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By Jaclyn Aquino
As a mother of 4, I thought I had a good handle on rare childhood illnesses.
We have been through the whole hand, foot, & mouth virus (Coxsackie Virus), which my close friend and I appropriately titled cock-sucking virus. Like any good mother, I blamed myself. I figured it had something to do with the organized disaster I call home.
As an infant, my son had gotten a full blown thrush infection. My 3rd born was diagnosed with RSV at 2 weeks. When she was 3 years old, she started losing hair and I became concerned with her nutrition. Until, I found a bald spot, and a few circular patches of itchy flesh. You guessed it, Ringworm.
I can hardly remember my brain, and the doctor wants me to remember 2 doses a day for 72 days?! I lived and so did all the kids.
Fast-forward many years and a new place.
One night during a movie with my husband, I noticed an itchy feeling... you know down there. I thought, “Great yeast infection.” UGH! It’s never-ending with this vagina of mine, if I had any sense at all I'd get rid of the damned thing! The itching did not come back until a week or so later. I finally just chalked it up to being the start up of a yeast infection, or maybe showering every other day really wasn't enough? I started showering daily.
A couple days before Christmas while grocery shopping, I had this body-curling pain in my right side. I was admitted to the ER with a morphine drip. A days worth of anti inflammatory meds, CT scans, and ultra sounds (internal & external), vaginal cultures, all revealed nothing. Not even a swollen appendix.
I was discharged and followed up with my family Dr. I was then diagnosed with Dysmenorrhea (Extremely painful periods) and anemia. I started birth control pills, and anti-inflammatory medication. Things were much better by Christmas, and 100% back to normal after Christmas. I was so relieved that a diagnosis was finally made. It explained a lot about my menstrual cycles.
5am, I was tossing and turning with a relentless itch. This time I was sure that nagging yeast infection was back. I went about my lady business in the bathroom. Only when I wiped I saw a single white worm on the toilet paper! I freaked out! Like any sane person would do, sobbing hysterically at 5 am.
I slammed on the lights, changed my clothes and I was ready to go to the ER. I was infected, something was horribly wrong with my body. In my panic, I accidentally woke my husband. I was beyond humiliated to tell him about what I found. He tried comforting me, but when you find a worm anywhere on you, there is no comforting.
The kids were asleep so I decided to check them. I really felt more like a creep than a concerned mother. “It's OK sweetie, I am just checking your butt for worms while you are asleep.”
Yes, they had them. (Insert more sobbing hysterically here, along with the pain of being the worst mum ever, and fearing CPS was on their way to confiscate my kids.) I immediately woke each and every one of them up, and showered them with hot water (as hot as they could stand it) and Dial soap. They were pretty upset, but they were clean.
I was too embarrassed to go to my family Dr, as I have more of a friendly relationship with her and the staff. (With 4 kids, you make frequent visits.) The ER was my only option. Yet I was ashamed and embarrassed to even let anyone look down there knowing there could be a worm calling my lady caves home.
I decided to Google Pinworms, also known as thread worms. According to the Internet, they are very common in the U.S. It’s estimated that 1/3 of the American population is infected with this parasite at any given time. The kicker… They are very common with school-aged children.
Huh, you don't say. I have a kindergartener, a first grader, an almost 3 year old, and a 4 year old. Their life cycle starts with itching of the anus, and somehow ingesting these lovely parasites' microscopic eggs. When one person in a family has it, everyone in the family must be treated.
I could think of a million places we could have gotten this thing from. Pinworms are common in places where there are children or a large group of people, schools, parks, library, McDonalds, outside digging in the dirt, maybe our dog, etc.
One biologist wrote that at any given time, if you were to stick a piece of scotch tape to any wall, then observe it under a microscope you will find hundreds of “hardy pinworm eggs” on the tape. YUM!
Not only that, but this microscopic parasite can live for weeks on any surface and can even be airborne. Sickening, I know.
After some shame and inconsolable crying, I figured I could probably save a good amount of money and just go to our family doctor vs. the emergency room. I will be embarrassed but hey, it happens. Some of us just get worms in our southern regions.
I decided I could save some face by calling Dr before she got to the office. Doc called in the prescriptions for the whole family. Only we don’t have insurance, so we pay cash for our visits and medication. These magic pills were $105 for 2 pills. Yes you read that right, now multiply by 6. That is a hefty price, but hey I’d rather be broke and wormless.
Along with taking the prescription medication, we used some homeopathic methods. Drinking Pin-X. Eating garlic, and onions. Started probiotics, and skipped meat, sweets, refined sugars, flours (breads etc).
It's not a harmful parasite, although some not so reputable websites say that it can cause appendicitis. It maybe true. When I was released from the hospital, my discharge paperwork said “possible appendicitis.”
After some more reading, the eggs can be on anything even vegetables. You can clean your vegetables with special solutions, but it’s not a guarantee that everything will be removed. Learning all of that is more than enough to turn anyone into a Germaphobe.
I bagged all my kids' clothing, bleached every crevice in their room. Bleached all their toys overnight, vacuumed, and dusted. Rewashed all clothes even the clean ones. They are now getting 2 showers a day with Dial soap. One full body shower and the second just to sanitize their bottoms.
I also slather their bottoms with Desitin each night; another unreliable source said this kills pinworms before they lay their eggs. I will take their word for it. We now go through about ½ a bottle of dial hand soap each day. I have cleaned the bathroom and every inch of our home, each day since. I even bleached out my car. I can rest a little easier knowing that everything is “squeaky” clean.
I think I can manage to send them to school next week.
Getting germs is the unavoidable. Being able to hug and snuggle my kids after all of this to me means I really love them, parasites and all. After all this, I love my husband even more, because he is still attracted to me, and desires me just the same as before.