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The Permanent BandAid

April 13, 2006 | Category: In My Life

Note: I want to promise that this is my last "self-absorbed belly-gazing writing about my big change of life and oh, mutant insect bites" posts but, maybe not.

When I was about 13, I went on a month-long kayaking trip with a bunch of other kids to Quebec. It was a freaky and amazing trip, and I still carry the indelible memories.

Like bonking a moose on the antlers with my paddle. The moment I tipped down to ride my first (little) waterfall. A sidetrip to a old mill with a cute (and injured) guy. The look on everyone's faces at my first supper home when I looked at my favorite ham and potato casserole and sheepishly asked for salad because I'd become vegetarian.

But the biggest memory from that trip has to be the mutant insects.

I will never forget the look on my mother's face the first time she saw my back after I got home. I think there were over 100 bites - all red and swollen, like stings.

But the bite that was the worst was actually on my shin.

I got it one of our first days out. We made base camp at the bottom of what was supposed to be a fairly easy river. Good for getting started.

Yeah, ok. Bad maps, inebriated guide. Long story short, we spent most of the first few days portaging, thankyouverymuch. Miles and miles in pairs, carrying our kayaks and packs through brush.

At the end of one of those treks, I remember looking down to see this huge welt in the middle of my shin. At first I thought it was a snake bite that I somehow didn't remember. Nope. Mutant insect.

That bite drove me nearly insane.

Day after day once we found good water. I spent hours in the 1-man kayak with my legs tucked out of reach and I remember being in near tears because I wanted to itch it so bad. And when I would give in to it and strip open the plastic diaper that sealed away my lower body to scratch the thing - it would be so sore that I would actually break down and cry.

It grossed out the other kids, too. We became the bug-spray addicts our parents had always dreamed we'd become.

But too late for my poor, lamented shin.

On our next run into whatever local town we happened to be near, we headed over to a chemist and bought me a box of big huge band aids. The kind you put over bullet wounds - I am so not kidding. That and first aid spray and enough surgical tape to stock a mobile hospital.

And each morning, before we headed out, we'd douse my leg bites in spray and calamine and whatever else was on hand and then wrap it in the band aid. (A guy named Yuval made a great medic, if you got past the white man's 'fro he had going on).

And the thing is, it healed.

Slowly and with lots of little disgusting scabs. But it healed.

And yet, I would still insist on slapping a band aid on it every morning. A pair of keds, my maroon one-piece bathing suit, about 2 gallons of sunscreen, whatever t-shirt was least filthy, a helmet, and a band aid over most of my shin.

I got so in the habit of protecting it that I was scared to stop. Which is strange when I remember how I ignored my back completely at the same time. (And it got absolutely infected, much to my mother's horror.)

And it wasn't until I ran out of them when we were probably at least 50 kilometers from the nearest store that I finally slipped my legs into my kayak one morning without my gauze companion.

I don't know why I thought of that today.

I have been so retreated inside myself for so many weeks.

Even though things are so much better.


The sun is out. The lilacs are budding. Most days now, I remember to shower and do errands and I'm even starting to track today's date again.

Corner turned, right?

I have offered myself up to a couple of charities. And the library. Andeven started battling Bear's school again - so, yeah. Right?

But I am not sure how to stop reaching for some kind of gauzy buffer each day.

To stop wanting to hide the healing wounds away.

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Tagged: Corporate, Mommy, Life


What a beautiful analogy. I am so glad to hear that you are shedding your bandages adn getting out into the world. I'm sure this spring will bring wonderful things into your life.

Posted by: Jennifer on April 13, 2006 10:21 PM

And you know, these feelings you have are exactly what I am afraid of whenever I think about going back to work.

Posted by: Tammy on April 13, 2006 07:07 PM