Sunday, August 24, 2008

Late Night Thoughts On Being Eaten Alive

I'm dying. I really am. It's two in the morning, and I'm awake, and I'm dying. Of itchiness. I bet you didn't know you could die of that, did you? I'm going to be the first one. Either that, or I'll be the first one to die of being a wimp. My ankles are on fire, my waist, my legs, everything, all because of chiggers. Last year, when I kvetched about poison ivy, I joked about thinking I had chiggars, and so finding out that it was only a plant rash made me feel better. Now I have the real thing, and I'm dying. Although I found out that chiggers don't actually lay eggs in you; that's a myth.

On Thursday we went to be historical and visited Manassas battlefield park, home to two different battles during the civil war.

Avram and I. See the cute shirt and necklace? Totally cost three dollars total for both.

One of them was the first real battle, the one where people came to for a Sunday afternoon picnic, and instead saw slaughter and destruction and the real beginning of the war. Never say you don't learn things of importance on my blog. Anyway, as part of the visit we went on a two and a half mile walk walk through fields and forest, encompassing the main area of the second battle. It was to show perspective, and give locations of major points for the men. One was a house, at the far end of the loop, that now is only a hay field next to a freeway. Another was a farm that was across a second highway, one with no pedestrian bridge over, so we had to turn back.

A Civil War Era historical field

This sounds like it was a wasted walk, but it was a very pleasant one to make, although we didn't really get a sense for anything Civil War era. Samuel pushed the girls most of the way, and Avram and I got to do crazy things like hang back, hold hands, and make light conversation. The air wasn't too hot, and we enjoyed walking through the shady woods. We talked about how my fears of being attacked by ticks kept me from enjoying the woods, and how nice it was to be out in them. Sariah, my sister-in-law early on told us that she had found lots of bugs, but we ignored her seeming sensitivity to nature. Later on she was taking off her shoes and whacking at all the bugs. Even later on she sat down on the ground, almost hysterical, and tried to get all the bugs off. At this point we finally looked down at ourselves, and saw many, many little bugs – like minuscule brown spots. They were all over my skirt.

I started screaming, then realized that we still had a half mile to walk to get back to the car, and there was nothing that I could do at that moment to get them all off. The dejected party, post bug discovery.

So I calmed down, and walked back, where I scraped off all the ones on my feet and legs, but couldn't get them off my skirt. We had planned to stop for custard on the way home, but we couldn't bear the thought of going out in that condition, and so we just bought some ice-cream at a supermarket on the way home to our showers. A shower later, with my clothes washing and everything solved, I felt much better. We had realized these were chiggers, and although I didn't enjoy the experience, I thought we would shortly look back and laugh at our “beautiful” walk.

Then yesterday morning I woke up, and I was covered with little red spots. Avram was covered as well. Some others in the family had them fairly bad, while others only ten or so. We looked it up online, and it turns out the bugs we saw yesterday actually weren't biting us – they were adult and nymph chiggers who live on plant matter. Their larvae relatives are unseen to the human eye, and they were the ones wreaking havoc with my precious body.

And now I'm dying. We did the whole nail polish thing, and it helped, but somehow it still itches anyway. Last night I started scratching, and it was an ugly vicious cycle, until I was jumping up and down and whimpering in pain and that unique uncomfortability that is an itch. I took a bath, and that helped enough to get me to sleep.

Until two am, at least – when I woke up, and exerted all the human will I possibly possess not to scratch myself to death. So now I'm writing this blog post, my greater immediate need to type keeping my hands from scratching. Self control is so hard. I want to cry like a baby. I want to be a baby, where I don't have the motor skills necessary to scratch.

I'm such a wimp. I'm throwing in the towel. I don't want to be a pioneer anymore. I'm sorry I ever expressed an interest, because I keep on being reminded by the world that no, I have no stamina. I hate ticks. I hate poision ivy. I now especially, with a deep inner hatred of things that belong in outer darkness, hate chiggers.

A lot of people don't like Utah for its climate – how dry it is, the lack of rain, the hot Summers. I know that even being from Utah, these things did bother me as well. I used to dream of living in exotic locales, like Maine, where it rained and the grass was green naturally. Now I've lived in other areas, and I want to go back. I think Utah is the promised land. I never had any ticks, or poison ivy, or chiggers there. Virginia? It's beautiful, but I think the land hates me. And I've heard that Ohio has chiggers too. I want to be brave, and not let this experience stop me from going out into nature. I want to be.

But right now I mostly want to crawl inside my apartment there and never go outside. Can you get chiggers in a city? I hope not. I often feel like a prisoner in the home here; outside is gorgeous foliage and trees, but I never go outside, because of my fears of all the bugs. I wish that I weren't a wimp and were strong. Not enough to actually get over my fears, but enough to wish it.

The funny thing is, we did get some ticks, but they weren't really a big deal at all. We caught them before they'd bitten or right when they did, so we just dealt with them and moved on to the bigger problem. It's amazing how with the right perspective I actually preferred ticks.

I've now been awake for an hour, and have had Samuel come out into the living room, with the exact same problem that I have. We talked about chiggers for a while, but now he's tried to go back to bed, and so I should also. Wish me luck, and more importantly, the ability to fall asleep without scratching. That and please attend my funeral – no need to send flowers, you can just donate to the PEF fund.


  1. Oh ow. I am so sorry! What a scenic way to meet vermin. Is it better at all yet?

  2. I think/hope it may be getting better. We've bought a whole array of formulated creams, lotions and gels to fight it, plus I'm living on Asperin, and it does help. I'm hoping that the pain will go down soon, and such.

    Although my estimate was low; based on what I've counted now, I would say between 250-300 bites.

  3. Have you tried baking soda baths? My mom would do that for us with the chicken pox...
    I hope you get better soon!

  4. yuck!! sounds just aweful and i am so sorry you are dealing with this? please tell me the girls were spared?

    i hate bugs too!! glad i am here in utah where we dont have ticks and chiggers.