June 28th, 2007

Tapeworm Infection

Okay, I have some icky questions, but nothing that should squick people too much, I don't think. What my character is going to do is going to be a very, very, very bad idea, and possibly medically impossible, but I'd like to get the medicine as close as I can.

My character is a middle-aged man in the present day, a little bit overweight. He has a dream to get into the Guinness Book of World Records by having the world's longest tapeworm. To achieve his goal, he knowingly ingests a tapeworm and lets it grow in his body. He ends up in the hospital as a surgical patient, where he later dies. I need to know:

1. What kind of tapeworm does he ingest, and how does he ingest it? Broad fish tapeworm? Beef tapeworm? Pork tapeworm?

2. My guy is trying to get a tapeworm infection; he doesn't just get it from eating undercooked meat. Could he knowingly swallow eggs or preferably a small worm? Could a small worm or larva survive outside of a host for any time at all?

3. He is going to get close to record-breaking worm length, which Ripley's says is about 37 feet. How long would it take for a worm to grow that long? And what will happen to him physically? Symptoms are said to be loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea. How sick would he be?

4. In a case with a cooperative patient and smaller tapeworm(s), how would a doctor in a modern American hospital treat the patient? And here's where we get a little gross: how do the worm(s) come out of the body?

5. For my purposes, it's important that he be a surgical patient. What complications could cause the need for surgery? Bowel obstruction? Cysts? Would just the fact of the worm being so long cause extra complications?

6. He will most likely die on the operating table. What exactly is likely to kill him?

7. And here we get kind of gross again. I'd really like for him to carry around ingest-able living eggs or larva or a worm in a jar or something. Is this possible? Would you be able to see the worm or larva?

I know I'm asking weird complicated questions, so if you have any knowledge at all about tapeworms, I appreciate your thoughts on any of these questions. Or even anything else along these lines you think I should know. I have done web searches on "tapeworm," "parasite," and read the various wikipedia articles on the subjects. I have also found pretty technical articles on medical websites like eMedicine, but none of them talk about a really huge tapeworm like I need to write about. Go figure. :)

Height weight model program

I'm not sure how to google this, let alone if it exists, so please bare with me. I am terrible at visualizing things, espectiually body weight on a person. Is there a model/program out there that can help me? For instance, if I typed 160 pounds and 6' male into the program, it would show me the basic shape of the person. Now I know things wouldn't be as simple as that, since muscles is heavier etc etc, but it would at least give me an idea if I have the proper weight or if I made him too skinny or too fat for how I've pictured him. I've tried "height weight model" and "height weight program" and "height weight +program -model" but the first got me too many runway model articles and the second got me weight loss programs and the third was no help. I know there is height/weight charts that doctors use, but that just shows me the average weight at a given height, not what the character's body would look like. I don't mind downloading a program, and maybe paying a bit for it, but I don't want some huge expense or some massive memory eater program.

Thank you, for anybody who might know of a program or better search terms for me or knows I'm not gonna find something like this.