Boil, Boil, Toil and Trouble

A boli on the legI’ve decided: Boils are not fun. When the missionaries in Wewak heard I had a couple of them, they immediately swapped stories with each other about other boils they’ve seen on each other. Okay, so I’m part of the crowd now. Boils are still not fun. They are, in fact, quite disgusting.

The photo shows the boil that came up on my leg before it got ugly. I thought it was a giant zit. Why would I think that at my age?

The boil on the side of my head, above and behind my right ear in my hair, was worse. It went away when the one on my leg went away, but then it came back worse than before. The pain kept me awake at night. Apparently I didn’t take antibiotics long enough. The medicine succeeded in wiping out the little beasties that caused the boils, but left behind the stronger ones.

One of our missionary doctors emailed a choice of four different medicines to take to take down the little monsters in my system. I looked through the small pharmacy we brought with us. (We’re a long, long way from any pharmacy at the moment.) We didn’t have the first two antibiotics on the list, but we did have the third. I also found some Ibuprofen. I didn’t realize how much pain I was in until the first dose wore off.

Boils take time to heal. But I did find one way to help the process. While in the regional centre in Wewak, where the boils first arrived, I had hot water available. That’s unusual in this country. I closed the bathroom door and turned the room into a sauna every night.

Here at the translation centre, when the boil on my head came back, I boiled water in a kettle, poured it into a kind of square tub in the bottom of a shower stall, and mixed cold water into it. I just barely fit into the tiny tub by curling up on my side. This didn’t quite give me a sauna, but the hot water did give me relief from the swelling. I did this two or three times before water rations started. Papua New Guinea is in the midst of a drought, and it finally caught up with us on the coast.

The boil on my leg is just a mark now, and the one and my head doesn’t hurt like it did. It should go away in time.

Since I wrote this article late last week, we did get some rain. I’ve heard the highlands got a little rain, too, where it has been desperately needed.

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2 Responses

  1. Carol Oostdyk says:

    Ouch! Praying it will heal faster than anticipated. What causes those things? Just a break in the skin and certain beasties?

    • Steve says:

      I’m no doctor, so I can’t tell you much. The only thing I know is that bacteria are somehow involved, and sometimes they can be pretty resilient. The doctors put me on antibiotics when it seemed to be a systemic problem.

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