Cooties from Paradise


IMG_9845I was planning to write a blog about Man Flu – She’s Sick; He’s Sick(er), but something happened and I need to write it out. Katie has cooties.

You may remember the blog I wrote about lice. She doesn’t have those cooties. But she has cooties of the foot variety, so this child is literally a lemon from head to toe. I love her, but lord help me.

We had this amazing trip to this beautiful resort in Antigua. Left the day after Christmas, which made me feel like we were criminals escaping town as I left my house a total disaster with wrapping paper and slippers all over the place. We left the dogs home and my parents in charge which also meant that I had given them my house to “watch” when it resembled a DMZ that had been condemned. But my mom was wearing her halo and she started cleaning dishes and never complained. And I went off wearing my crown and parked my butt on a lounge chair. We were all loungey to the extreme. We started keeping track of who was reading the most pages while we were on vacation. Katie had over 1000, I was close with 900 something, Alex kicked both our butts with over 2000. That boy can read. Brian read 75. He’s slow. We like him anyway.

Sometime on New Years Eve my mom texts me that Nicky, who Brian has re-named El Chapo (as opposed to Gryffin, El Gordo), has goopy eyes. Stupid dog. Get sick on a holiday / weekend. It will have to wait til we are home, and in the meantime, ah, sun, sand, alright enough with the sand. A week of this stuff everywhere and I’m ready for the cool dirty pavement of Newark. Well we get home and the dog is a disaster. He’s itched his goopy eye and both his ears and half his face until it’s all raw and crusty and gross. My vet takes one look at him, decides he needs to be sedated for it to be even examined, and I’m off to the specialist in the banjo playing section of Rt. 10. He’s a disaster. Double ear infection and his freaking face is infected too. They shave him in order to look at it and clean it up. Now he looks like a cross between the Phantom of the Opera and those sad sick puppies they put on the cans for your coins at the register. And since this dog is ill-behaved and a spaz, and his best quality is that he at least looks cute, this is hard for me to take. So for the next ten days I need to give him antibiotics, some anti inflammatory that will make him pee a lot (oh good he’ll be needy), and pour peroxide on his face and ears and then spray it with some other crap, and oh, yes, it will take weeks for him to look normal again. And in the meantime he’s going to want to rub his burnt toast ear and face against me and everything in my house. Freaking Joy.

So we have that going on. But this is a blog about Katie and HER cooties – not the dog’s crusty cooties. So what happens next?

Sunday morning Katie tells me she was bitten by a mosquito on the bottom of her foot. I look at it. Yup. That’s what it looks like. I know it’s January and not mosquito season, but it was warm enough yesterday for Brian and I to eat lunch outside on the deck (in NEW JERSEY in JANUARY), so who knows what bugs woke up. Plus, if any bug on the planet is available, it will bite Katie. She must be delicious. Thank goodness vampires aren’t a local problem. Her blood must just SING. Off she goes with Brian to a family party while I stay home with Alex so he can do homework. Then he and I play RISK. I’m annihilated. Typical.

Brian comes home and Katie is complaining it itches. I start making the wrinkly downward eyebrow look. Something is up. My mom radar is going off. I look at her feet again (which by the way are cute enough to be worthy of a foot model) and don’t like what I see. It’s not one bug bite. It’s several. On both feet. And they look connected. I itch looking at it. I get out my mom basket of super meds and creams and things and she can’t sit still. She’s her own basket of energy and nerves. We put on some fuzzy socks, Brian brings Alex wherever he’s going, and an hour later I look again. Holy mother of lord what the F. She has STRING LIKE things on her feet. It’s as if the mosquito bites have deflated and pushed through into the veins of her feet. Inside my head is a string of curse words. I am convinced Katie has picked up her own special souvenir from Antigua – a parasite.

I take a series of pictures and send them off to the doctors in the family. I have zero mom understanding that they don’t recognize a tropical parasite upon first sight when my mom fears are convinced that’s what it is. Typical doctors relying on facts. Thankfully they get me and my fears and both my brothers in law send the photos on to their doctor friends in Emergency Medicine and Infectious Disease – so there are now plenty of dirty pictures of my daughter all over random men’s cell phones. Of course, this is all on a Sunday night. Why do creatures in my house only get sick off hours? Katie and I spend much of those hours up in the middle of the night as she cries as the itching turns to pain and she is woken up by what I am convinced are nasty bugs. Or worms. Moving in her feet. Or something I want to set mom fire to.

We get an appointment by 10 a.m. Monday. I love my pediatrician’s office. I called at 9:01 and had an appointment for 59 minutes later and they apologized for the wait. Love. Then I become deflated. We are a medical marvel. I explain to Katie that you never want to be anything interesting medically. You want to be BORING. The nurse brings in her friend nurse. They take pictures for the files. The doctor is excited when I tell him we have been in Antigua and tells us that he studied this in medical school but he’s never seen it in person. The other doctor comes in and says how interesting it is. This is all BAD. Exciting is BAD. Interesting is BAD. Bugs and worms and CRAP in my daughter’s feet is BAD. The one thing? I’m right. It’s freaking parasites. Tropical Antiguan Parasites. Medically it’s called Cutaneous Larval Migrans. So if I’m translating my Latin correctly, larva moving in skin. Freaking bugs and worms, moving in my daughter’s feet. Worst mom fears, confirmed.

The good news (there is always good news) is that it’s easy to treat, and it’s not contagious. Four quick doses over two days of something so old and potent they don’t even keep it on the shelf so we need to special order it. Probably from some tropical country where this is normal. In NJ we see ear infections and strep throat. In Antigua they get this. Bugs and worms in the feet. Shoot me.

We do need to wait for the drugs. In the meantime, I am woken by my crying daughter every night, throughout the night. We rotate Advil, Tylenol, Benadryl, Cooling Cortizone Spray, Emla numbing cream, cool cloths wrapped around her feet and ice. And I rub her back and tell her stories and then in the morning I get up and pick crud off the dogs ears and then I bring Alex to get his braces and then we go pick up a shirt at the mall because after being home with Katie for three days I’ve forgotten that today is his drums performance. And tomorrow we leave for Disney. Do you think mermaids get parasites? I guess not because they don’t have any feet. But if Ariel got parasites after getting her land legs I bet you she’d say “Screw dancing and Prince Eric. I’m going back to the sea”.



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