Today we are going to tell a story. A scary story in honor of Halloween being right around the corner. No ghouls or goblins but a thriller nonetheless. A story of a battle between tiny alien invaders and the host body. The vehicle of transmission, what we call People Juice. Millions upon millions of these tiny alien invaders hitched a ride on the water in this Hot Spring, where vacationers and backcountry visitors soak in day after day. After a journey of a mile or two downhill they made their way into the host. How you may ask? Well this was an instance of No Filter, Big Problem! I know already scary enough, it is okay, turn the lights back on, barricade the door, and make yourself a plate of guts and eyeballs (Spaghetti and Meatballs), knowing while this story is 100% true, it happened in the past, there is nothing to be scared of anymore, besides the horror of feeling each moment in your heart!
Every good story starts with setting the stage and introducing the characters, so transport yourself to the Olympic National Park in Washington State, and meet Constantine, a pure in heart character, but fallible in thought this day and many days before and sadly he still probably is making these decisions to this day. It was an especially long mile day for him and his hiking partners. They were climbing multiple high-alpine passes, and had many miles to go. He was lagging behind already, working through a cough and a sickness that had crept upon him a few days prior. So, when he saw what appeared to be a spring being filtered directly out of the earth, he popped his bottle out of his pack, and a No Filter, No Problem situation ensued. No break necessary to filter the water, he was going to drink it straight, the earth was filtering it, no need for an extra filter. Unbeknownst to him, millions upon millions of tiny alien invaders had just entered his body. This is where the story begins...
Millions upon millions of tiny alien eggs inside of our hero's stomach. He had been infected!
(Actual representation of Cryptosporidium)
After leaving the area that would be come to be known later in his life as the Contamination Zone, he began his ascent up multiple switchbacks. The tiny aliens had also began their ascent and attack of his body, slowly at first to not raise any alarm. As the switchbacks continued, a sign appeared out of the mist. Like a ghoul materializing, a sense of dread washed upon him. Getting closer to the sign, he began to make out objects around this battered sign in the woods. There was a discarded pair of underwear, little pieces of trash, and signs of much human activity. Disgusted at this blatant disrespect to the environment, he grimaced and chalked it up to irresponsible people. Yet, a question remained with him, why a pair of underwear, and why were they wet?! Thus began his journey towards the Hot Zone.
The worry begins here..... Was really hoping the Hot Springs C.G. was just a name.....
Pondering this question as the switchbacks continued, he began to feel more and more uneasy. These switchbacks had never lead away from the water source he had taken a drink from earlier. The trail had stayed almost purely above it, crossing its source multiple times. This did not sit well with him, the tiny aliens in his body may have been having a comfortable ride, but not so for him. Yet, he had drank questionable sources before, he needed to focus and catch up to his friends. So, putting his head down he began powering up the switchbacks until the next sign stopped him dead in his tracks. The lettering was faded, yet he could still make out the words Hot Springs with an arrow. The sense of unease and dread that he had began to dismiss, came back with a powerful vengeance. Hopefully, it would lead away from the trail, so hesitantly stepping upon this path he decided to go investigate. What he would find would lead him down a path of despair.
As the leaves crunched underneath his shoes, the little aliens in his body were crunching upon his stomach tissue. Eating anything and everything they could get their microscopic teeth upon. They had began to multiply from this feeding frenzy, millions turned into billions, and his stomach contents were now almost purely of an alien origin. He crested the Hill of Sorrow, and his gaze took in the scene before him. It was a Hot Springs, multiple people were bathing in it, and it was feeding, just as the aliens were feeding on him, an outward stream. His body began to shake not from the cold, but from the deeper fear within him. He now knew why there was a dirty pair of drawers at the trailhead, this was a bathing place for everyone to come to. Not only that but this water source was what had fed his, No Filter No Problem, drink from a few hours ago. He gagged physically as well as mentally, as he realized he had drank a concoction of People Juice. All the juices that are sweated out in a hot spring, all the dirt that accumulated throughout the day, every dead skin cell that festered and grew in this perfect breeding ground of heat for bacteria. People Soup, People Juice, whatever you want to call it, he knew he had made a deadly mistake.
The Culprit!!! Please do not make us think about the WHY behind why someone would leave what appears a perfectly good pair of underwear outside the Hot Spring. Just more additions to the People Juice.... let us live in our ignorance of what exactly that entails...
There was nothing to do though, the contamination was already in him, the aliens were breeding and multiplying, still unbeknownst to him, he was one of the infected. Finally, catching up to his friends he unfolded the story of his drinking of People Juice. The faces around him were a mix of disgust, sympathy, and even laughter. They told him he would be fine, or not, nothing to do but continue on. As we said, the main character is a simple character, while pure in heart, fallible in thought, so he joined in the laughter and pushed the thought out of his mind.
The next (2) days were uneventful outwardly for him, but inside him the aliens continued their party. Celebrating such a comfortable host, they began to take him apart piece by piece. A microscopic dissection of what he held most dear. As the party continued the first signs began, the aliens made their presence now known. They had enough food, they had enough numbers, they had a strong enough hold within him, they outwardly laughed now and showed their hand. He began to sweat profusely more, a cough continued to rattle his body, snot and bodily fluids ran down his face, a chill from fear and from his body would attack him throughout the day. The fight had begun.
