Hesitated to write about this…More of what?…

dust mite medical 3d illustration - typical dust mite dust mite stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images
Yikes! This is a dust mite, un-seeable by the naked eye.. (Not our photo).

I hesitated to write this story today. Genetic health issues, primarily from my mother’s side of the family, left me with a variety of medical problems which I’ve struggled with most of my life. As a child, I had severe asthma beginning at about three years old. As I got older, I developed hay fever, which only exacerbated the situation.

In my 20s, I started taking cortisone tablets daily, which continued for 14 years, wreaking havoc with my health and well-being, but at least I could breathe.

In my 30’s I went through all those allergy tests and subsequent weekly injections to reduce my symptoms while at the same time tapering off the cortisone tablets, which took two years. Finally, the injections were completed, and I was truly free of symptoms for many years.

On top of that, as mentioned in the past, I suffered from metabolic syndrome causing high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and constant battles in attempting to maintain my weight at a healthy level. These issues have only recently been entirely resolved when I once again changed my diet, becoming more strict in a low-carb way of eating while in that hotel room in India. I no longer have high blood pressure (off all medication), and I am no longer pre-diabetic.

As I continue to learn about metabolic syndrome, I have realized that constant high blood sugar and high blood pressure caused me to develop cardiovascular heart disease, often a high-risk factor in diabetes and hypertension. Also, after 40 years have passed since I had those allergy injections, the positive effects have worn off. The allergies have returned and manifested in different ways.

Kudu, named Bossy, was surrounded by mongooses and didn’t seem to mind a bit as long as there were pellets around. The mongooses don’t care for the pellets.

Yes, after all my posts about my health over the years, I hesitated to write about it again today. But, over the past few months, I’ve thought that if perhaps my writing about this could provide one of our readers with a morsel of curiosity about their conditions, resulting in their pursuit of answers, it was well worth any potential retribution or criticism. I can only imagine many of our readers thinking and saying, “Here we go again.”

So here is my most recent allergy dilemma. I am suffering from severe hives (or what appears to be insect bites) from dust mites. When I had the allergy tests 40 years ago, dust mites were the number one allergen I responded to, number two being grasses.

This house we’re in is impeccably clean. You’d have a hard time finding a speck of dust anywhere. Each day Vusi and Zef clean every inch of space. But the harsh reality regarding dust mites is that they live unseen in mattresses, pillows, stuffed furniture, and clothing. Dust mites, per se, don’t bite their victims. See below from this site:

Tom mixed ups yet another batch of raw scrambled eggs.

“What Are Dust Mites?

Dust mites are microscopic, insect-like pests that generate some of the most common indoor substances—or allergens—that can trigger allergic reactions and asthma in many people. Hundreds of thousands of dust mites can live in the bedding, mattresses, upholstered furniture, carpets, or curtains in your home. They feed on the dead human skin cells found in dust.

Dust mites are not parasites; they don’t bite, sting, or burrow into our bodies. The harmful allergen that they create comes from their fecal pellets and body fragments. Dust mites are nearly everywhere; roughly four out of five homes in the United States have detectable levels of dust mite allergen in at least one bed.”

Here is information on rashes caused by exposure to dust mites, which I appear to be suffering from over the past few months. I do not see new rashes during the day or evening while outdoors. But, at night, when I go to bed, I start itching like crazy and discover new rashes all over my body in the morning, particularly areas that touch the mattress and pillows.

Utilizing extreme caution and the frequent use of DEET repellent several times a day, I no longer am getting many mosquito bites. For a while, I thought the rash might be a result of the harsh laundry soap. Louise had Vusi and Zef start using baby-friendly chemical-free laundry soap.

We rarely feed the impalas. There are so many of them, and we’d draw even more if we did so. Occasionally, they visit when there are already pellets on the ground. There is plenty of green vegetation for them to graze at this time.

We purchased the same type of laundry soap for our laundry, clothing, and towels.  Although there was a slight improvement, I’d still awaken in the morning with new outrageously itchy spots all over my body, particularly any exposed skin. A few nights, I wore winter pajamas with long tight pants and long sleeves. This helped, but it’s tough to wear these hot clothes to bed when temperatures are in the 100Fs, 40Cs, during the day. The air con in the bedroom couldn’t keep me cool enough to be able to sleep.

My arms are the worst, covered in inflamed, red bite-like spots that continue to itch for no less than three weeks once I have a new batch. My neck and face have been covered at times with the rash. When old patches recover, new ones occur. I try not to complain. My Fitbit shows how poor my sleep has been, often around four or five hours intermittently. I take antihistamines daily and use prescription cortisone cream several times a day and night. Nothing helps.

Last week, Vusi and Zef cleaned and sprayed all sides of the mattress and pillows with anti-dust mite spray. It lasted only two nights and then was back with a vengeance.

Yesterday, in dire frustration, I threw my arms in the air. I asked Louise to find a professional exterminator to come and fog the entire house, hopefully ridding us of this problem. We insisted we pay for this service. As it turned out, the only professional in this area is gone for two weeks. Instead, he told Louise and Danie how to fumigate the house and what products to use that will hopefully provide some relief until he returns and does the full-professional treatment.  I feel bad that they have to do this. But, that is how they are, always concerned for our well-being and the well-being of all their clientele.

Bossy always stares at me for more pellets. She has us both well trained.

Monday, we have to move out of the house for 24 hours while they come in the morning and do the temporary fumigation job. They insisted we stay at their wonderful current home while staying in another of their fabulous properties with family joining them for a few weeks’ visit. Monday morning, we’ll pack up an overnight bag and head to their beautiful house, only minutes away.

