That time I almost died

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.


Concussed Again

Do yourself a favor: never get a concussion. Seriously, they stink.

This is my second concussion. Of course this one had to come on midterm week. Well, there goes my spring break. I’m sure you’re wondering what happened. Yeah… It’s a funny story.

Let’s start with, my mom bought me these ice cleat things a few weeks ago. They’re bright green and they wrap around your shoes to help you walk on ice. I find that they actually work the few times I’ve tried them. But of course, the two times that I really needed them, I wasn’t wearing them. My fault entirely, of course.

The first time was a week or so ago when I went to see my first hockey game. It was awesome, by the way. We won. Go Flames, and all that. Anyway, I knew it was going to be a difficult trek back up the mountain to my room when my friend from North Dakoda walked out the door and slipped on the ice (Now, he claims that it was because he stepped on a sign that slipped on the ice, and that’s why he slipped. *Nods politely* Sure, sure, whatever you say). It had been freezing rain for the last two hours, so literally everything outside was covered in ice.

Side note: Have you ever experienced freezing rain? It’s like rain, but frozen. And hard.

Anyway. It had snowed earlier, and the grounds people had shoveled my sidewalks. They did not, on the other hand, salt them. For those of you who are from the South, snowy sidewalks + freezing rain = black ice. Yeah…

I had to walk back through a foot of snow because all of the sidewalks on my way back to my room were completely covered in ice. On the bright side, I called my mom along the way (because I thought, “Well, if I fall and hit my head on the sidewalk, I’d like someone to know about it), and my running commentary on the nature of ice and my deep-seated hatred of such kept her and my little sister in fits of giggled until I got back. Good for them.

I’m a Southerner, okay? We like snow, because it’s a novelty. Ice… we’re not so fond of.

That was the first time I really could have used those ice cleats. The second time was this past Friday morning. I was all ready for class that day. I didn’t make it ten feet before I found the black ice in front of my dorm. With my face. Well, technically, I found the black ice, with my feet. I found the wet concrete with my face.

And that’s how I got another concussion.

I apologize if this post has been a bit rambling. That tends to happen when you damage your brain. On the upside, since I can’t really focus on anything for longer than ten minutes, I’m going home early, and I’ll have to make up all my tests when I come back. I think that’s an upside, anyway. Can’t really tell. Brain injury, you know.

Be safe out there, everyone. And watch out for ice!

Why You Should Never Fence (With PVC Pipes)

I’m human. I’m a very clumsy human. You’d think that after 17 years, I’d have figured this fact out. Nope. Let me tell you a tale, a tale of my own clumsiness and bad judgment.

One day, at the summer camp I worked at last summer, the staff was going to play a game. This game was to be some sort of epic paintball-like capture the flag. Leadership handed us foot-long (or longer) PVC pipes and a package of Nerf darts. The idea was simple: you shoot the darts out the PVC pipes to hit someone else. The more juvenile of us (myself included) almost immediately began to shoot the darts at each other. Well, it turned out that these darts, when shot from pipes, really, really, HURT. Long story short, leadership decided to forgo the game because we didn’t have adequate eye protection.

Adequate eye protection.

Remember that part.

Since we couldn’t play the game we were supposed to, leadership decided to have a volleyball tournament in our in-door court. My team was one of the first up. While I have no doubt they would have done marvelously in the dart shooting game, alas, it was not to be so in the volleyball game. We were out quickly.

We weren’t allowed to just leave after that. We had to stay in the giant room and socialize. There were various circles of people playing with various sizes of balls. I joined a few, but I wasn’t in the mood. Suddenly, I saw one of my friends off to my right playing with a long PVC pipe.

Enter bad judgment.

I walked over to the woefully under-guarded box of PVC pipes and picked out one of the longer ones. Then, I proceeded to walk up to my friend and shout “En garde!” She looked thrilled to have someone to fight with, and I was confident in my ability to give her a good fight. What I hadn’t known before was she actually did fencing.

So, we started fencing. I like to think that I inherited a bit of skill with the sword from my dad, but quite honestly, I stunk against her. She was definitely the better fencer. When she whacked my leg and drew a tiny bit of blood, I should have known that it was a good time to stop. But I didn’t. We had been fencing for a few minute, she giving me pointers, and I not trying hard enough to pay attention. Finally, she sent a stab for my chest. Instead of blocking down, like I should have, I blocked up, and sent her pipe into my face.

My head jerked back in surprise and my hand instinctively reached up to cover the spot just above my eye. I didn’t realize what had happened until I brought my hand away and saw the blood.

Thankfully, my fencing partner had more sense than I did at the moment. She called me “Boo” and took me to the girl’s bathroom to clean up my face. We were both hoping that the nasty cut above my eyebrow would heal on its own. Once again, nope. I waited about twenty minutes and asked the advice of several people (who all told me the same thing: your eyebrow is catching the blood), before I decided to seek out the camp nurse. She seemed more worried about my boo-boo than I was. She considered taking me to get stitches before deciding to try something called Steri-strips (which are basically thin, really sticky strips of tape). It took two of these and two extra strips of medical tape (just to make sure they stayed) to hold my eyebrow together.

On the bright side, I didn’t have to get stitches. One the not-so-bright side, I was at summer camp, so I had to put up with every kid I got close to asking me what happened to my face. I usually just told them it was a sword fight and watched them walk away in awe.

You’ll probably be happy to know that I made the director ban PVC pipe fencing after that. I’m cool about it, but best not to let the campers do it.

Now I have a cool scar.

It's the pink line I circled.

It’s the pink line I circled.