You guys know I’m clumsy, and a lot of the time, I injure myself by doing stupid things. That said, the events that led to this title were NOT my fault. I swear. I did absolutely nothing to bring about my own pain. Except maybe not wear shoes.
My family was down in I’m thinking South Carolina at this time. We’d gone camping at a lake back when we still had a boat. And went camping. Man, I miss camping….
Anyway. My sister and I had gone down to the beach. We spent a while there before coming back for food. My parents had made hotdogs if I remember correctly. It was a few years ago, and I’ve have a few brain injuries since then, so I don’t remember everything clearly.
However, the one thing I DO remember was the feel of the little ant that bit my foot while I was using the hose to wash the sand off my feet. I can still feel that little bugger on the top of my left foot just below the ankle. I don’t remember if it was a fire ant or not, but man, it sure hurt like fire.
I was immediately distracted from the pain by the offering of juice and hotdogs. I thought that was the end of it. As you’ve read the title, you probably realize it wasn’t.
A few days later, back at home, I stared at the little red bite mark on my foot. Rather than fade, like most bug bites do, it had grown and was branching out. I playfully pointed it out to my mom, joking, “Hey, it looks like a stingray.” Indeed, the angry red mark had grown a tail that was creeping its way down to my big toe.
My mom looked at it and, in a rather uncharacteristic move for her, did not immediately rush me to the urgent care down the street. She rubbed some antibiotic ointment on top of it, remarking on how warm it was, and we soon forgot about it.
I was fine, apparently. The mark faded over time and eventually stopped hurting. The only odd thing was that every time my foot got warm, say by spending time in shoes or taking a shower, my little stingray came back. I was fascinated by it, but again, thought nothing of it.
It wasn’t until I went to a routine doctor’s appointment months later that I realized just how lucky I was. I had been wearing shoes at the time, and when I took them off, I noticed my stingray was back. On a lark, I decided to point it out to the doctor.
He was… quite alarmed. He asked how long I’d had it. I told him a few months, and he visibly relaxed and looked a little perplexed. He told me and my surprised mom that it was something called lymphangitis.
Simply enough, it’s an infection of the lymph vessels. The infection had spread a short distance down my foot, which was what caused the tail of my “stingray.” Left untreated, like we did, it often becomes a very serious condition and can kill people. Wikipedia says that people with lymphangitis should immediately be hospitalized and watched closely. I did neither.
At the very least, it should have been a lot worse. My doctor said I’d probably be fine, and (obviously) I was. To this day, I have no idea why it never spread anywhere else. I have no clue why it went away, other than maybe, against all evidence, I am just really lucky.
So yeah, the title is a little bit of an over-statement, but only a little one. *Winks*
And if you’re curious, yes, years later, the spot still comes back if my foot gets warm enough, although now it’s so faded it just kinda looks like a tiny bruise.
What about you? Any medical horror stories to share? Let me know in the comments.