, by whatever slightly perjorative name, it translates as some sort of gastrointestinal distress. I think I have a pretty solid constitution and for all the travels I undertake, I infrequently fall ill. I trace this current episode to my last meal in Peru a couple weeks ago. I'd found a cafe in Cuzco and become friendly with the owner, his outsize personality imbued it with a pleasant vibe, the food and cocktails great, and the price easy on the wallet. I ate several meals there, including my final dinner and then flew to Mexico. With an unwanted Peruvian hitchhiker, whose presence was manifested with an uncomfortable rumbling in my stomach and inopportune hasty visits to the toilet. Inca Indigestion?

While these nuisances usually clear up on their own, a couple of weeks passed and my stomach still made loud enough noises that others sometimes noticed. Then it would go quiet for some days, leaving me to think my intestinal micro-flora strong enough to win the battle with the Peruvian interloper. The noise and feeling was mostly tolerable, but the need to sometimes high tail it to the toilet in mid conversation both awkward and embarrassing. It's not out of the ordinary, nor considered improper etiquette here in Mexico to discuss ones digestive tract and how it's misbehaving, and you get offered a slew of opinions, typically along the line of "my grandmother swears by a mixture of garlic and olive oil", or various other home remedies, but equally common is to hear, "you need analysis."  I've heard this enough now to know that the speaker does not mean I need a shrink, but I need a laboratory analysis of blood and stool. This costs only $22, and the lab will do other exams for the same price, so I asked for a full battery of tests. By evening (this sort of price and speed unavailable in the USA) the results are ready, and it's official, I have amoebas. Everything else checks out fine (though cholesterol a tad high).

While I'm a peaceful guy, I want these one-celled creatures gone. The doc says you need to de-parasitetize yourself. Yes it's an actual verb in Spanish; desparasitarse. My next stop is the pharmacy, where a week long course of the drug is about $10. After which I'm meant to take pro-biotics to help re-establish the beneficial micro-fauna I've exterminated along with the unwanted. Mexican friends inquire if I'm deparasitizing myself. Gringo friends ask if I'm on antibiotics. New Age friends (nationality irrelevant) ask if I want their holistic cure. I mention the treatment to my cousin (she is Mexican) and she says, "oh cousin, we don't use that word for people, only for animals, like you say worming your dog." So either my cousin is mistaken, or my friends are making passive aggressive remarks about me being an animal. I prefer to think my cousin is wrong. I check with my Mexican friends who concur that  they undergo an annual deparasitizing; my cousin wholeheartedly agrees, and says she does the same, she only disagrees with the terminology (I suppose she lived too long in the USA),  as she all too often hosts a zoo in her stomach.