This isn’t the beginning of my Giardia story, but it’s the first time I’m writing about my long, bloated, smelly struggle with Giardia. This is a parasite which inhabits your intestines, giving you intense gas, bloating, and diarrhea. It can leave you with severe lactose intolerance. You can read about the actual parasite all over the internet: wikipedia:Giardia
I caught Giardia on a tubing trip in the Potomac River, in Harpers Ferry, WV. I was out there with a group of friends in July 2014, drinking Coors light, happily tubing down the river. We were splashing around, the beer cans were getting full of river water, and nobody thought much of drinking from them. After all, we were drunk and coors light tastes just like potomac water anyway.
Fast forward a week and the intense symptoms start: LOTS of diarrhea, bloating and gas. Strong cramps, and sensitivity to almost all food. I had just resigned from my job and was looking forward to a month off. It was hard to eat on the day of my going away party, so the gallons of Jameson we drank that night kicked in quickly.
The symptoms persisted for a few weeks. I went to my physician and they tested my stool for Giardia, but I made a mistake with the samples I created for the lab. You’re supposed to give samples from several different bowel movements. I only scooped my poop from one day. It’s a revolting process the first time you do it. The tests came back negative, but two doctors agreed that I must have Giardia from the symptoms and the obvious source of the parasite.
I took a 7 day course of Metronidazole, a very strong antibiotic. You can’t drink for the duration, and the effect of the antibiotic was noticeable after ~day 3. I felt a lot better after having taken the antibiotic.
Unfortunately, some of the symptoms continue. It’s now February of 2015, and I’m still trying various types of treatment, that I’ll write about here. The stool sample tests still come back negative for giardia, so my physicians haven’t been able to help me too much.
It sucks to be a sufferer for so long, but it has honestly helped me lose some weight, control my drinking, and drop a lot of unhealthy foods from my diet. I’m trying to look at the bright side here :) My wife actually shed tears in August in a Chicago hotel room without a bathroom fan after I’d done my business, the smell was so bad. It’s awful! Never drink Potomac river water!
I plan to write down some of the things I’m attempting to do to get better. I hope it helps somebody else.