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Fever, Fire & Water

I see I have some catching up to do.

Last Tuesday night I started to feel like I was coming down with something, which was not surprising since Xy and Persephone have both been under the weather. When I woke up Wednesday I was feverish, but it was a big day for me, so I took some ibuprofen carried on. I conducted a session at work and then I rode down to the Presbytère for the “Katrina 5.0” symposium.

(I will pointedly refrain from grumbling about the fact that I showed up late for the panel. I was told 7:00PM and everyone else was told 5:30. Because I came “early” I didn’t miss much. Imagine my surprise when I was ushered into a room full of people, with the panel in full swing, and one empty seat — mine. It all worked out in the end, except that I was a little disoriented. The fever didn’t help. My only real regret was I missed my chance to read a post from this blog to the audience.)

By Thursday I was feeling worse, and as it turns out my doctor doesn’t “do” Thursdays. Xy’s doctor was on vacation, but I scrounged up an appointment with one of his partners. “Can you be here in 15 minutes?” Not quite — it’s a 25 minute bike ride. But I got a prescription for a Z-pack. I slept much of the afternoon.

Friday I took Persephone to the doctor, and she got on some amoxicillin. I kept her out of daycare. Soon our old friend Sue flew into town. The three of us went out for lunch, then walked through the rain to the University for a quick (and wet) tour of campus.

That evening Xy visited a walk-in clinic. (She has a one-month gap in health insurance coverage which is wreaking havoc on us in many ways. What a system.) So now she’s on amoxicillin as well. The whole family is on antibiotics.

Next day was Rising Tide 5. This is the why Sue was visiting. The conference was excellent, as always. I’ve posted a couple dozen photos.

By Sunday I was feeling almost 100%. Before taking Sue to the airport, we decided to do a brief disaster tour. We stopped by the New Orleans Katrina Memorial, which is in our neighborhood, and bumped into some guy named Mitch Landrieu. (Sunday was the fifth anniversary of Katrina’s landfall.) We drove through Lakeview and tried to visit the lake, but what with the road construction I couldn’t figure how to get there. We visited the site of the London Avenue Canal breach in Gentilly, then headed to the Lower Ninth Ward.

It was there that I took the following picture.


Unremarkable, except for the fact that I was standing in a nest of fire ants when I took it.

And I was wearing sandals.

Now if you’re ready for a somewhat disgusting sight, here’s what my foot looked like a couple days later.

Fire Ant Stings

It actually looked worse about 24 hours after the sting. The pustules are nasty enough, but there are so many (three dozen, perhaps) that my whole foot swelled up.

And yes, this is the same foot that has suffered so many challenges. My podiatrist recently began a battery of alcohol injections to kill the enlarged nerve that’s been bothering me for the last nine months. I postponed this week’s appointment because of the stings.

In retrospect, I’m just glad Sue and Persephone didn’t get stung.

As for me, I’m recovering, but wearing shoes wasn’t really the best option for the last couple days. Now that the swelling has reduced, I made it into work for a half-day today.

Unless one is allergic, these stings pretty much heal themselves. Unfortunately it takes a long time, and they itch like the devil. The big risk is infection, so scratching is extremely ill-advised.

Fortunately there is a miracle cure of sorts, and it’s virtually free. It’s the hot water treatment. Just bathe the affected area in water, as hot as you can stand, and the itching goes away for hours. It beats any cream, salve, ointment or oral antihistamine on the market. Throw in some soap while bathing and the chance of infection is diminished. I’ve applied some antiseptics as well, to be safe.

Strangely enough I can find very little written about the hot water treatment, except for this essay by Ralph Robert Moore. He really says everything worth saying, so check it out. (The stuff about hot water is at the end.) He wrote that seven years ago. I remember finding it five years ago after Xy and I got some nasty chigger bites in Indiana. There are more health and first-aid resources on the net than ever, and yet still the hot water treatment is largely ignored. What’s going on here?

Published inBodyFriendsKatrina


  1. Your feet are a disgusting sight… and with the antbites on top, well– suffice it to say you just saved me some money on lunch.

    Just kidding– you were a trooper at RT, and I’m glad you found an effective, easy treatment for the unfortunate bites.

    I hate to ask, but in the interest of Youtube celebrity, and a chance on Tosh, did anyone happen to film your reaction to the antbites?

    This old Tim Robbins clip just doesnt do it for me anymore.

  2. Andrea Garland Andrea Garland

    A timely post as my husband stepped in a nest of fire ants while weedwhacking yesterday and didn’t realize it until way too late… he’s a bit stubborn about trying things, but hopefully I’ve got him talked into the hot water (I know, sounds silly that he’d be stubborn about hot water…!). Hope your bites are doing better!

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