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That time I had a worm in my leg

Travel isn’t everything. Sure, it’s one of my favorite hobbies (along with reading, shopping, cooking and, since recently, working out), but it doesn’t always turn out well.

I guess, with the COVID-19 pandemic raging, it’s just as well that I’m not traveling for once. Traveling can give you weird diseases, scare you half to death, or actually kill you, if you’re not careful.

Like that time I got a worm in my leg. I’d just returned from a lovely 2-week vacation in Thailand when I decided to see a dermatologist in Islamabad, where I lived at the time. I had a really itchy leg and some mild swelling. I figured a dermatologist could tell me what it was. He couldn’t. He gave me a cream and sent me on my way.

Over the next couple of weeks I kept scratching my leg, especially at night. I’d wake up with red irritated skin and a bit of swelling—each time in a slightly different place. Maybe I had bed bugs, I thought. Or maybe it was a mental thing? I’d had imaginary bed bugs before, when I was really stressed out about living in Canada.

After weeks of frequenting the dermatologist office and trying different creams and pills, I was staring at my leg one day when I suddenly realized that the swelling always had the shape of a slithering worm. And that below the swelling there appeared to be a kind of… trail. From that moment on I took pictures in the morning and the evening, documenting how the worm traveled up and down my leg.

Evidence in hand, I went back to the dermatologist. He didn’t say much but confirmed my suspicion that I had a living worm in my leg. If he was surprised, he didn’t show it. He asked me calmly if I had traveled anywhere recently. I told him I’d just come back from Thailand. That explained everything. Apparently, people get worms in their bodies all the time from lying around on Thai beaches.

The cure was simple and the matter was resolved within a week. I don’t know what happened to the worm, though. Maybe it dissolved? I choose not to think about it. Instead I like to remember the Full Moon party we attended on Koh Panhan, the cooking lesson we took in Bangkok, the street food we ate in Chiang Mai, and all the other sweet memories we made in Thailand.

But I can’t help wondering: if anyone had told me I’d get a worm in my leg in Thailand, would I have gone?



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