Wednesday, March 8, 2017

My Gut

There is a restless highway between our brain and our gut. The enteric nervous system is often referred to as our body’s second brain. It belongs to the part of the nervous system that is responsible for controlling the gastrointestinal system. We often refer to that "gut feeling" with first impressions, trusting our "gut instinct" when we face a metaphorical "Y" in the road, feel our stomach suddenly drop when having a mental collapse, or a loss of appetite when our brain pathways are dominated by adrenaline. "Our brain and gut are connected by an extensive network of neurons and a highway of chemicals and hormones that constantly provide feedback about how hungry we are, or if we’ve ingested a disease-causing microbe", this pathway is called the brain-gut axis (Justin Sonnenburg, 2015). Studies show that the gut microbes influence the body’s level of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which regulates our feelings of happiness. This is where I get the "A-HA!" moment because my moods are experiencing frequent turbulence these days.
Giardia Lamblia 
My stomach can painfully empathize with a creature from the tropical jungle, struggling in the Sahara desert. I imagine a foreign species invading my comfortable and healthy stomach, causing it to be in attack-mode since I have arrived in Lima. I have had two parasites (blastocystis hominis and giardia), have gotten food poisoning, and continuously have stomach pain, bloating, and gas. On average, 80% of Peace Corps Volunteers will poop their pants during their service and are likely to have a parasite. I experienced neither during my service. Well, folks, two months in Lima and I have done it all. Fortunately, I have a toilet, washer, and easy access to bottled water.
Blastocystis Hominis
After visits with three different doctors, all sorts of analyses, taking antibiotics in the morning for a month, followed by probiotics during lunch... my agitation has no filter, and my motivation has diluted. As I am writing, I lower my chin and stare at my belly, caressing it thinking "It's OK buddy, you got this".

This internship has been full of surprises: For instance, when a surge of hyper-focused joy and intensity overcame me when I assisted in mapping the 26 Zonas Veredales in Colombia; the steady amusement of researching homicides caused by security guards; and the nurturing satisfaction when learning an entirely new subject, like Forensics Ballistics. To getting a free "colon cleanse", naming my first parasite Ned, and helplessly reaching far ahead towards my own resiliency, stretching and clenching my hands like a hungry baby. Dramatic I know; this new lens and I have started off a little rough.
Emergency hospital in Lima

Lessons learned: Make sure you have good international insurance, drink bottled water, do not eat anything pre-cooked. If you are experiencing symptoms get two to three feces tests, see a couple of doctors, meal prep, and start a food diary. Surprise, who knew a couple of parasites would be such a great office icebreaker?! I am becoming a gut guru and others seek me for advice. Give it humor. And finally, listen to your gut, mine whispers in agony "You are on the right path".

My grandpa Ed, my mom, and my guardian Pattys experiences resonate with me - their strength to overcome health obstacles far beyond this, inspire me to keep moving forward with a firm walk. I especially have to thank my sister Kiki, my boyfriend Ben, my mom Kim, and my BFF's Liz and Brad. You all have been researching, encouraging me, listening to me, and healing me through laughter and compassion.
Source: Gut Feelings , Kiki Haga


  1. Try coloidal silver. It works better for me than anything doctors have prescribed. I picked up some bad stuff in Ecuador a few years ago and it was the only thing that worked.

    Keep up your great work!...

    1. Hey Jack, I appreciate the tip! Thank you and its good to hear from you. Hope all is well