A PICTURE OF MY TOE IN BELIZE
I woke up on Sunday October 18th, and noticed something different about the skin on my right foot. It had the texture of a jelly fish: squishy and inflamed.
It was our last morning in Hopkins Village after a week of volunteering in the Mayan Village of Red Bank.
During breakfast, I raised my foot above the table and pointed, “Look at this,” to all eleven nurses from our group. All eyes were staring at my foot, and at that moment, I relished the attention, like a woman showing off her engagement ring.
The nurses took a brief look and asked me, “What’s that?”
Since no one came up with an answer, I ignored my foot as much as possible, until I noticed bubbles mounting to the surface of one toe.
The nurses returned to California, while I flew to Ambergris Caye, to revisit the island where our family lived for one year. My husband met me there for a few vacation days.
Back on the island, I recognized expats driving around in their golf carts. Duke and I decided to have a drink at the Palapa Bar, a famous bar hovering over the Caribbean where you can look down at schools of fish. I saw nurse Laura sitting on a barstool chit-chatting with another couple. Their eyes were full of hope and excitement about the possibilities of living on the island. They asked Laura the same questions Duke and I had asked when we also fell in love with Ambergris Caye, in 2003.
Now was my chance to get help for my toe. I pulled my foot out of my flip-flop and stuck it under Laura’s face. “Remember me?” I said.
“You’re Sonia right?” she said.
“What do you think this is?” I asked, as though no time had gone by since our last neighborhood watch meeting at the Palapa Bar, on Saturdays.
“A worm,” she said. “You need six Mintezol pills, two a day for three days.”
“Any side-effects?” I asked.
“Not really. If you get a few extra pills, you can crush half a pill, mix it with a few drops of water and stir into a paste. Rub the paste directly onto the skin. Ask the pharmacy in town. They have Mintezol.”
Relieved but freaked out to have a worm in my toe, Duke and I drove our electric golf cart to town. I wanted to kill the worm immediately. What if there were several worms reproducing inside my toe and they started crawling around my body? I had visions of tape worms and never getting rid of them.
Duke stopped the golf cart at a local pharmacy. I’d forgotten how easy it was to get certain medication without a prescription. The sales lady picked up a large white plastic container and scooped out 8 pills; two extra for crushing.
“That’s 25 cents a pill,” she said.
I gave her $2.00 Belize dollars, which is the equivalent of $1.00 U.S. dollar.
The pills had horrible side effects. I had nausea and dizziness and almost refused to take the last two, but Duke forced me to. Besides, I didn’t just want to half-kill the worm; I wanted to slaughter it.
On the fourth day, I stood in my shower back in California and screamed with joy and disgust.
“Duke I just gave birth to a few worms.”
The skin popped open and I performed a mini C-section of my toe.
No more babies or worms for me, at least I hope not.
Have any of you had this experience from your travels?
Have you tried Mintezol? What was it like for you?
OMG! You are like your own version of the movie Alien! :o) SCARY stuff!
'I just gave birth to a few worms' LOL! Sorry but that sounds so funny!
Seriously – good that it's over!
I've never experienced giving birth to any kind of worms! 🙂
Have a grate day!
The pale observer says
Hi Sonia – this is common in West Africa where I live too. Maybe all along the equator?
It is caused by a tumbu fly that lays it's eggs in a wet fabric which comes into contact with your skin while damp. This is why we have EVERYTHING that's been out on the clothes line ironed – even sheets and underwear.
I've had many friends who got a bunch of them erupting on their bums (from damp underwear?) and foreheads (from damp caps)…
Anyway it is definitely revolting, disgusting but also liberating to get rid of them!!! I've never heard of the pills. I'm sure here they only use a topical treatment that basically smothers the worm so that he pops out…
Lovely souvenir!! 🙁
Elizabeth Bradley says
You poor thing. Ew!
My husband travels around the world and he's come home with all sorts of "fun" parasites, no worms that we know of though. One time he returned from India and different parts of his face would spontaneously puff up all huge and distorted, (very weird). Sometimes the doctor's can figure out what he had, other times they just pump him full of antibiotics and hoped for the best. He's careful too. The only thing I've come home with is Montezuma's revenge, from Mexico City.
Oh yikes! Never have even heard of worms in your toes. Hope you don't have any scarring from it. Sounds like you didn't have to wonder very long about it and that there was a med for it available. Thank goodness for that!
