IMG_5090So the other day, I was weeding in the garden when I felt the most outrageous “Ow! What is that?” and then, “Ow! This is getting markedly worse” and then “OK, relax, deep breath, you can call an ambulance if you need to” sting on my leg.

It was at the point in weeding where I was no longer leaning over to pluck because my hamstrings were tired and I was no longer resting on my haunches because my haunches (whatever they are) were tired, so I was sitting on a blue gardening pad and digging out whatever happened to be in my vicinity. I was wearing shorts because it was a hot, sunny day and, generally, me and Fitz-Bitz, who likes to “help,” were having a pretty good time.

Now, I’m not accusing anybody, but at the very same time as The Sting, I noticed an ant crawling down my leg. I’m not saying he was scurrying, because that would imply guilt, but I am saying there was an ant hurrying — yes, I’ll at least saying hurrying — down my leg.

The question was: Was he hurrying because he was escaping after stinger insertion or was he hurrying because he was just being an ant and in the world of insects, boy, the ants don’t allow a lot of time for lounging.

Whatever the answer, I plucked said ant off my leg, gave it a pretty aggressive squish, and moved on.

Happily, the pain from the sting dissipated rather quickly and weeding went on.

However, the next day, the point of impact had bloomed. The bite or sting was next to my right knee and there was now an angry red, amoeba-shaped spot surrounding it.

Also, it had begun to itch. Not itch in a casual, let’s-take-care-of-this-shall-we way. The kind of itch that only gets worse if you scratch it. The kind that makes you feel like maybe there is a smoldering fire underneath your skin that scratching will spread like a strong wind. The kind that reduces you, on a warm summer evening, to creating a palisade made of fingernail indents around the skin far beyond the infected area with the deep hope that will alleviate something.

By Day 3, the amoeba had grown by leaps and bounds and, dear readers, it was time to call the doctor.

Of course, being a pretty active hypochondriac, it doesn’t take me long to go the doctor route. I absolutely love going to the doctor and, if they’d let me, would happily trot over there every six months for a full-blown check-up.

But I’ve maxed out my visits for the year, so turned to my husband, who directed me to our wonderful friends Scott and Sarah, who are internal medicine docs. Because I am completely spoiled, I took a picture of the spot, texted it over and asked them what they thought (poor doctors must have to deal with this more and more often).

They asked thoughtful questions and then advised me to draw a line around the spot to assess if it had grown still larger the next day. If so, it was time for antibiotics. If not, I was fine.

Low and behold, it was the same size the next day. So I recovered and that was that.

Until last Sunday when I again went to the garden to weed. In the same shorts under the same sunny conditions and with my puppy once again more than game to “help” me.

And low and behold, there came to be an ant on my leg and, low and behold, there came to be a sting.

Only this time? The bite was on the top, inner-most reaches of my left thigh.

It’s now three days later and the red spot is about the size of a giant Gatlinburg-style flapjack. And I’m here to tell you that the top, inner-most reach of your thigh is not a pleasant place to have such a horrible itch.

So what is the lesson here? Well, I guess it’s that I obviously don’t learn my lesson. And I have no idea how to learn it, short of dispensing with weeding altogether. Moreover, is it an ant that’s getting me or is that just coincidence? And if it is the ant, what kind? I’ve researched fire ants, but they don’t seem common here. If it isn’t an ant, what is stinging me?

So essentially, I’m writing to get your insight, dear readers. Any ideas?

If so, please reach me at


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