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New Friends

This weekend I said goodbye (for now) to some of the most adventurous, loving, and supportive people I have ever had the privilege of calling my friends. It sank in more and more as each group headed off to the airport that I will never again be in a house filled with my strange 15-member Ghana family.

Tonight Julianne, Daryl and I watched Kelly and Conor drive away. Now the three of us have one last week to represent the Ducks in Ghana. Don’t worry guys we won’t let you down.

It seemed Ghana wanted to make sure I wasn’t too lonely without the rest of my family here and so today I was introduced to some new friends.

Let me start at the beginning. For about a week now all my roommates have had to put up with my loud complaining that there was something wrong with my feet. At first I thought I was having an allergic reaction to the many mosquito bites decorating my toes. Then as the red splotchy patches spread I thought maybe the bites had become infected and started slathering on the antibiotic cream. (Thank you Sista Leslie for your generous contribution to my foot health.)

Saturday morning my feet started hurting. What began as an uncomfortable itch turned into a wicked stabbing pain running from my toes to the ball of my foot. By Sunday I dipped into my supply of cipro, bandaged my foot and searched WebMD for any logical reasons for the pain.

This morning the pain had spread, and in addition to the patches on the top of my toes there was a hard twisty (and ouchy) line running from the base of my toes to middle of the sole of both my feet. Today I gave up on playing doctor and decided to go to the hospital.

I was honestly terrified. Would the doctors be able to see me? Would they know what was going on with my foot? Is it serious? What if they had to amputate my toes? What outfits can I match with a peg leg? What if I was going to die? If it had not been for the calm support from Daryl and Julianne I am not sure I would have kept it together.

We taxied to the hospital, which from the outside looked more like a mission building, and walked into the reception area. The inside of the hospital is an open courtyard with a small pharmacy and billing department on one end, the check in a filing station on the opposite,e and a long line of doors labeled “Exam Room” running in between.

I stepped in the ‘new patient’ line and gave my name, phone number, address, age and religion to the man behind the bared window. Yes, religion went into my vital health record. I am ashamed to say I put down Christian out of fear that agnostic or spiritual would be confusing and perhaps get me poorer service.

After that I filed over to the payment counter and paid my GH20 (equivalent to $10) for the exam I was about to receive. A nurse in the reception area took my blood pressure and temperature then told me to sit by ‘Exam Room 2’ and wait for my name to be called. Still no one had asked me why I was there.

I nervously sat outside waiting to hear my name. I passed the time by talking with Daryl and Julianne, who had graciously joined me for the adventure, and made funny faces at a baby sitting to my right. After about 45 minutes I was called back into the room.

A young man in a button down shirt and slacks sat behind a desk that took up the majority of the small and somewhat dingy room. The nurse directed me to a seat by the side of the desk, facing the man, who I learned was the doctor. He asked me what was wrong and I told him my long-winded story about my foot.

He put on latex gloves and gently examined my foot. He wrote something down in the file and pulled out his cell phone to make a call.

“Yes, I need a second opinion. Where can I find you, please?” he smiled and hung up the phone and turned to me. “The Doctor I called will be here shortly, please wait outside and I will call you when she is here.”

I asked him what he thought was going on with my foot. He calmly looked at me and said, “Larvae migrans. Please, we can talk about it when the other doctor gets here.”

I thanked him and stepped outside to my two friends who were eagerly awaiting the verdict. We squealed and laughed at the extreme grossness of the prospect of worms living in the bottom of my feet and wriggling in between my toes underneath my skin.

The second opinion came and confirmed. Cutaneous Larvae Migrans. In a nutshell I stepped in grass that had some larvae in it who hitched a ride on my foot. They grew up to be big worms that now call my feet home sweet home.

Some of you might recognize them as hookworms. And as the daughter of a veterinarian I want to tell you that these little guys live in the U.S., and love to use your beloved Sparky as a home. So please put your pets on a parasite prevention!

The good news: very easily treatable. I have already taken my first dose of dewormer. Sayonara wormies!

The bad news: it hurts and OMIGOSH THIS IS SO GROSS! Every time I look down and see the inflammation in long curling strands down my feet I want to assume the fetal position.

So thank you Ghana, for my new friends. Personally, I much prefer my old ones.