Somewhere down South while hiking, I picked up a couple of new “friends”.
Unknown to me, two parasites had found their way under the skin of my left ankle. Seeing what looked like a rash, I applied calamine lotion, assuming it was poison ivy, and never gave it a second thought.
After my Okeechobee rescue by Sandy, after spending a wonderful zero day with most of the group, Sandy noticed that the “rash” on my ankle seemed to be moving. Not growing, but moving!! There were two definite red paths going up my ankle, leaving red, raised, and itchy squiggly lines.
Knowing this wasn’t how poison ivy would act, Sandy reached out to her hiking friends. They all said I should see a doctor. I called my dermatologist, and they said they could get me in the next day if I could get to their office in Cocoa Beach, not far from Ron Jons Surf Shop. We’d learn later that several of my fellow hikers had caught a ride there for a peek at the ocean and a visit to a cultural icon. Even off the trail, we still were following similar paths!
With one look, the physician’s assistant knew just what I had: cutaneous larva migrans, caused by a pair of larval hookworm parasites. Years ago, they were common in the South, when everyone ran around barefoot. When I was a child, my mother never allowed me to go barefoot for the fear that I would get them.
Being a “rare” thing now, the PA asked if I’d mind letting the rest of the staff have a look. One by one, they filed in to see the funny red squiggly lines running up my ankle. Mom always said I was special, now here I am showing the young staff a medical issue from the past.
Here I am, now 55 years old, with my first-ever parasites. Having learned that they thrive in animal feces, I realized that sometime during my hike, I must have run across some real sh**!
Wading for several days in the swamp water, who knows what I stumbled across and smeared on my legs. Maybe it was Florida panther poop. We may not see them often, but we know that they are out there.
So with my blisters nearly healed and my cough still hanging on, now I’m taking medicine for the next three days to kill these parasites. I’m beginning to wonder if maybe I should find an indoor sport.