I thought that sinking two and a half feet into the Amazon mud was a great story until last Friday.
About a week after I got back from Peru, a lump appeared on the back of my head but I didn’t think anything of it until it and my neck started to hurt a week later. I went to the doctor who had given me the Peru travel vaccines and I told him that I thought it was related to the trip. He, being an infectious diseases doctor, didn’t find anything out of the ordinary and said that I should give it two weeks and go back to see him if it didn’t clear up.
After the two weeks, it started to bleed and got infected. So I went back and he said that he saw a hole in the lump which was causing the infection and he gave me antibiotics and said if it didn’t clear up to return. Ten days later, it didn’t clear up, so I returned. I asked him if it could be a tick or a splinter or some other thing that I might have caught in Peru. I specifically recalled hitting my head on a wooden beam in Peru. He said it was unrelated and was probably a cyst and I should see a surgeon to have it excised.
Last Friday, I went to see a surgeon called Dr. White. I explained to Dr White that I was in Peru and had the best time of my life with Woodstock Union High School building a school in the Amazon Jungle. She was very impressed, saying that she was looking to go to Peru too. I also gave her my theory behind the lump. She disagreed saying it was probably an in-grown hair. Her assistant, Joe, agreed.
So, there I was laying face down on the table for an in-grown hair, as she and Joe began their procedure. First, shaving the back of my head. Next came the shot - the worst part. Then the scalpel, which I didn’t feel and then a one and half inch slit on the back of my head. All the while, Dr. White and Joe are exchanging the normal surgical phrases for several minutes. Then silence.
Joe tells Dr. White, “and you thought this was going to be a usual sub-dermal cyst removal.”
Dr. White replies by telling me, “you have something very interesting.”
I say, “really.”
She says, “You have a worm.”
I start laughing, recalling a conversation I had with my boss the day before. My boss had said, “it’s probably a worm. I saw something like that on “House.” I tell the doctor about my conversation, and she starts laughing and then Joe starts laughing. She takes the worm out, and Joe describes it to me.
“It’s about 1/2 inch long and thick in the middle.”
I reply by saying that this is so cool and will make a great story. Dr. White adds, “I’ve never seen anything like this. This is really cool.” Joe asks her if she is still thinking about going to Peru. I jump in and say that Peru is a great place and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
She stitches me up and puts a bandage on the cut and leaves the room to call my original doctor, the so-called infectious disease “specialist.” I get up and Joe shows me a bottle with the worm floating in fomaldehyde and we both start laughing. He said that it will be analyzed to determine the species. I once again reply, “This is so cool.”