Happy New Year. May the year ahead bring you contentment, satisfaction, and, most importantly, good health. Good health seems to be what I’m thinking about most these days. I will end 2018 and begin 2019 by first saying that my intestines seem to be in better balance now, thanks to Oaxaca gastroenterologist Dr. Miguel Gomez Arciniega.
Today, I gathered with a few women friends and my Teotitlan del Valle family to mark my birth day, share our intentions for 2019, and eat gluten-free chocolate cake topped with Oaxaca chocolate frosting. It’s good to be back in the kitchen. (I’m experimenting with a gluten-free diet.)
Now, back to the bugs.
For the past four months, my system has not functioned well. After two blood tests and an equal number of lab samples, I was declared bug-free in the USA. But the problem persisted. So, I sought out Dr. Miguel, who diagnosed me almost immediately and confirmed within days that I had a parasite after lab work was done here in Oaxaca in early December.
I do not eat street food. I sanitize my fruit and vegetables with an anti-bacteria disinfectant. I hesitate to eat lettuce except in the very best restaurants. I’m cautious. But sanitation is illusive. We can even get sick (and I have) in upscale Mexican restaurants owned by the most famous chefs. In the USA, we can get poisoned from something as simple as bad romaine lettuce. Food and water-borne disease have no boundaries.
I was diagnosed with Blastocystis. This is a common microscopic organism, but as Dr. Miguel explained, when the microbiota is out of balance we have problems. I had too many bugs in my intestines!
What to do?
Dietary No-No’s. No dairy, he said. Not even yogurt or kefir or milk. No mole. Now Oaxaca is famed for her seven moles and its a challenge to eat Oaxaca food and not consume mole. Next, no beans. No legumes. No garbanzos. No quesillo or queso fresco (likely because they aren’t pasteurized). What can I eat? I asked him, disheartened. Anything else that you want, he said. Well, it really didn’t matter since I had no appetite. A travesty when one lives in Foodie Heaven.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists the symptoms and possible cures. Here is what the Mayo Clinic says, too.
Here in Oaxaca, there are many over-the-counter remedies. That lead me to believe that a lot of people here suffer from long-term intestinal upset. Bugs are a way of life. People just don’t talk about it.
A few people have shared with me cures that employ natural homeopathic treatments, like consuming pounds of raw garlic. Intestinal bugs come in many different forms and varieties, but it seems that the symptoms are similar.
When friends asked, How are you? I told them. Some whispered they have problems, too, and asked for a referral. Intestinal health is a topic most of us prefer to keep private.
Oh, and did I mention, the lab work here was 300 pesos (equivalent to $15 USD) and my first hour-and-a-half consultation with Dr. Miguel was a hefty 500 pesos (equivalent of $25 USD).
Meanwhile, my Zapotec friends and neighbors celebrate the New Year by wearing something new and cleaning house. Making a fresh start, so to speak. It might be more effective to clean house than to make a resolution!