The unkempt man before me looked at the floor, his discomfort playing on his face as he hesitated. “Doc, I think I am having a problem with parasites…”
“Really? Tell me about it.” I braced myself. I knew it wasn’t going to be pretty.
This sort of thing never was.
“When I take a shower, these worms come out of my ass and then squirm back into my body through my toenails.” He went on to tell me how for months this had been going on. He was too scared of these worms to take a shower now.
His eyes met mine. He was terrified. Terrified of them. Terrified of me. Terrified of what I would think of him.
“Oh.” I grimaced. In my head I was thinking “Riiiight…” What I said instead was, “Well, I will want a stool sample, of course….”
He stood up, excited, and started digging in his oversized jacket pockets.
“I’m glad you said that, doc. I’ve got one better. I managed to trap some of those bastards.”
He pulled out a Mason jar filled with…
“Doc? What do you mean? Is it bad? Can you fix me?” Panic rose in his voice.
I swirled the liquid in the jar. There were white floaty bits.
“Do you clean yourself with toilet paper in the shower?”
“Yeah. I clean my butt crack with it. I wouldn’t want to use my face cloth!”
“Look, this is toilet paper. I can send it to pathology but your worms are toilet paper.”
He stared at me, doubtful.
“Watch.” I ran to the bathroom and grabbed a fistful of toilet paper, dampened it in the sink, and demonstrated making the toilet paper worm-like pills for him using the back of my hand.
His relief showed but I could also tell he was still not buying it completely.
“Tell you what. Stop using the toilet paper in the shower. See what happens. If it doesn’t stop, we will do the poop tests.”
He agreed, reluctantly.
I felt a nudge in my brain. Well go on! There was another question that I needed to ask but I was not sure how he was going to take it.
“Say, do you hear voices?”
Shocked, he exclaimed, “Yes! How did you know?”
“I have meds that can make the voices go away.”
He leaned forward and whispered, “I don’t need meds. I got a dog. When I hear voices I look at him. If he is still and quiet I know the voices aren’t real. If someone is there, he barks.”
Given the opportunity, people will often surprise you with their ingenuity and creativity. There is beauty everywhere, even in the mind of a man terrorized by parasitic delusions.