The fight was long.

It wasn’t easy.

But I’m glad to report that I’ve won. It’s over. At least for now.

How it all began

The beginning when my leishmaniasis appeared
The Beginning – When the parasite settled in.

This is not your common fight. The one you have against your drunk mate that takes away your phone when you play Pokemon Go. Who does that?!?

This is a fight where you have to go against what your mom told you when you were a kid and that is that you shouldn’t fight someone that is smaller than you. As long as you’re against someone your height you’re good to go. Luckily for me, I don’t encounter many people my height so I haven’t been in a lot of fights in my life. Only against my little brother. But you know… Brotherhood… I’ll keep the story of how he lost his fingertip due to losing at Street Fighter on Super Nintendo for another time.

Anyway. I digress.

This fight was against something 1-5 µm long by 1-2 µm wide. I have no clue what that means, but I’ll let you Google it. That’s where I found the info.

Me VS Leishmaniasis

The fight began mid-April when I realized that I had a wound that wouldn’t heal. I didn’t really take it seriously until my wife told me that she thought she had Leishmaniasis and that she wanted to get tested.

Oh, and we had a couple of friends that have had it as well recently which may have hinted that something may be looking bad for us.

What is Leishmaniasis?

Leishmaniasis is a disease caused by the leishmania parasite which is transmitted by a sandfly.

It’s one of the many fun tropical diseases we have here. Dengue, COVID-19, and many more. Life in the tropics is fun.

Leishmaniasis, however, is not painful. You usually don’t even notice it at the beginning as it resembles a normal wound. However, this wound is the home of a lovely parasite that has decided to co-live with you and share your flesh with you. Yes, it eats your flesh and grows while you look at it daily asking him, gently (or not), to leave.

Leishmaniasis is tenacious. Once it has picked its home, ie. your flesh, it is very difficult to get rid of. It will make itself cozy and start eating you the same way you eat that bag of chips once you open it.

Luckily for us, our beautiful town of Puerto Viejo is home to hundreds of beautiful souls that have a cure for you. Yes, as it’s pretty common here, there are as many remedies as there are people.

“Natural” remedies range from medicinal plants that grow locally, to your commonly found refined white sugar. Battery acid may also work I heard, but I haven’t had the chance to try it yet. Maybe next time.

I’ve started with a small selection of them. I’m the kind of guy that likes to have a taste of the various options available rather than sticking to one. That probably didn’t help, but you know when someone offers you the newest remedy on the market you’re hit with that shiny object syndrome.

Round 1 – Black Salve

One of our neighbors, Thomas (yes we share the same name, hence the reason why I’ve picked his remedy over the 100s available to me), said that he cured his using black salve. Black salve is an alternative cancer treatment that destroys skin tissues. By destroying your skin you may (or not) kill your dear friend. That somehow sounded appealing to me.

The trick is to clean your wound and apply a thin layer of black salve to it. Then all you have to do is wait a week with the magic cream on it and healed you shall be.

However, my parasite decided to create an alliance with the black salve and use it to expand his territory. After 5 days and filled with a lot of curiosity about whether I was cured or not, I’ve decided to remove the bandaid and take a glimpse at the situation.

Black salve on Leishmaniasis
Black Crust after applying black salve
Black salve not working on my leishmaniasis
A new modern loft for the parasite

My wound expanded by 400% which, in that case, is not a positive outcome. However it had a black crust on it, so maybe it lost a few battles before winning the war? I was confident.

My confidence quickly disappeared though when this black crust left displaying a shiny modern parasite loft. My friend decided to have an upgraded and didn’t tell me.

I wasn’t happy. But it seemed like I was trapped. I had no word to say in this relationship.

So I decided to seek other options…

Round 2 – Beto’s Magic Powder

Me and my son
We are fighters!

I can’t reveal what’s in this powder. I don’t know. It’s a well-kept secret. Apparently it has cured dozens of people and contains a whole bunch of blended medicinal plants.

This sounded like the ultimate solution. A magic powder made out of all the medicinal plants you can find in the region. I was sold! Only $20 for a small bag. More expensive than the local white powder you can find here if you know what I’m referring to. But you shouldn’t put a price tag on health.

Here we go.

Every day. Twice a day. I would apply this powder to my wound. It’s painful. But no pain no gain. I’m strong. I can do it. Or to quote my dear friend Slimshady – You can do anything you set your mind to man!.

Now I’ve been fighting this thing for a Month already. I don’t usually get pissed of. But it is getting slightly annoying.

In between there’s a lot happening in the world, COVID-19, Trump being a dick, and Europeans being locked home. Business as usual or almost.

Round 3 – Heavy Metals

Metal is not really my thing. I’m more of an electronic guy. But you need to be open to new things. Well, metal it is.

The use of heavy Metals is the conventional cure for this disease.

The name of the drug – Glucantime.
Note: This drug is not available in the USA nor Canada. What a pity!

