In this post Jasper Lawrence describes a trip to Cameroon to infect himself with hookworms. Here’s how it begins:
As my asthma got worse I became increasingly reliant on inhalers, pills and antihistamines as well as upon the oral steroid prednisone to stay out of hospital. I tried all the drugs and therapies available. As it was by the time I was in my late 30s I was a frequent visitor to the emergency room. As anyone who has experienced a severe asthma attack can tell you they are terrifying.
My use of prednisone increased, and as you may know the side affects of prednisone are quite horrible, particularly with long-term use. I started to suffer from some of these side affects, particularly obesity, and despite all this these drugs were only marginally effective in controlling my asthma.
Soon I was denied health insurance and so now I had the added burden of paying for all my medical care.
On a trip in the summer of 2004 to visit relatives in England I learned of a BBC documentary about the connection between a variety of intestinal parasites and various autoimmune diseases.
Cameroon has no tourism infrastructure, its people being so poor (your pocket change represents two or three months wages) and the insane corruption make for a very challenging environment for a western traveler, particularly a conspicuous white one. You are a walking pile of cash, a visitor from another, much wealthier, planet. One feels very vulnerable and exposed. It can be very wearing and the danger of being robbed is constant. . . . With the driver’s help (I told everyone of my quest) I was able to visit a variety of villages and with practice learned to identify where the locals would defecate.