“For sure! That reminds me. We will be having an open studio Monday night. You can do whatever you would like, but shall I save you a spot on the pottery wheel?”
“Yes please! That sounds fun. I, admittedly, don’t have much artistic talent but I do enjoy the process.” I thought back to my various pathetic attempts at art in school.
“How is camp nursing treating you?” Barb took a sip of her wine.
“It’s is a trial.” I laughed. “Just tonight as I was walking down the road to join you here I had a camper with an odd rash. Now, as an intensive care nurse, I have seen plenty of road rash but really, I have very little bedside experience with any other rashes!”
“Ummmm…” Barb looked confused. “What’s road rash?”
“Imagine what would happen if you were wearing shorts on your motorcycle and you took a bit of a spill on the highway.” I explained as Barb responded with a look of alarm. “It’s not pretty and it’s very painful.” I said as I remembered with a shudder having to clean and dress a young man’s legs after just such an accident. It took a lot of pain medicine and sedation to complete the process.
“What did the camper’s rash look like?” Barb asked, curious.
I gave her a detailed description of Cameron’s rash on his chest and abdomen.
“I’ll bet you a peanut butter ice cream in town that it’s Swimmer’s Itch.” Barb pointed at me, looking triumphant.
“Swimmer’s Itch? What’s that?”
“Oh, some sort of parasite that burrows into your skin. It makes you itchy but otherwise is pretty much harmless. Kids get it at camp all the time. I think the only thing for it is an antihistamine to stop the itching.”
“Eww grooooooss!” I said as I pinched my face in disgust. A parasite. I knew the exact book that I could select from my stack to further investigate Swimmer’s Itch: The
Control of Communicable Diseases Manual.
“Ha! I didn’t think a nurse thought anything was gross. In fact, you just told me about road rash rather nonchalantly.” Barb accused me.
“Every nurse has their line in the sand. Mine is parasitic larvae and worms.” I said as I remembered a patient, a recent immigrant from Mexico, passing a six inch intestinal worm which I carefully placed in a sample cup, disguising my complete horror (kudos to me), and sent to the lab. It didn’t take long for the results to come back: Ascaris lumbricoides. I quickly looked it up and found that it can migrate to the lungs. It was no wonder he was having such difficulty with shortness of breath! After just one dose of antihelminthic medicine this poor guy passed several worms. He had what they refer to as ‘a high worm burden’, so this went on for daaaaaays. Thankfully I was off work for that stretch! I shuddered just thinking about it.
“So blood doesn’t bother you?”
“The correct term would be mucous, and nope.”
“So just worms, eh?”
“Yup.” I nodded vigorously and I knew that, with the mere mention of this subject, I could count on one of my recurring nightmares where a ferocious hookworm played a leading role. Sigh.