Yep. After all the natural stuff, I’ve decided to take a more conventional route and put some trust in western medicine.

It took me some time to consider this option. You hear so many people telling you how bad it is. How the drug will kill you. All the side effects it has…

The thing with Leishmaniasis is that there isn’t an efficient cure, one that fits all. The available cures somewhat work. But they work by putting your body under a lot of stress. By creating an environment no parasite would like to live in. Or anyone really. Heavy metals should in no normal circumstances be ingested. Except for the dozens of vaccines you get when you are born.

But I’ve reached a point where I wanted to get rid of it by any means. Actually it wasn’t really about me, it was about my 3 year-old son. He had it as well and on his nose. Natural remedies meant running behind a crying child, having the mom restraining him, while I apply the natural powder that he would remove 10 minutes later. It also meant finding some creative ways for him to accept this new paradigme that could last for months (yes, natural ways can take months to work – It’s a very slow process). Luckily for us, there is YouTube.

While the restraining and abuse of individuals might be the norm for the US police, it wasn’t our way of dealing with issues. It was mentally taxing on us, on our kid, and on our relationship. Hence the decision to go for the more evil solution. The big pharma one. But considering all the aspects of how leishmaniasis was affecting us, it didn’t sound so bad anymore.

How do you apply Glucantime?

Let me give you a glimpse into what our new routine was. It started on the 20th of May, in the public clinic in Hone Creek.

After waiting for 2 hours and going through Costa Rican administration, we managed to see a “doctor”. If we can call him so.

We arrived in the emergency room. In front of this obese doctor. He sat in front of his computer screen. His phone on the side allowing us to have some lovely ambient music. He asked us what the issue was. Leishmaniasis. How long did has it been there? Two weeks (I lied).

Then he went on a small tirade saying how irresponsible I was as a parent for not coming earlier and that my son will have a scar for live. That he might end up bullied at school because of it and that it will affect him all his life.

During this whole time, this human being didn’t even stand up to take a look at the issue. He was in front of his computer the whole time. 20 minutes later, we were part of the Glucantime tribe. Luckily for us, I was right with my diagnosis. If I told him I had cancer he would have put us on Chemo without even auscultating us.

Now we’re in for a lot of fun…

Our routine for the next 2 weeks included going every morning to the clinic, getting our drugs and having it injected in our butt cheeks. Half a dose for Elon, my son. Double dose for me.

On the first day we got our loyalty card and every day, we would check-in and get a new entry. I’m proud to say that Elon and I both finished with 20 entries. Yes. 20 days of injections.

Glucantime medicine
My loyalty card
Getting the glucantime at the clinic
Ive got loads of points. Hurray!

This went on from the 20th of May to the 12th of June for me and the 26th of June for Elon as he had some time off in between to see if it was gone or if he needed more. Of course, he did.

My new life. My new watch

My leishmaniasis scar
My new watch

Now that I’m cured, I’m back to a ‘normal’ life. If you can call anything normal right now. This fight has taught me a lot and has left me with a scar on my wrist. It’s not too bad though. It looks a bit like a watch and it’s a great icebreaker for me to use when introducing life in the tropics to people looking to live here.

Elon is fine and I don’t think this situation affected him that much. He really enjoys YouTube and going to the clinic was not difficult as he knew he would watch some videos.

However, one thing this all chapter has tought me is that things are rarely black or white, they are usually greyish (all the fifty shades of grey). We should be careful to not fall into radicalism. Whether you’re a vegan, a Trump supporter, an Apple fanboy, you shouldn’t see opposing people as enemies. They just hold a different belief system. You won’t change their opinion by telling them they are wrong. And carrying a MAGA hat everywhere you go doesn’t make you any cooler.

There’s no shame in taking a route that you would have thought impossible before and changing your opinion on things.

And you shouldn’t let other people guide your life. Follow your intuition and do what you think is best for you, your family and others.

Compassion is the key, as my dear friend Khosrow would say. Maybe he’s right. But being compassionate is hard. As long as we try, we should be all good.


Low blows during my fight and crunchy fun bits (for you)

A few things happened to me during this whole fight which will probably make you laugh. It wasn’t fun for me though.

My infected foot
Will my toe fall off?

My foot got infected. My host had 2 homes. One on my wrist and one on my foot. Having an open wound on your foot is terrible especially if your son loves going to the beach. I ended up with my foot being twice its regular size.

The nurse at the clinic. An antibiotics aficionado prescribed me the most potent antibiotic on the market. So strong that the nurse working on weekends didn’t want to be responsible for injecting it to me. I ended up not doing it and went for a normal dose instead. I almost did go for highest though as she said I could lose my toe. I have 10 so it wouldn’t have been a big deal but I didn’t want to go through another journey at the clinic.

I still suffer from side-effects of the Glucantime. It’s better though. But I sometimes get a skin rash. It got pretty bad during the treatment that it would be all over my torso and back and leaving me with an uncomfortable sensation whenever my shirt would touch my skin…

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