That Time I Got A Brain Parasite

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When I was studying for my degree, we shared a campus, as well as some faculty, with the medical school. My neurology professor—whose clinical stories pretty much guaranteed I would never ride a motorcycle or try to shoot myself in the head—also talked about this thing medical students do where whatever disorder or disease they’re studying, they’ll be convinced they have it.

internet sick

That Time I Got A Brain Parasite

(She was just full of funny stories. Because potentially fatal diseases are always a laugh riot. Please tell us again about that South American worm that burrows under your skin then pops out of a zit at your ankle, because I have this itch on my leg…)

But now I don’t have to go to years of medical school or incur student debt that my children will have to pay off. Because there’s the internet.

So, back in the summer, my ankle was swelling up after a day of walking, by which I mean going back and forth to the kitchen between hours of sitting at my desk. How worried should I be about this? Let me pull out my WebMD app.

Ah. Edema. That’s doctor for “swollen up like a water balloon.” Very helpful. Let’s see what it could be:


Inactive lifestyle

High blood pressure


Congestive Heart Failure

Holy crap! I have gout? Didn’t Benjamin Franklin have that?

(Just in case you’re worried, I don’t have gout, just a love of salty snack food. *sigh* A love that can no longer be.)

Then about two weeks ago, my knee started hurting. Can’t crouch, can’t kneel. The internet gives me several reasons:

You’ve got a stress injury due to your repetitive walks to the mailbox every day.

You’ve dislocated your patella while shaving your legs.

You’ve torn your ACL while watching tennis.

You’re old.

I hope that ACL surgery isn’t too awful.

Then last week…

Okay, look. I just wanted to (a) get a clue whether it was a sinus headache or a migraine, and (b) get a new idea what to do about it, because I’d been trying everything I knew for both those things and nothing had worked.

How was I to know that I had a rare Amazonian brain parasite?

WebMD, regarding my headache, says I should try to reduce my stress. Right. You try relaxing when a brain worm is curled up in your sinus cavity, eating Fritos and retaining so much water that you hear sloshing when you move your head.

Or I could just have a sinus infection.

But I’m pretty sure this thing is going to take over my will and run me like a puppet soon. If you see me exercising, you’ll know it’s true…


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