We’ve been thinking about worms a lot more lately than we have before – not because we have an exploring, toddling boy who is fascinated by bugs and lizards (or “izards,” as he calls them) but because they seem to keep popping up in us and around us.
It started with the mango worm incidents. We’ve noted before that during rainy season in tropical climates, these little eggs seem to like to nest themselves in wet clothing and, if clothes aren’t ironed, thrown in the dryer for a few minutes (Heat kills them.) or left to sit for several days (Apparently time does, too.), the eggs can burrow themselves into one’s skin, where they will decide that your body is a cozy place to live and proceed to grow into little worms. (Well, I suppose if I’m going to be all scientific, mango worms are actually flies, thus making the “worms” technically maggots, but really, it’s gross enough to think of worms having an incubation party under your skin without adding to the drama and calling them maggots.)
You don’t notice a thing during this stage (even when you’re paranoid because everyone else in your family has gotten mango worms and you’re looking at every scratch, bump and itch as a possible Mango Worm Entry Point). It’s not until a few days later when you begin to notice a painful, itchy bump on your skin. By this point, the worm that has previously feasted beneath the surface without breathing has gotten old enough that it wants to taste of the good life outside your body and begins to stick its head out to breathe.
The solution, so we’ve been told, is to smother the bump with Vaseline and suffocate the thing, forcing it to come to the surface to breathe. Once it’s worked its way to the surface, you can pop the sucker out like a bursting pimple. This usually takes several rounds of Vaesline, as we discovered, and some of the worms are more stubborn than others. Poor Judah’s worm was quite a hard guy to get out, and Judah was screaming in anguish as it was forced out of him. Chris’s came out fairly easily, as did one of mine. (Yes, that’s right: Two of these nasty things decided to take up residence in me, probably because they know that I am disgusted by all things Maggoty, not to mention the fact that I am a Pain Wimp.) The other of mine, however, was determined not to leave without a fight, and apparently was willing to sacrifice its life just to make mine more difficult, so it split in two. Oh, but we still won, albeit with the extraction of the head on day #1, followed by the rest of the (by this point completely rotted and blackened) body on day #2.
We’re not entirely sure how we got these nasty little burrowing creatures, but I suspect they might have come from a hotel we stayed at in Abuja. A year and a half with no evidence of mango worms, a year and a half of me cautiously drying or ironing everything, and one night in a hotel, after which all three of us suddenly get them…. Hmmm. Now I don’t want to be accusatory, but you do the math….
Anyway, victory was ours, and we were all finally worm-free – a little more paranoid about every bump after that, and a lot itchier for days following, but worm free.
…Well, mostly. Until people started commenting that Judah ate an awful lot, and my, isn’t his belly quite swollen? We disregarded the comments initially – after all, he’s a growing toddler, and growing toddlers eat, and growing toddlers have cute little bellies, right? We began to notice, though, that he didn’t just eat a lot – he ate a L-O-T!!!!!!!!!!! – and his belly wasn’t just all cute and toddler-y; it was also rather hard, another sign, apparently, of internal worms sharing Judah’s food and living parasitically off the food I slaved over, darn it! Mooch! We began joking that the money we spent in feeding the worm could’ve given Judah a substantial start on his college education and asking Judah at dinner if he and his worm enjoyed the food that night.
So we finally gave him a de-worming treatment last week, and at long last, his belly swelling seems to be going down, along with his appetite (Exception: Carbs and cheese. A guy after his momma’s heart.). One more treatment to go to be sure, but all in all, looks like we’re back to our worm free lifestyle.