The Trouble With Ignoring Your Travel Doc


Warning: this post is disgusting, likely falls under the ‘too much information’ heading, and diminishes any hope of me ever dating again. Not that I’d want to… boys have cooties. Read at your own risk.


The choice was clear  –  I would have to cut off my own foot.  I no longer had any desire to keep it, not after what I had discovered.

I am a long distance runner, so my feet are supposed to be disgusting. Sore spots, aches and ugly bits are the norm.  A week prior to my horrible discovery, I had run a half marathon, a tough run on the best of days, but this one was particularly challenging as I had just returned from 3 and a half weeks in Africa. I was jet lagged, sick, and filthy, no matter how hard I scrubbed.

When it came time to survey the post race foot healing, I had spotted something unusual. It appeared to be an infected sliver on the tip of my big toe. No biggie, a little operation and all would be fine. Man, I couldn’t be more wrong.  One little squeeze and out popped an egg.

My foot laid an egg.

There is nothing ok with that. Through tears, horror and absolute shock, I braved another squish. More eggs. I steadied myself, fighting off sheer panic. I poked and prodded, and then unthinkable happened. The mother emerged. Alive. From my toe.

It all looks rather innocent...
It all looks rather innocent… but there are monsters lurking in the sand.

Insert girly screams, hysteria, tears and an easy decision to remove my own foot at 11:30 on a Sunday night.  As I didn’t have a machete handy, I opted instead to burn my foot off, only after a brutal bit of surgery. Tweezers, rubbing alcohol, scissors and a lighter were engaged.  It’s all a bit of a blur, let’s just say it wasn’t pretty. I came to my senses while I was setting my foot on fire, and opted for booze and bandages instead. I didn’t sleep a wink that night, despite the fact that I consumed far more alcohol than my toe did.

The following day I called my travel doctor’s office. “We can see you Thursday afternoon” the cheery receptionist offered.  “Um, I just dug a family of bugs out of my toe.” “We can see you this morning at 10” came her uncomfortable response.

I think my doctor enjoys our visits.  His regular patients are often looking for cruises with early bird specials while I wander off and feast from alleyway nooks. “I had a critter nesting in my toe.” I confessed with total mortification.  “That’s so freaking cool!” he exclaimed. He could barely contain his excitement when I produced a little baggie with the eggs and their mom in bits – I cut her in half, just in case.

He quizzed me on how this happened. “Remember the part where you said not to go in the water?”

Paradise in the Usambara Mountains in Tanzania
Paradise in the Usambara Mountains in Tanzania

“Well… there was a refreshing pond in the mountains in Tanzania, I couldn’t help but dip my toes in. And then there was the white water rafting in Zambia, and swimming to the edge of Victoria Falls. Or maybe the three days on a beach on the Indian Ocean where my shoes hid in my pack the entire time.”

Swimming to the edge of Victoria Falls in Zambia
Swimming to the edge of Victoria Falls in Zambia


A few weeks later, the diagnosis came. The little bastard was a sand flea, one that likely crept into my toe as I slept in a grass hut on the beach. “I can’t wait to tell my friends!” my doctor cheered.


“Oh, it’s ok, they’re pathologists. They’ll likely study you.”  It was only a matter of time before I ended up being the topic of scientific research. Several ointments, foot soaks, and antibiotics later, the toe healed. I, however, am still trying to recover.

 The Deets: Need a travel doctor? Dr. Aw is the best. He’s quite thorough, you’ll enjoy an informative conversation, look at maps and have a laugh or two.  You’ll be treated a person, not a file and a quick jab.  He’s located in Richmond Hill, easy peasy off Highway 404.



6 Responses

  1. Steve Bell
    | Reply

    OMG!! I would have lost it!! What the hell did you do for that Karma!!LOL

    • goodnewt
      | Reply

      Hehe, now that’s a story I can’t tell!

  2. Merry Perry
    | Reply

    I would need years of therapy I think. Love your blog. I did read the TMI warning but it only egged me on to dig deep in the words that followed, i must have some of your recklessness 🙂

    • Michelle Holmes
      | Reply

      I still have trouble going anywhere near my foot. And thanks for the kudos, I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the read, despite the gory details.

  3. rachel staggs
    | Reply

    yikes! glad it could be treated!

  4. Kevin M. Klerks
    | Reply

    I wish I had a copy of your story handy when I travelled to the Pacific Rim on Vancouver Island. There on the beach were several people laying in the sand in sandals, shorts and swimsuits… as the sand fleas by the thousands hopped about merrily.

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