For over a year now, I’ve been battling a flesh-eating parasite… on my face. My girlfriend (now wife!) and I went on a volunteer trip through South America, we got engaged at Machu Picchu, and moved on to live in the jungle, determining my fate. Despite our vigilant efforts to avoid bullet ants, bot flies, poisonous snakes, malaria, and yellow fever, but when I let my guard down for a mere ten minutes at the end of our stay in the Peruvian Amazon, my life would change completely.
I didn’t even notice the affliction for a month, and I wasn’t even deeply concerned for another month after that. From a bug bit grew a small pimple, which grew into a wound, and gradually swelled up and expanded. While volunteering in Bolivia my friends asked me more and more frequently if I was ok, and would suggest that I get the wound checked out.
Upon our return to Oregon, I began working with doctors to figure out this gross growth. After a month of cultures, biopsies and mis-diagnoses, I got a call that said I had leishmaniasis.
When people say that your health is all you have, you never realize how true it is until you are completely at the mercy of illness and medicine. I began to realize that I was in serious trouble and would be dependent upon my doctors and pharmaceutical research to be well again – and eventually, to survive.