Did you ever feel an itch, an itch so bad, you scratched yourself bloody to make it go away?
Well, if not, count yourself lucky, count yourself damned lucky!
I really don’t know when or where I got it, but I’m sure it was during this shit show of a vacation in Thailand.
A friend and I had saved up some of the measly money we’d earned from our student jobs and decided to treat ourselves to a brief vacation. I let the booking to my friend. I don’t know how he did it, but he could always find those ‘insider tips’ as he called them. So in the middle of January, we made our way to Thailand. The trip he’d booked promised an exclusive hotel in an area of beautiful and unclaimed nature.
What we ended up with instead was a cheap room in the middle of nowhere in an area as dirty and undeveloped as our ‘hotel’.
Still, we made the best of it and enjoyed the few days we spent there as best as we could.
Once I was back in Germany, in my cramped student apartment and the winter raging on outside, I had to admit; I missed Thailand, if only for a little.
The itch started a few days later. I’d been looking through some pictures I took of the trip when I was distracted by an itch on my chest. I didn’t think much about it. A few scratches, and it was gone again.
When I checked out my chest though, I found it covered in some weird, reddish rash. I cursed when I remembered the cheap beds we’d slept in. Great, I thought, got myself some sort of skin irritation.
After checking it out for a while though, I realized it didn’t look too bad. Just a few reddish spots on my chest. It should be gone in a few days. Hell, my skin had always been sensitive. Who knows, it might as well come from the damned new laundry detergent I’d used.
So yeah, I didn’t think too much about it.
Susan, my date a week later, did though. We’d settled in for a movie at my place and had snuggled up on the couch. By then the freaking itch had gotten worse. While she cuddled up against me, I started scratching at my chest again and again.
At first, she ignored it, but after a while, she asked what was wrong with me.
“Dunno, some skin irritation, probably an allergic reaction or something,” I told her shrugging.
“Are you sure?” she asked and inched away from me.
“What the hell, Susan, it’s nothing,” I said, laughing.
Susan didn’t laugh. She shuffled around and a hint of disgust appeared on her face.
“All right, here, see that? Just some stupid allergic reaction!”
With that, I lifted my shirt and showed her the reddish area on my chest.
“Ew,” she pressed out. “That looks like a fungal infection! What if it’s contentious! I don’t want to catch something like that!”
“What the hell are you talking about? It’s nothing like-“
But I didn’t have to go on anymore because she was already gathering her things and making her way to the front door.
“Shit, come on, it’s nothing! I swear!”
“No, it’s freaking gross! That’s what it is!”
With that, she was gone, and I was left alone with what she’d called a fungal infection.
“Great,” I cursed.
For a moment I thought about what to do before I settled back on the couch, opened a beer and continued the movie on my own.
“Never liked her that much anyway,” I lied to myself.
The next day I checked out what a fungal skin infection was. It was a skin irritation causing a reddish discoloring and accompanied by an itch. Well, fuck, guess she was right about that one. What she wasn’t right about though was it being infectious.
That same evening, after lectures were over, I made my way to our local pharmacy. It was embarrassing, but I explained that I was suffering from a fungal infection.
The pharmacist recommended a cream and a visit to my local skin doctor. For now, I bought the cream but told him I might consider a trip to the doctor.
Being the dumbass I am, I couldn’t be bothered with going to a doctor.
The cream did a whole lot of nothing. The itching continued, and after a while it grew even worse. It was so bad, I couldn’t even concentrate during my lectures. Even worse, scratching my skin didn’t seem to help much anymore. It almost felt as if the itch was coming from somewhere else, somewhere deeper.
This thought stayed with me for a while, but once I was home, I disregarded it and applied another layer of the cream.
It still didn’t help. The next two nights I didn’t get much sleep at all and finally made a doctor’s appointment. I told them I suffered from some itchy fungal infection of my skin and they scheduled an appointment earlier next week.
By that point, the itch had grown in intensity with each passing day. It almost felt like it was moving around all over my chest. It wasn’t painful, just damn fucking irritating.
