I can’t honestly speak for millennials and say that we all suffer from a
severe and ridiculous case of touch of hypochondria. In the midst of this Ebola scare (excuse me while I never leave my house) I thought it might be fitting to share this story. It does document the struggle of this average millennial to remain calm in the midst of adversity.
It was the weekend and I was in college and partaking in college activities. This meant, among other things, that I was headed to a party held outside in southern Georgia. It was hot. The party was in a backyard with tall grass. This means the every-present southern issue of summertime bugs.
Good God, there were bugs, everywhere, flying around, crawling around, on my arms, on my legs, biting me and annoying me. Mosquitoes seem to target certain types of people and I’ve got whatever they want. (I saw a show on the Discovery channel where a woman allowed tons of mosquitoes to bite her so that she could better study mosquitoes. I call this MY LIFE – except there’s no permission freely given and no studying afterwards. Just scratching.)
Anyway, it was hot and buggy and I was outside holding my beverage and enjoying college. It was a good night.
The next morning, I woke up scratching my legs off. I couldn’t scratch hard enough or quick enough. I was a cat and my legs were scratching posts. I wanted to roll around on a giant sheet of sandpaper.
I checked my legs out in the mirror and they were, of course, covered with bites. Great. I should probably take something for the itchiness, I thought, but then something caught my eye on my right inner thigh. It looked like… a mosquito bite magnified 50 times. It was huge. Was it getting larger right before my eyes? Was it itching? It looked different than the other ones. What was it? I turned my leg at all sorts of awkward angles to better see it.
Conclusion: Not a mosquito bite.
I then did the thing that any sane and rational person would do – I went immediately to my computer and searched the internet for pictures that looked like my bug bite.
I don’t recommend searching for pictures of bug bites because the pictures are super disturbing and some things you can never un- see. But after some gag-inducing scrolling I found a picture that was possibly a match. It looked like a bullseye.
I knew I had to be honest when I asked myself: did this look like a bullseye on my leg? Um. Yes. Close to it. Red circles. Okay. White area. Check.
So I searched bullseye bug bites and found that it was most likely caused by a tick bite. That’s gross, I thought, but not the worst thing, but as I scrolled WebMD, I saw it: it’s an indication of Lyme disease.
LYME DISEASE. OH MY GOD. I then followed step two of the rational response protocol and called my mom, and proceeded to freak out. I have Lyme disease, why did I ever go to that party, why didn’t I wear long pants, why didn’t they hand out bug spray for everyone, am I going to die, am I going to pass out?!
My mom very calmly informed me that it was most likely a mosquito bite and I needed to Chill. Out. Immediately. Where was the tick then? There would still be a tick if a tick had bitten me, she told me. It would be on your leg or maybe in your sheets. I’ll admit that there was no tick on my leg but obviously I had scratched it off. And there was no tick hidden in my bed but obviously it crawled away.
And, furthermore, what did she know? She was 400 miles away and couldn’t actually see the bite; she had no inkling of this gigantic and horrific bump on my leg. I checked it again and where I was unsure before, now I knew: it was most definitely a bullseye and I most definitely had Lyme disease.
Mom told me to go the hospital if I was that worried. (She kind of laughed while she said it. I’m sure she was thinking of another time, also while I was in college, that I was home for the summer and came down the stairs sobbing and hysterical because a spider had bitten me all over my body while I slept. It was hives.)
In my defense, I also called a friend of mine who was in the nursing program. She informed me that a bullseye from a bug bite was slightly alarming, but was probably fine. She then gave me a disclaimer that went something like: I’m not actually a nurse yet and, anyway, weren’t you at a party last night outside and don’t you tend to get a lot of mosquito bites?
I didn’t really take in that last part though, I just heard her say ‘slightly alarming’, so I knew what I had to do. I had to go to the hospital. If I went, and it was Lyme disease (which, again, I now knew it 100% was), they could possibly help.
Let me just explain that I went to school in a very small town and the local hospital was…. a small town local hospital. But there were doctors in there who would take me seriously and who would help me so I drove (about 7 minutes away) to the hospital and signed myself in to wait.
I felt extremely panicked as I watched the clock. Every second that ticked away put me in a more panicked state. I started making promises to myself – it they can stop the disease, I will never go to a party again, I will never drink again, I will never eat brownies again, and I’ll start making my bed. All the while I could feel the bite growing on my leg. I was sure by the time they called me back it would be visible through my pants.
Finally (and I mean, really, I was clearly suffering from a serious illness and should have been called back to the examination room as soon as I walked in the door) they called me back. I took off my jeans and waited for the doctor to come, look at my leg, faint, and then after being revived give me the bad news.
The doctor entered in a hurry and seemed frazzled and busy. I explained the situation in a grave voice and then showed him my leg. He looked. A long pause. He looked again.
I inhaled deeply, waiting for the bad news. Well, this leg will have to be removed, he would say, and the news cameras would roll in and film me crying, and then do an interest piece on the brave college student that fought the bug bite.
He scribbled something down on his notepad and then looked me in the face. You have a mosquito bite, he told me. You need to NOT come to the hospital for things like this. We are very busy and have patients here with real illnesses. He ripped off the piece of paper he had written on, handed it to me, and left the room.
I slowly picked up my pants. How rude! He didn’t even run any tests! He barely even looked at it and how could you not look at it since it basically covered the top part of my leg?!
I peeked at the monstrous bug bite and found that, wait a minute, it was actually quite small and, wait another minute, it was sort of itching. And, now that I thought of it, it did kind of look like my other bites.
I put on my pants and grabbed the piece of paper. As I walked out of the hospital (after paying a bunch of money I didn’t have for a doctor to spend 4 minutes with me before telling me off), I glanced down at it and saw one hastily scribbled word: Benadryl.
Since then I have had
about 794 no more freak outs.
I remember to take Benadryl (doctor’s orders!) if I’m severely itching.
And I am also completely banned from researching any sort of illness/symptom/bug bite/pain on the internet.