Literally, ringing out the shirt from sweat... Literal pools of water... The fight is on!
He now knew he was infected, he knew the source, he did not know the battle to come though. The first stages he fought with a bravery, that we salute to this day, yet nothing could prepare him for the renewed assault that would traverse every fiber of his body. After realizing the first assault would not fell him, the aliens tried another tactic. This time they evacuated every part of his body what felt like every second and every step of the day. No longer purely focusing their takeover of his body from the waist up, their new assault technique was a shot below the belt. He would have to run and take cover almost every minute as he continued this battle every mile. His supplies were dwindling, a man can only pack out so much TP! Yet, he refused to submit, the end was near, he would overcome.
His battle strategy was that he had begun to try and starve the aliens out, limiting his consumption to a bite of food each day and a sip of water. If there was no feeding they would find a different host. He had noticed any time he fed himself, he was feeding the aliens, and they were voicing this pleasure with renewed strength in their assaults'. A sip of water would rack his body with extreme discomfort as the aliens celebrated more life-giving supplements. A person needs water and food to survive, but so did the aliens. He began walking a very tight line, each piece of his body clenched, some more so than others, as he needed to only give himself and thus the aliens minimal sustenance. His energy waivered, he had been running off of tiny sips of water and a bite of food each day, but he held strong against his alien invaders. It was his body and he would reclaim it!
That water is quite yellow.... Yes this was filtered.... Sometimes it can be the unassuming water that tricks you!
After the 4th day, he was a sad sight to see. Already emaciated and below healthy weight from regularly hiking extreme terrain for close to two months, the last four days had taken from him every last ounce of insulation. He floated upon the ground, detached from himself and the world, the only reality was the battle that raged on. A strong breeze would have knocked our hero over, and a stray branch that fell upon him would have held him down. Gaunt, hollow and pale, the aliens had taken a heavy toll. During the nights, when the human body repairs and resets, instead he would continue his war. No reprieve, no rest, only agony met him at every turn. He shared a tent with his hiking partner, and as not to disturb them would in the middle of the night bring his fight outside as he continued to try and rid himself of his enemies. Coming back in after an especially long battle, where he believed he had successfully evacuated billions of these tiny aliens, he wondered if he had anything left to give. This was the darkest point for him, 4 days in and no end in sight, besides the back-end of himself that he had become quite familiar with over the course of this war. He had not fed them, not watered them, and yet there seemed an endless amount that would replenish themselves after he had valiantly and violently purged billions almost every minute. Laying his head down upon the pillow of clothes that stank of a sweat infused with despair and dismay, our hero knew the battle would continue in a few minutes, and only asked himself and any power that be, for him to have the energy to continue this war.
After an especially grueling battle, where both parties lost so much..... The look in his eyes of sheer pain is haunting....
The 5th day, and the last day of trail, was when the tides finally turned. His alien invaders were not multiplying as quickly as before, they could not keep up with the frequency with which he was filling holes upon holes up with massive piles of their dead. Until there was only one battle left, one last fight, simple in comparison to all that these two warring sides had done. A burst of power and ferocity one last time from his old enemy, and it was over. The final aliens had left his body, they lay slain below his feet. The smell of his final victory was not a sweet one. He had been a host to billions of aliens for almost 5 full days now, and he felt empty inside. Without their presence there was not only holes upon the ground, but holes upon his heart. At what cost did his life truly matter more than billions of tiny aliens? At what cost to his sanity did he have to bury mounds upon mounds of their dead, day after day, minute after minute? Pieces of him lay scattered throughout the landscape, giving life to the earth, but taking away life from himself. He was only a shell of what he had been before, a sense of emptiness and hollowness were the only echoes he heard.
Nothing was left inside.... the tiny aliens had depleted so much!
This is how the story ends. We leave our character at the end of his fight, having won the battle, but still not knowing the outcome of the inner war. The tiny aliens were gone, the physical enemy was vanquished time and time again, but they took parts of him that could never be replaced. When we talked to him last, he said that cake filled the hole that was left, but we could feel the pain still in his voice. He was using laughter to distract himself and us from the sense of loss he still felt. Our pure of heart but fallible in thought hero, while overcoming much, lost more.
Looks like a painting, but is is Crypto! Click the the picture or the link below to read more.
P:S: This story was about the disease Cryptosporidium or Crypto for short. It is a water-borne parasitic disease that, while we playfully created a story around here, can be serious. It depletes your body of many electrolytes and can lead to severe situations. This is a true story of when we experienced Crypto, and what we did that worked for us, may not work for everyone. In fact it probably is not the safest approach at all. Your body is already depleted of so many nutrients and supplements, that depriving it more could be unwise. There is no direct cure for Crypto, there are supplements that doctors can prescribe to help "treat" it as it works its way through your body, but for the most part it has to just run itself out naturally. Since our author did not have access to supplements, he took a strategy that he thought worked the best for him, if the situation had changed, necessary steps would have been taken for safety. Like I said we joke around this, but it is a very unpleasant and sometimes serious sickness, so take what you will from our story and our extra warning here, it is not something that is a fun experience. We included a link below to the Wikipage to read up more on the disease itself. Stay safe!