Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Horrifying Parasites (part 2)

So we were up in Nagaland, the state north of Manipur, this weekend for a few days visiting some of Johns friends. One of them was a doctor, who has been practicing for decades, and he had a story about an operation he had done two weeks prior that was so gross and amazing I can’t keep it to myself.

Beware: it is not for the feint of heart.

A Burmese boy came into see him (the Indian border with Burma is so porous you can walk in and out as you please) who was about 14 years old, with a seriously swollen belly. He told the doctor that it had always been swollen but that it had gotten worse recently. Worried that it was a tumor and in constant discomfort, he had made the several day trek to get it figured out what it was and hopefully get it removed. A CT scan and ultra sound were inconclusive; they could see that the poor kids intestines had been shoved to the side and that one of his kidneys had moved down to the front of his pelvis to make room for whatever the object was but they still couldn’t tell what had done this.

They decided to operate to figure out what was going on in there and see if they could safely remove it. After cutting in through the abdominal wall they still weren’t sure what they were looking at. It didn’t look like any tumor they had seen before. It didn’t look like any kind of swollen organ or infection either. Then they saw hair.

Not believing what their eyes were telling them they cut further in. A circulatory system, collapsed, never-used bowels. A brain. This teenage Burmese kid had been walking around his entire life with his twin growing inside of him!!!

This isn’t like Big Fat Greek wedding where the aunt talks about getting a small lump on her neck biopsied and finding the dead, unborn fetus of her twin. No, this thing was living in him and had been for over a decade! It didn’t have a heart, it was attached to the boys circulatory system so it didn’t need food either, thus the collapsed bowels. I didn’t get details on the brain, like how big it was or if it was functioning at all, but good lord! And for some reason this thing had recently decided to start a growth spurt. Was it trying to made its final Alien-esque escape? Its like Kuato in Total Recall only on the inside. I’m getting the shivers just writing about it.

("Open your Miiinnddd Mr. Quaid")

Its super gross I know but I had to share. Its one of those things that seems so insane it has to be real. I mean this doctor is a very well-to-do surgeon that runs a big hospital. Very respected in the community and with no reason to lie to us. He said he had pictures but that they were at the office, and I couldn’t quite bring myself to ask him to send them to me. I mean it’s a human being that had this and it seems grotesque, though certainly not below me, to gawk. But more importantly I still want to be able to sleep at night.


  1. Well Travis,
    The world IS a funny place. Consider this: there is an unknown person out there that loves you because she LOVES your mother! We have barely met (thought I did change your diapers when you were tiny). Anyway, here is an example of the value of remembering, in the dark corners of mundane days, that what you are doing MATTERS. It 'matters' even when it seems small because here I middle class, middle age, middle American definitely being MOVED by your writing, your experience and especially your glorious humility. Keep it up sweet boy!
    Maryann Hill