Washington Evening Journal
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Neighbors Growing Together | May 25, 2017

Empty Nest: Cyclospora

By Curt Swarm
Curt Swarm

I’m going to risk a sensitive topic here.  Around the 4th of July, I was attacked by an outrageous bout of diarrhea.  I figured it would be over in a few hours, like sudden onsets of such typically are.  It wasn’t.  It lasted four days.  And I was between dogs, so I didn’t have Holly Dog or Buddy Boy to play “sick dog.”   I was even running a “low-grade” fever.  Since my body temp is usually below normal, “low grade” is “high grade” for me.  My whole body ached, I was exhausted, and in a foul mood.
Strange.  I couldn’t figure out what was wrong.  It must be appendicitis.  Or the Dill Pickle Potato Chips I had eaten the night before I got sick.  You have to have something or someone to blame.  I scanned the package of Dill Pickle Chips for the artificial oil that some chips use.  I had heard it can cause problems.  I saw no artificial ingredients.
Four days of diarrhea is hard on the body.  Of course, my hemorrhoids flared up.  I dug around in my beside drawer for the hemorrhoid salve.  I found the tube, but realized I had been using it to treat my athlete’s feet.  (I had wondered why my athlete’s feet wasn’t clearing up.)  I applied the salve and felt some relief.
The next day, I decided to treat my athlete’s feet with the proper salve.  I would get it cured once and for all.  I applied what I thought was the right salve to my toes, and went about my business.
In short order, my toes started burning.  Burning real bad.  I returned to my drawer of salves and realized I had used the salve that was prescribed for shingles on my toes.  That salve is bad news!  It contains hot peppers, and burns when it comes in contact with moisture, like sweaty feet.  Good grief!  Well, at least I hadn’t used it on my hemorrhoids!  
The diarrhea came and went.  I would get to feeling better, and then have a relapse.  It was about then that I started hearing news about an epidemic of something called cyclospora.   I had all the symptoms.  The biggest outbreak was in Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa.  Yep, I had been to Sioux City, twice.  
Cyclospora is a stomach parasite most likely spread from contaminated vegetables or drinking water.  Experts now are looking at packaged salad mix as the culprit.  I certainly had eaten plenty of that.  (How do you wash packaged salad?)  People with symptoms of cyclospora are supposed to see a doctor immediately.  It’s treated with antibiotics.  
“The body produces antibodies,” I told myself.  “I’ll let my body heal itself.”
About this time, I noticed Buddy had worms.  Like massa, like dog, I guess.  Of course, I took Buddy to the vet.  Only the best for my dog.  My “free dog” has now cost me $135 and counting.  Still worth every penny!
To cure my chronic salve mix-up, I put the athlete’s feet cream in the top drawer, the shingles medication in the bottom drawer (I hope I never have the shingles again), and the hemorrhoid salve in the bathroom vanity.  It’s hell getting old.
The epoxy I keep in the tool drawer, far away from my eye drops.

Have a good story?  Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at curtswarm@yahoo.com, or visit his website at www.empty-nest-words-photos-and-frames.com