Just so no one gets mad at me, don’t read this if you have recently or plan to eat spaghetti or other similar dishes … on second thought, don’t read this if you are eating, have recently eaten, or plan to eat in the near future.
I used to work in a garage. All the mechanics used to complain that no one ever seemed to call them to ask them over for dinner. People only seemed to call the mechanics when they had a problem with their cars.
Same thing tends to happen a lot with Mrs. WhiteCoat and me. Just got a call from someone we haven’t seen in over a year wanting me to call in a prescription for antibiotics … to a friend we’ve never met … who has a cough.
Um … no.
Last week Mrs. WhiteCoat got a call from Melissa – one of our close friends – who didn’t want to engage in small talk. The concern in her voice was evident.
“We have a situation here.”
“Junior just pooped in his diaper … AND THERE’S A WORM SQUIRMING AROUND IN THERE!”
“You mean a live worm?”
“Eeeeewwwww. What does it look like?”
“You want me to get the diaper out of the garbage and bring it over to your house?”
“NO! Was it one of those little white pinworms?”
“NO! It was six inches long and wiggling all over the place!”
Then I get a phone call at work asking for advice about the wiggling worm.
“Did it smile?” I asked, chuckling at the description my wife gave me.
“Did they see worm babies?”
“Stop being disgusting. What should they do?”
“Um … put it out in the garden?”
“You’re going to make me puke.”
“OK. Prescribe him some Vermox.”
“What if they see more worms?”
“Twirl them up with a fork and put them in the garden … er … um … flush them down the toilet. Seriously, if there are more worms up there, then they will come out in the stool – dead, hopefully.”
That day, Mrs. WhiteCoat fielded a half a dozen more calls from our friend.
“Can these things get into his liver?”
“I read on the internet that they can go to the lungs and Junior has a cough. Could he have worms in his lungs?”
“The other kids had stomach aches this week. Should I test them for the worms, too?”
I feel bad for the family and it is kind of gross, but come on – relax a little.
If you’re curious, you can read more about nematode (worm) infections here and here and here and here (including pictures). Bottom line in the US is that most infections are asymptomatic, but various nematode infections can cause rectal itching, skin rashes, bowel obstruction, pancreatitis, unexplained anemia, muscle aches, lung problems, and even fetal problems in pregnant women. To minimize your chances of getting infected, wash your hands frequently, don’t walk in sewage (some worms can penetrate skin), avoid contaminated food, don’t eat dirt, and wear insect repellent in areas where certain types of worm infections are endemic (filariasis can be spread by mosquitoes). Interesting tidbit for docs is that nematode infections are a consideration in patients with persistent unexplained eosinophilia.
Eventually, Melissa calmed down and the worm freakout subsided.
Because it is Christmas break at the schools, a select few kids get the honor of taking the science pets home for the holidays. Daughter WhiteCoat got the privilege of taking home the class turtle whom we named Master Oogway (pictured above) after the character in Kung Fu Panda.
Once we got his habitat set up at our house, we needed to feed him, so we used the internet to find out what turtles eat. Carrots, grapes, strawberries, insects and crickets. For a special treat, they really like mealworms.
After reading the last sentence, I couldn’t keep a straight face when I asked Mrs. WhiteCoat:
“Hey … so how’s Melissa’s kid doing?”