"Okay, doc, thanks for the lesson. But how do I get rid of it?" I was already entertaining dramatic fantasies. I visualized the tapeworm securely hooked at the bottom of my throat using the spiny little stabbing things they had, its mouth ajar, and every time I ate, it ate; I drank, it swallowed; when I got caught in the rain, it stayed dry.

My doctor handed me a prescription for a single pill. Take it in the morning on an empty stomach, he said. This pill would kill the head of the beast, which needed doing since if the head wasn't killed, the tapeworm would continue growing and flourishing, and possibly with time begin making menu demands.

I headed directly to the pharmacist, purchased the pill, took it home, created an altar, placed it there and worshipped it for forty-five minutes as the answer to all my dreams and prayers. "Oh mighty pill, death to the demon residing within..."

Next morning I popped out of bed, got myself a glass of water, removed the pill from its altar cushion, placed it on my tongue, closed my eyes, and swallowed, declaring, "Take that, monster of the deep! You neverending strand of unspooling spaghetti!" I smacked my lips and thought that was that.

It wasn't.