Erin’s Parasite Surgeries *Video*

I got worms – in my feet! Pretty sure I picked them up from an outdoor market near the beach in Tofo, Mozambique. And yes, I was wearing shoes.

After living in my feet for nearly 2 weeks, it was time for the little buggers to come out!

Surgery #1 – with a Needle

Here’s the video of my bush surgery performed by Patrick, our overland truck driver. WARNING: It’s gross!

Can’t see the video? Click on this link:

Now, I know after seeing the video you’ll have a few questions, like:

• Why did I wait 2 weeks? I opted to wait until after my mountain trek to see the gorillas, because I didn’t want to increase the risk of infection. Also, I wasn’t entirely sure what it was, until I saw the little guy emerge for air one night. Now that was truly a disturbing sight….

• Why are my feet so wrinkled? I was hiking for more than 7 hours in the Uganda rainforest. And because I fell into a massive puddle of elephant piss (but that’s a different article).

• Why did I look so happy when I had worms in my feet? I was giddy that I was about to FINALLY get rid of my worms.

• What is painful? No, I have an extremely high tolerance for pain anyway.

• How did I get the parasite? Apparently they like the really soft part of the foot – normally between the toes, but because I lotion my feet all the time, they just dove right in the soles of my feet. This is a highly unusual spot for a parasite.

Surgery #2 – with a Razor Blade

Now, only 3 days after my first, highly successful surgery, I discovered another parasite on my other foot. I had failed to notice this one because I was so pre-occupied with my first wormy friend.

At this point, I knew what it was and it had been living in my body even longer, so it really had to come out! Because I had just arrived in Lira (about 5 hours from the Ugandan capital of Kampala), I turned to another friend to perform this second surgery.

Unfortunately, this one didn’t go as well when my friend Jacob (who only has 1 eye) tried to use a razor blade to excise the worm. What happened is he cut the worm in half AND he broke the egg sack.

The egg sack burst was BAD – one does not want a bazillion parasite eggs let loose in an open wound. And severing the worm’s head was also NOT GOOD. He had to go in multiple times to try and find the head because we didn’t want it to rot in there.

At this point, I decided to return early to Kampala and seek proper medical attention, which in actuality was 4 days later. So I spent the next 4 days obsessed with the rotting head and burst egg sack. My parasites were quickly becoming a truly an Edgar Allan Poe-type of nightmare…

Proper Medical Attention

Once back in Kampala, I went to a “real” doctor, you know, one with a medical degree on tropical diseases and clean fingernails. (Although, in truth, he was wearing a Bugs Bunny tie, which doesn’t instill a huge degree in confidence.)

He looked at my wounds and said there was no need to come in. Apparently, the proper treatment is to remove the parasites at home with a needle. So bush surgery was the right decision! And there was nothing rotting in my foot = more GOOD news!

I also showed him what I thought was a spider bite on my butt, but he was “unimpressed.” (I’m sure that was just his British humor talking and he was unimpressed about the bite and not my butt…I think…). Apparently, it wasn’t even a spider bite, but a stinging caterpillar that I sat on. Who knew?!

So I’m back in fine form as I prepare to leave Africa. I’m heading out via a Trans-Atlantic crossing and can’t wait to see what’s in store for me when I land in Panama! A new region and new adventures await!

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This entry was posted on Monday, December 12th, 2011 and is filed under Erin Right Now.

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