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by Tumbleweed Smith

When we went to Belize in late December, we went deep into the jungle to explore some Mayan ruins. It was a thrilling experience to see the mounds and overgrown ball court that was once home to a fascinating group of people. We entered caves, which were the basements of their homes.

The man who was showing us around told us to watch out for fer-de- lance, the deadly snake. We didn't see any, but we were on alert.

I didn't dress for the jungle. I wore a t-shirt and shorts. It may have been my undoing.

A couple of weeks after I got back, my upper right arm over the muscle began to itch. I thought it was some sort of bite that would go away in a few days. It didn't. After several days of scratching it, my wife insisted that I go to the doctor. He told me that I had an insect bite of some kind. He poked a needle in it and some clear liquid oozed out. He told me to put some antibiotic cream on it and keep it covered.

Two weeks later the bite had formed what looked like a small volcano and it still itched like crazy. I returned to the doctor, who got out a small scalpel and made some incisions into my arm. He pulled out what looked like a black thread about two inches long. He told me he would send it to pathology.

A few days later he called me and said it was an external parasite. Very enlightening. I told my doctor that I was going to see a dermatologist in Lubbock to have some skin problems examined. My doctor said he would call the dermatologist and talk to him about my arm. As soon as he described my situation, the dermatologist said 'Has he been to Belize recently?'

The dermatologist told me I had a botfly bite. He performed surgery immediately, cutting all the way to the muscle, even removing part of it. He pulled out a critter the size of a grub worm. It seems a female fly lays eggs on the belly of a mosquito. When the mosquito lands on a person, body heat causes tiny larvae to hatch from one of the eggs. The larvae burrow into the body and starts growing. After a few weeks the full-grown larvae emerges to pupate and become a botfly. I looked up botfly on the internet and found lots of stories about them. There's comfort in numbers. The surgery required a dozen stitches to close. I have a wonderful scar on my arm. I can't wait to tell my grandkids about it.

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