When I couldn’t take it anymore, I opted for the only thing that always seemed to help: alcohol. The moment I held the open bottle of beer in my hand, I told myself I had to reevaluate my life choice. When the itch came back in full force though, I downed half the bottle.
As the evening progressed, I downed beer after beer, but the freaking itch didn’t go away. It didn’t seem to stop at all.
My hand scratched over my chest, again and again, clawing against the fabric of my shirt. When I couldn’t take it anymore, I tore it off and wandered to the bathroom to check myself in the mirror. By now the red rash or fungal infection had spread, covering at least half my chest. I saw long reddish marks all over it, which I assumed to be the scratch marks.
When the itch came up again, I vigorously scratched my skin. My fingernails tore over my skin upwards and downwards, leaving behind half-bloody trails.
And at that moment, I noticed something. Sure, most of the itchy area was covered in the reddish rash, but in some areas, it seemed to be swollen. I stared at it in disgust for a moment before I scratched over that swollen area. The itch intensified, and it almost felt like there was… something there. I scratched again and again until the skin itself tore open.
Some blood and pus leaked from the wound and then I saw a… hole. It wasn’t big, the size of a pinhead, maybe a bit larger.
I stared at it in shock, telling myself it was nothing but a pore, an enlarged one. Could they get that big though? And what had I felt under the skin there? What was that swelling?
I put down the beer, went closer to the mirror and checked out the strange hole. Oh god, I thought. For a moment it was almost as if something was… moving inside of it.
I cringed back and broke into a hot sweat.
“What the fuck,” I pressed out in fear and disgust.
Then, slowly, carefully, I put my fingers against the skin around the hole and squeezed. First gently, then harder. I waited for pus to burst from the hole, but something else did.
There was something long and thin that slithered from the hole. The moment I saw it, my hand jerked back, and I started shaking in fear.
“What the fuck!? What the absolute fuck is that?!”
I stood there, shaking, panting, hell, almost crying.
With sweaty, shaky hands, I rummaged through the drawer in my bathroom. It took me minutes until I found the small pair of tweezers I’d been looking for.
After a few deep breaths, I told myself to calm down and waited till my hands had stopped shaking.
I squeezed the hole again with the fingers of one hand while I held the tweezers in the other one, ready to pull out whatever that thing was. I still told myself it had to be some enormous blackhead that had moved due to the pressure I’d applied. There was nothing strange there, there was nothing at all.
Only moments later though, I knew it wasn’t a blackhead, and that hole wasn’t a damned enlarged pore.
The moment the whitish thing’s end slithered from my chest, I put the tweezers against it and pulled.
There are no words to describe the feeling when I pulled the thing from my skin and flesh. There was almost no pain. Instead, I felt an itch. A terrible, burning itch that seemed to originate from deep inside my chest. I watched in utter horror as I pulled bit after bit after bit of the thing out of me. There was the smallest of pops when it was out and a bit of blood and pus leaked from the hole.
When I held the wiggling, bloody worm, almost four inches long, between the tweezers I passed out.
When I woke up on the bathroom floor, the next morning I first believed that it had all been nothing but an alcohol-infused fever dream. There was no way any of this had been real!
Then I saw the tweezers and then the dead worm that lay next to them on the floor.
I cringed back and right at that moment I felt the itch again. A burning, hot itch, not on, but below my skin. When I stared at the mirror, I saw the huge reddish rash on my chest. But then, when I really looked at it, I saw the swellings. Long, swollen lines all over my chest and when I saw them I knew. I fucking knew.
When I made it to the hospital I was out of it. I screamed at the first nurse I saw that I was infected with some sort of parasite and that they were digging through my chest right as we spoke. At first, she didn’t believe me, but when I revealed my chest she called one of the doctors.
Once the doctor was done with the removal, he told me what I’d been infected with.
I had been infected by a rash on my skin, yes, but that was only part of it. The rash had n’t caused the itch, he said.
No, the dozen hookworms that had buried themselves deep into my skin had.