Itchy Septuagenarian encounters the Texas Chigger

Posted 07.15.05

There it is in black and white according to Webster - "a bloodsucking larval mite that causes intense itching."

Honeychile, intense itching doesn't begin to describe what this Texas native has spent more sleepless nights the past three weeks than in my previous recorded history of life's miscellaneous trials and tribulations, angst, and heartaches. Not counting of course, the sleepless rigors of nighttime leg cramps during four pregnancies.

With visions only of sunlit splashings in the shallows of the Blanco River, which leisurely winds through Wimberley in the Texas Hill Country, how blindsided could one grandmama, surrounded by doting grandgirls and grandteens be?

As if crinkly alligator skin and ugly spider veins -- which prompted a total stranger observing once-whistle-worthy legs to share a recommended extreme makeover dermatologist procedure -- weren't enough. Ahhh, ignorance indeed is bliss.

There, whilst I stood, bathing attire clad on the grassy river bank, cautiously eyeing just the right spot to access the clear waters, my camera deftly balanced, lurked those devilish varmints.

Innocently gazing upon the youthful antics of my brood, gathered at the Blanco for one of those rare and treasured sweet memory chips which live on in my album collection already coveted by oldest granddaughter, nary a thought of the coming invasion struck a discordant chord.

In the afterglow of watching my loved ones swimming, tubing, exploring, slipsliding, and otherwise frolicking in and on the banks of the river, descends my very own reality horror show. And it wasn't pretty.

Ever seen those dust mite microscopic enlargements grossly flashed on your TV screen? Yuck! Chiggers are in the same family.

Home again, ensconced in my routine following multiple runs to procure Band-Aids, utensils from my kitchen, and more mayo or marshmallows, I looked forward to seeing the photographs of the departed river revelers.

Suddenly I became screechingly aware of something amiss.

A heretofore unblemished waistline, though definitely expanded from yesteryear's Skinny Minnie, turned into a Texas Chigger's ball park, or a mating linedance. Regardless the scenario, they were having all the fun, while I went about life in general with clenched teeth fighting the urge to claw my midriff.

In a flash those elusive varmints had broken all speed limits racing to other body creases and crevices. Misery multiplied. This was definitely not my idea of a joyous reclaiming of my inner child.

Friends, loved ones, neighbors, and pharmacy aisle hangouts all had remedy suggestions.

I tried swabbing them with vinegar. I tried smothering them with clear nail polish. One of my old-fashioned remedy books advised spreading the gel of pinpricked vitamin E tabs on each bite.

While trying frantically to read a bedtime novel, suppressing a scream from the depths of itch and scratch mania, I perused a bookmark given to me months before with the purchase of a small vial of emu oil. Would you believe Number 25 on the list of 30 uses for emu oil, was, yep, "relief from chigger bites." I was also advised for future reference to shake sulfa powder in my anklets, a guaranteed chiggers deterrent. Okay!

Surviving the warfare has riveted a firm resolve to include all the above in a backpack my next journey to the river. Actually, I rejected a recent invite to a riverside picnic, recounting to the inviter my subsequent insect torture, to which she replied, "gee whiz, I haven't been bitten by chiggers since I was a little girl."

I haven't talked to her since, but she was absent from Sunday School class the following Sunday. The local rumor is Texas chiggers are swarming.

I really believe my ultimate salvation from those vile varmints was that they drifted from in between my toes to under my toe nails where they met up with Digger, the gamatiphite, who is the undefeated subcutaneous miniscule monster of skin wraths, and he applied his terminator tactics. Sayonara,chiggers.

Copyright © 2005 Beverly Barrett/Log Cabin Chronicles/07.05