Wednesday, 21 February 2007

Parasites

Well, apparently my experiment with an easy way to post pictures failed for all those non-Mac users... I'll get some other ones up as soon as I find a way to connect my laptop to the internet again. For now it's much simpler just to log on with the computers at the hostel. We depart tomorrow via taxi, train and bus to get to Bourke about 12 hours after we leave. I'll be up at 5:30am, but I doubt I'll get to bed before 11 or 12pm tonight. Anyways, you want to hear more of India? I'm finding more ideas of topics as I go along and think about our experiences. Today's is the make-your-skin-crawl topic of parasites.
Now, before we left, the thought of parasites brought to mind the various water-bourne or mosquito-bourne ones that seem to be relegated to either the tropics or third-world conditions. It wasn't until after we arrived that our minds were captured with the other, slightly more mundane possibilities. One of the things we got a chance to do, was go to a local hospital and observe how they do things, what kind of patients they see, and how they are treated. One of my friends started asking questions, and found out that a large number of children from the local orphanage (about 50%) had scabies. To the uninitiated, scabies is a small parasite, about the size of a freckle on your arm, that is shaped much like a mini spider. These little guys enjoy burrowing under a person's skin making little wriggly tunnels and laying eggs along the way. You get them from prolonged close contact with someone who's infected, and sharing clothing and bedding with them. It takes a week to notice symptoms, which include itching to the areas where they burrow (usually, abdomen, groin, armpits etc.) Unfortunately, beyond being annoying, it's common for people to come down with serious infections, and so they would give shots of antibiotics to the people infected with these little guys.
As my friend was telling about what she had learned, a guy who had been at this orphanage for a while decided to tell us what else they had rampant there. It would seem most of the girls there have lice. He asked at the study group one day if any girls had lice, and all replied "no". When he offered a small prize to whoever brought him the first louse, every one of them started digging in their hair, and several ran to him at the same time to offer their findings!
At this point, we all started to become leary of getting too close to the people and children, but decided that these would be simple to deal with, and to just get over it. Every once in a while we'd wonder if one of us might have become infected, but no symptoms seemed to display themselves, so we figured maybe we'd gotten away scott free.
Yesterday morning, in a wonderfully drowsy state, I ran my hand through my hair, and brought it out in front of me... to discover a tiny little brown bug. Which I promptly THREW on the floor. I walked to the bathroom, returned to my spot very shortly and found the little thing still on the ground... brown, long abdomen, 6 short legs... so I went on the internet to look up lice. Sure enough, that was it. Well, maybe it's not so bad, could be one and only one. Found a tip on the internet that conditioner will stun them, and then you can comb them out... Wish I had a brush or comb or something of the sort with me... Oh well, hands work. Slide my hands over and over through slick conditioner soaked hair, grasping tightly with two fingers to get anything out... Uh oh.. there's one... two... 6...Grand total for the day, 9...Not looking good. Looking closer I find a number of nits near the hairline. Here's where I begin to wish I was one of those girls who primps in front of the mirror regularly and might have noticed these things. Oh well, so now the war is on. Wish me luck, would you?
Don't worry, I'll cover some deeper topics when I have more time.

2 comments:

MaryAnn said...

Those little things make for some nice cozy conversation(while you're scratching) and kind of keeps India with you awhile longer. Do you really think you should have been taking those animals out of the country? :)
MaryAnn

o miriam o said...

you illegally smuggled lice over to australia? doesnt seem like something you would do...but i guess you didnt want to leave too much behind.
wow, great to read your blogs. it has taken me a while to get around to reading...yes i am a terrible friend, and wish to not continue this blasphemy. keep updating, they are very interesting and i feel you should write a book cause you're a great writer! im not much of a reader but i know id have no problem reading cover to cover if it was written by a heather with lice.
hope all is well and may God bless you and the rest of your travels!