Current Photo of My Leg
This is what the bite area looks like on my leg, today. The bruise marks and change in the texture of my skin continues to change and get worse.
This is one example of what some of the bites looked like at the time they occurred. With the exception that there were several little bites in a cluster. The bite area was about the size of my pinky nail (at the time the bite occurred)
I don’t remember how many days went by when I realized that the bite on my leg was not looking or feeling “typical.” Normally, when I get bit by fire-ants, the bite turns into what looks like a pimple (A small, red, bump on my skin with a whitish looking center) and then eventually heals. If you itch it while it’s healing and burst the white center (from itching) then it could extend the length of time it takes to fully heal from it and possibly leave a scar. For me, it usually took a few weeks for my bites to heal because I had a tendency to itch the whites off. Yes, I was told not to do this. I was in my 20’s and although I tried to semi-listen, if they itched (which they did – a LOT) I itched them. Meh. I was willing to deal with the scars and extended healing time because (prior to that day on the floor) the bites I got healed and left very little (if at all) scarring.
As the days went by, I remember noticing that I had several of those bites in a cluster on my leg and the bite area started to look bruised. That’s when I began to wonder if it was something other than a fire-ant that bit me.
NOTE: The photos with this BLOG: The one on the LEFT is of my leg (at the bite location). It is a recent photo of my leg. I haven’t been able to find the photos I took of it over the years, including when I first got bit. Primarily because, back then, I used a traditional camera. Meaning, it wasn’t digital. I was bit around 1995. Back then, the bite wasn’t very big either. It was about the size of my pinky-nail. However, as time went on, the skin around the bite area changed in texture, color, and size. Yes, the bruise was growing (still is). I’ve noticed that on the outer edges it’s a faint color. As time goes on it changes and keeps spreading. This is how large it is now. In 2015, a large bruise spot appeared on my back and in 2018, one started on my face. I’ll show those photos in future blogs.
The one on the RIGHT is to give you an example of what it kind of looked like at the time the bites happened. Just need to add several more bites clumped together.
As time went on, the bite area was looking & feeling worse. In addition, I started to feel sick, wore out, have body aches, headaches, weak, etc. Unfortunately, at the time, I did NOT realize it was due to whatever bit me. I thought I was fighting some kind of illness (like the flu or something) and/or that I was just overly exhausted since I not only worked long hours, but tended to push myself hard to accomplish whatever tasks I needed and wanted to successfully accomplish.
I remember talking to my mother, who’s an RN in NJ and MD, telling me that I needed to go see my doctor. So, I did. My Doctor dismissed my bites as either fire-ant or spider bite (non-poisonous since it was several days since I was bitten and the symptoms, she believed I would have from a poisonous spider would have already shown. Therefore, concluded that it wasn’t poisonous). Sounds logical, right? Mmmm… hmmm.
So, running with THAT thought…. “Since it was several days since I was bit and I didn’t have the “usual” symptoms associated with poisonous spider bites,” she decided that if it were a spider bite that it wasn’t a poisonous spider and that it wasn’t something to be concerned about. She told me to put Triple Antibiotic Ointment on it and deal with is until my body heals. She also dismissed my feelings of exhaustion/fatigue, body aches, headaches, nausea, etc. as either fighting the common cold or “bug” going around and/or simply pushing myself too hard. Again, nothing she could do to help me. I had to just deal with it until my body heals. She was quick to point out (in her opinion) my “flaws” and lay blame that my current health problems were my fault (i.e. working too hard & not resting enough). I trusted and believed her, so I took responsibility for “my actions” and current condition. She wasn’t the only Doctor to tell me this or treat me in an unprofessional and uncaring manner.
Since my health continued to slowly decline, I decided to see other doctors to get a 2nd opinion. He too dismissed my concerns and complaints. He treated me as if I was over exaggerating or blowing it out of proportion. He was also very condescending and chauvinistic. Making comments that eluded to me being an “overly sensitive female” who was “looking for attention.” All this while treating me like there was nothing wrong with me and that it was all in my pretty little head.
Yeah, he got on my nerves. I wanted to blast him, but knew that would only work against me. So, I simply nodded and looked for yet another “opinion.” I’ve lost count on how many Doctors I’ve seen and yes, that includes the “Specialists” and big named hospitals. Some of them did tests on me and some of them said their tests showed that there were some things “off” but NOT enough for them to do anything to help me. That’s when I started having several of these “Professionals” tell me that I was “Perfectly healthy, but with issues.”
Over the years I’ve been told that my problems were all in my head, that I was crazy, lying, faking, over-exaggerating, looking for attention, and so on and so forth. I began to notice that the CARE part of Healthcare was greatly lacking. As was the “HEALTH” part. ALL of them (except a small handful) were as rude and useless as the first. Those NON-caring “Professionals” treated me like I was the problem vs. what was attacking my body.
In addition to dealing with these “Professionals” I had to also endure lack of support and understanding from some friends and family. They all believed there was NOTHING wrong with me, that it was ALL IN MY HEAD, and that I needed to stop wasting their time.
Here’s one problem with everything these people chose to believe. I was STILL having health problems that were slowly getting worse. I began to question my own sanity. I am the kind of person that has no problems accepting responsibility and working harder. Unfortunately, the more I pushed myself the worse I got.
I had no option to rest and take it easy. Especially when I had no support. I was forced to keep pushing myself to survive. No matter how hard I pushed myself or told myself “Come On, Mare! They say it’s in your head – so take control!” I couldn’t. As my health got worse, I began to accept that there was something truly wrong with me, but how do I get help when no one believes me?
Here’s one thing I’d like to share about myself. I’m stubborn and determined. I don’t take “NO” for an answer. At least, not easily. THANKFULLY, neither did the few people who believed me and cared about me. Thankfully, that included some family members, friends, and a couple of Doctors. Now, these Doctors are OBGYNs. I am forever grateful for ALL that they have done and are doing for me. . . . . . . .