Uninvited Guests — British Man's Painful Ordeal as Parasites Burrow Into His Penis

Friday November 29, 2019

What started out as a trip of the lifetime for this British man, turned out to be the start of a surreal nightmare.

"James Michael, 32, went swimming in Lake Malawi in southeastern Africa with pals two years ago, but had no idea and had no idea a parasitic worm had burrowed into his privates," reports Sydney Australian news outlet Channel 7.

What follows was a devastating and puzzling journey for the Londoner, who traveled with his buds to Zambia and Zimbabwe, before visiting Malawi for five days. During their stay they swam and canoed daily in Lake Malawi.

But after a stint in a wheelchair, suffering digestion and toilet problems, and using crutches for four months he has finally made a full recovery.

When I look back at photos from my time in Africa, it's weird to think that's where the parasite crawled up my penis," he told Channel 7.

"That wasn't exactly how I imagined the trip of a lifetime with my friends going - the whole experience was surreal and strange.

"Plotting a line, it was like going straight from a paradise beach to a hospital bed, almost incapacitated and helpless."

Michael felt fine when he returned to the UK in August, 2017; then more than a year later — in October 2018 — "he began to notice a loss of feeling in both legs," reports Channel 7, but he thought it was bicycle fatigue.

But the fatigue got so bad that it was taking him five minutes to climb the 15 steps into his flat. A visit to a hospital and was given antibiotics; but things only got worse and he returned to the hospital a week later.

"I explained to them that something serious was going on," he said.

He went to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in November 2018 when he woke up sweating uncontrollably, and started to worry he had MS or motor neurone disease.

Worried James was given antibiotics and sent home, but still felt terrible, and a week later, with the loss of feeling increasing went back to hospital.

"I explained to them that something serious was going on," he told Channel 7.

"They determined quite quickly that my immune system was attacking my spine, leading to the loss of control of my legs.

"I was put on a six-month course of steroids to counter this, but they didn't actually know what had caused this."

What was causing this remained a mystery until Doctors from the Hospital For Tropical Diseases told James that a parasitic worm had crawled up his penis and laid eggs in his body.

"A week before Christmas he was diagnosed with bilharzia - an infection caused by a parasitic worm which lives in fresh water in subtropical and tropical regions - and given suitable medication," reports Channel 7.

But not without further agony for James: the infection was killed, but he was debilitated and was given only a 30% chance for a full recovery.

"It was a horrible feeling - I felt completely helpless, and the odds weren't good. I couldn't wish what I've been through on anybody."

The steroids caused painful acne to appear all over his back, making it unable to sleep. That and diarrhea and a need for a catheter made his recovery a long and difficult one.

He also lost his appetite, and found maintaining a physical relationship with his girlfriend impossible. "My girlfriend couldn't hug me because just to touch me hurt and we've not been intimate with each other because it's just too painful for me."

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