Patricia Stoltey says
You are awesome — you took a totally horrid situation and turned it into a funny and entertaining post. Good job! (I'm still chuckling and going, "Eeewwww.")
Pop and Ice says
Ick. Oh just ick. But if that's all you brought back with you, then I'd say you did alright.
Actually, Sonia, I can one-up you on this one. I came home from Haiti having picked up a tape worm. I too took medicine, and the worm came out–all 12 inches of it. I will spare you the details of how it came out, but let's just say it was not a C-section. The joys of living and traveling in the tropics!
I'm so glad you liberated those little buggers. You lived there for a year and never got the "worms" and then go back for a week and they find you. Go figure.
Great job of turning icky into funny, even though it wasn't so fun for you.
Gramma Ann says
Oh My Goodness, that is just so gross! Yuck!! Yuck and Yuck again…. I hope the wormies are going and never return….
Miss Footloose says
Sonia, you sure grossed out a number of your readers! 😉 I've lived in the tropics for years in Indonesia and Africa, but never had worms. Parasites and amoebas, yes, and malaria once while I was pregnant.
Very impressive, that toe! Great story!
I had to laugh at the 'I gave birth to some worms!'
I had worms – TWICE – living in my stomach for many years before finally getting rid of them!
Lauri Kubuitsile says
Miss Footloose- malaria when your pregnant is so dangerous. Gosh you were lucky. There was a British couple here and the wife was pregnant and got cerbral malaria and was dead within 24 hours.
Yuck and double yuck on the wormy toe. Glad it got sorted out though. I'm lucky here as it is pretty dry so we son't get a lot of these things. The dogs, especially when they're puppies, get that worm from the tumbu like fly. Those worms are really yucky- big and fat and you must squeeze them out.
Sonia, poor gal–certainly not the kind of 'souvenirs' you want to bring home from Belize!
So glad to hear all is well now.
My husband has professional camera gear for movies, I should get another worm and do it all over again.
There was no anesthesia either!
@The pale observer
I'm not quite sure if that's what I had as they say it's from dog faeces. Although my mom did have worms coming out of her armpits when she lived in Nigeria.
Poor husband. I could just see his face puff up and down.
I'm glad and surprised you didn't have this living in a tropical climate too.
Thanks for the compliment.
@Pop and Ice
No one else but me got a souvenir.
That is a better story. How long before you knew you had a tape worm?
Yes, strange that it happened during 11 days there, but not during our one year there.
I've said my "goodbyes."
I thought malaria was tough to get rid of. My dad had it for many years after we returned from Nigeria.
Poor you. Did they make you remain skinny?
Now I can come and visit you. No worms.
That is so true. Prefer a bedspread, bracelet, or other souvenir.
Its real common to get worms in your feet in Paraguay, but most people pick them out with a needle. My husband got them, but I was careful to keep my covered so I would not get them! I even wore slippers in the house, I don't think I ever really went barefoot.
Jungle Mom says
LOL! That picture made me laugh! I know that species all too well. I must have given birth to hundreds of those, and my children even more. I once had one embedded under my toenail and had to rip the nail off to get to it.
My Three Sons says
Wow. I have never heard of that. Did it hurt when they finally came out of your skin or was it a release of pain from the inflamation?
I think I would be like you and be freaking out as well.
It is very interesting for me to read this post. Thanx for it. I like such topics and everything that is connected to this matter. I definitely want to read a bit more on that blog soon.
Pretty cool place you've got here. Thanx for it. I like such topics and anything connected to them. I definitely want to read a bit more on that blog soon.
Hey thanks for your post, I currently have one in my foot got it on the beach in Tulum, it has moved around for a couple of days until i noticed it, Went to the doctor and he gave me albendazol. today was my third day so Ill see if it dies already… If not Ill try the mintezol.
Good luck. Does the medicine make you feel nauseous? Mintezol did for me.
Anne Schroeder says
My son-in-law got a botfly bite while on his honeymoon in Belize. Little larvae living on his cheek. They hatch very quickly. Helps to remove them with a tweezers. Sort of put a damper on the memories!
Anne Schroeder recently posted..Letter from a Fan
Gutsy Writer says
On his cheek! How horrible? Did he have to take that awful medicine that makes you feel nauseous? poor guy.