Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Flies and Neckties

Now it's time to get serious and get a blog post in. I've run out of eating excuses.. I've stuffed my face with a handful of dried cherries to satisfy my emotional need for dessert. I'm torn between writing some serious commentary on the state of American politics (having just viewed the PBS documentary The Dark Side, shedding some light on the flimsy reasons we decided to attack Iraq), and the journey of a gnat inside my eye. Hmmm. I'm going to go with the insect, to clarify, the latter topic. (Though in March an entomologist did name a slime-mold beetle after George W).. My entire family has always taken a great liking to the world of bugs and insects and flying and crawling things in general. I myself do an excellent imitation of the common house fly cleaning himself.. Maybe it's my near-obsessive need for independence that makes me find parasites so riveting.. (Warning: skip the next section if you're one of those weak-stomached people).. There was a program on TV retelling amazing survival stories, and they told of this 16- yr- old girl whose plane had crashed in the Brazilian rain forest. She was the sole survivor, and awoke from an unconscious state to find herself still strapped into the aircraft seat which had landed in a tree. With the dense population of insects, she had discovered that any open wound she had received was now covered in bugs. Her journey to safety took several days and several swims through crocodile infested waters, but to me the most fascinating part of the adventure was (here's the gross part!) that she discovered many of the bugs had layed their eggs into her wounds, burrowed under her skin, and she systematically extricated them one by one by breaking the skin open.. I believe she removed over one hundred of these.. I don't mean to turn this girl's trauma into light-hearted entertainment, but I really do think it's human nature to enjoy watching this stuff.. We kind of want to know how to handle this situation, in case any one of us should ever find ourselves in the same predicament.. Well, I can tell you, until you've experienced a gnat thrashing about between your eyelid and your eyeball, no amount of coaching will ease this experience.. So let me be of assistance.. This has happened to me enough times that I've got a small collection of the dead carcasses taped to my running journal as evidence.. My story's not nearly as glamourous as the previous heroine, but I think you may still find it helpful in your travels. OK, first rule of bugs: They love bodies of water, and they always come out when it's above 60 degrees farenheit. They also are attracted to light sources, which may explain why they always go right for my eyes. The trail where I normally do my running passes some little swampy areas, so every Summer a new swarm of flying things has to be contended with. The first time a gnat flew in my eye, I did the completely wrong thing. I slammed my eye shut in an effort to trap it. And my eye just burned like crazy, and I thought if I opened it, it would burn more, so I didn't. Don't do that. The human body is an amazing little medical center all rolled into one skin.. The correct thing to do when a bug flies in your eye is to leave it open! That's right. This takes a lot of practice, because every fiber in your body is telling you to trap that little bastard! But no.. By leaving your eye open, the natural healing process immediately takes over and starts cocooning the little critter into a soft cushion wrapped in eye rubber, preventing him from being able to damage your orb.. So no burning occurs.. But this cocooning takes an incredibly long time to complete, so in the meantime, you will feel every little wing flap and escape technique this little bugger can drum up, all in the cozy environment of your eye socket. Quite unnerving to a girl trying to complete a four mile run knowing that the last two miles will be accompanied by an unwelcome hitchhiker. Still, given the choice of a fly in my eye or a larva incubating under my skin, I think I'd choose the former.

Addendum: (entomologist-types are very big on 'addendums'): Whilst driving to work today, I noticed R&B singer Rhianna's song 'There's a Thug in my Life' sounds amazingly like 'There's a Fly in my Eye'.. Check it out!