Sunday, May 2, 2010

**WARNING** Ugandan Jigger Removal

So this morning I walked to town to meet up with my friend Joyce who promised to remove the jigger who set up house in my left foot. A jigger is an insect that lives in the mud or dirt and burrows into human flesh (usually on the foot near the toe nail) and lays an egg sack. I first noticed it when I was washing my feet two days ago and felt what seemed like a really hard mosquito bite. It didn't itch so I was curious. After much contorting (it's hard to get a good look at the bottom of your foot without a mirror!) this is what I saw:

"Oh, great!" I thought. "I've got a mango fly larvae in me!" A mango fly was just wishful thinking. Mango flys lay their eggs on drying laundry, or really any damp surface. These eggs hatch when they come in contact with skin and the larvae burrow into the host and set up shop there as they grow. The typical way to remove a mango fly is to suffocate it with a liberally applied dollop of Vaseline over the small hole it leaves through which it breathes, and then squeezing the little invader out like a zit. Wishful thinking indeed.

What I quickly discovered, after covering what I assumed was the breathing hole and not feeling or seeing anything frantically wiggling for air, was that I had a jigger. And those aren't easy to remove.

Yesterday Joyce told me that all I needed to bring to the jigger removal was a safety pin. She would use the safety pin to dig out the egg sac and remove all materials the jigger left behind. While Joyce only requested a safety pin, I also brought some anti-bacterial wipes to clean both my foot and the safety pin, a box of matches to sterilize the safety pin, and some bandages and antiseptic ointment for post-surgery repairs.

After thoroughly cleaning both my foot and the "scalpel," Joyce began by poking at the spot and exclaiming, "It's spitting at me!" I can only assume that she meant the wound was "spitting" liquid that my body created to try to fight off the invader and not that the jigger and/or egg sack was actually spitting something at her. Because that's just too creepy/disgusting for me to think about right now.

Eventually she managed to dig out the egg sack, any remaining bits of jigger and whatever the jigger used to line the cavity with the safety pin. Surprisingly it didn't really hurt. I expected it to be quite painful since it hurt quite a lot whenever I pressed on the spot and I could feel a dull aching at the spot when I walked. However, I barely even noticed she had begun. I could definitely feel strange pressure when she was digging around. But little pain. It did hurt more near the end, after she had removed the egg sack and was kind of...scraping...the sides to get the remaining material out, but not like I expected. And I'm also a little bit of a baby. I suspect that for most people this wouldn't have hurt at all.

Here's the end result:

Jigger free :)


j said...

ummmm, honeyyyyyyyy......I like what your foot looks like better when it has a jigger inside of it....jigger free is gross.

S. said...

but so much less painful! It hurt having that jigger in there :(

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking a bigger opening for more?