So there it is, another of my recent dilemmas. This same thing happened to me last time we were here in 2018 and when we stayed in a hotel in Minneapolis during a six-week family visit in 2017. There were no such issues during those ten months in India. Thank goodness.

Last night our friend Alan came to visit, and we had an enjoyable evening. Tonight, we’re going to Jabula for dinner. Soon, we’ll visit Kruger National Park once we wrap up this situation and complete a few looming tasks.

Happy day. Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, March 13, 2020:

“Buffaloes are believed to have domesticated around 5000 years ago in the Indus Valley and thrive best in the areas of moderate rainfall as they require plenty of water for their daily bath.   Indian buffaloes are considered to be an important source of milk today. They yield nearly three times milk like cows. Interestingly, 47.22 million milch buffaloes produce 55 percent of milk, which is more than half of the total milk produced in the country. Whereas, 57 million cows contribute only 45 percent of the total milk yield.” This is from the post one year ago, when we knew we had to end our 54-night private tour of India prematurely due to Covid-19. Please click here for more.

Are we back in Belize or Kenya?…What’s going on?…

In between parts of the souk, there are outdoor areas where many locals may be offering their wares. We’ve seen boxes of products arriving from Bangladesh and China. Shopping tourists often assume that all of the offered products are made locally. Some are, but not all.

When we arrived in Belize over a year ago, our first week spent in the little cottage on the beach, (until we moved out a week later), I suffered from over 100 bites from what is referred to as “no-see-ums” commonly known as sandflies. 

Once we moved to the fabulous LaruBeya we’d only have to go indoors at dusk to avoid being bitten and wear repellent when outside at night. Later, in Italy, with no screens on the windows or AC, the flies dined on me day and night, eventually requiring me to wear the BugsAway clothing, leaving me hot as I was overly dressed in the heat of summer.

Shop owners and workers often play with their smartphones as they await the next customer.

In Kenya, it was mosquitoes, making it necessary for me to wear insect repellent 24 hours a day. In South Africa, it was mosquitoes, referred to as “mozzies,” again requiring me to wear repellent at all times that buzzed around my head but not nearly as bad as they had in Kenya.

When we arrived in Morocco two months ago, it was cool, mostly in the 60Fs during the day, cooler at night.  Without a bug in sight, I thought that for a while I was home free with no biting insects. I was kidding myself.

As spring arrived this past month, almost on queue with the weather warming more and more each day, I awoke 10 days ago with no less than 25 bites on my right arm and hand.

This appears to be an abandoned construction site.

I sleep on my left side with my right arm draped over an extra pillow placed perpendicular to my body. This pillow provides relief for my bad right shoulder. As a result, my right arm is outside the covers most of the night. I didn’t see a single insect fly by the screen of my phone as I’d read a book each night. What was biting me?

Itching like crazy with neither repellent nor itch relief on hand from when we’d lightened our load, I searched online for the source of my dismay…the lowly sandfly, aka “no-see-ums” commonly called the phlebotomine sandflies. Nasty little invisible buggers!

These are no simple bites. These are vicious bites leaving raised hot, red, swollen nodules that itch beyond belief, eventually to ooze if rubbed or scratched even in the slightest. Oh, good grief. Here we go again as I wondered, why me and not Tom?

Hundreds of years of wear and tear is evident in certain areas.

In finding this article from the Smithsonian Institute, the answer is clear. I am a Type-0 blood type, twice as likely as Tom’s Type-A. Plus, I must have a genetic factor. My two sisters suffer from the same tendency to be bitten.

After reading through the above article I feel confident the answer to the dilemma lies therein explaining my propensity to being bit in general, let alone attracting biters away from Tom. He often explains that when I leave the room, they flock around him in my absence until I return.

Unable to find repellent at the pharmacy we tried in the Medina, I’ve resorted to being totally covered in clothing around the clock. Sandflies, invisible to the eye are too small to bite through clothing or blankets. As a result, I’ve been wearing one of Tom’s white long-sleeved BugsAway shirts to bed at night with my arms well covered and during the day wearing my own BugsAway shirt, jeans, and socks.

This shop sells attractive tiles sinks and basins.

Now, completely covered they’ve resorted to biting my hands during the day and again during the night. A few days ago Adil brought a plug-in device for the bedroom that continually emits a repellent. We keep the drapes covering the doorway to the bedroom closed at all times, as I’ve instructed Madame and Oumaima to do the same each day after cleaning our bedroom.

These combined measures appear to have improved the situation. But, I’m still getting bites on my hands and fingers. Nothing is more itchy and annoying than bites on one’s knuckles or between the fingers. As I sit here in the salon at this moment, I can’t see them but they surely hover around me avoiding my bug repellent shirt instead, feasting on my hands. I no longer scratch after reading that scratching exacerbates the length of time the bites remain “active.” I knew this. I needed to be reminded.

After 10 days, the original bites continue to itch and the newer ones are revving up for days to come. In reading information about these nasty critters, the itching may last for weeks or months.

Off the beaten path, second-hand items are offered for sale on the ground as the local seller hunches on the ground, hoping for a sale.

Today, if necessary we’ll stop at every pharmacy in the Medina to find repellent and anti-itch cream. If we find the repellent I’ll wear it around the clock, reloading it on my hands each time I wash. Perhaps, if the repellent works well I’ll be able to stop wearing hot, bulky clothing as the weather is now into the scorching 90F degrees (32.3C) almost every day.

In the realm of things…no big deal!  But, for those prone to being bit, one must be prepared when traveling. How did we end up unprepared? When packing to leave South Africa, my tube of Cortisone cream was almost empty and expired so I tossed it, thinking I could easily buy another. When I used the last drop of repellent on the last day, again, I thought replacing it would be no issue.

Also, after reading about insects in Marrakech nothing was mentioned about these pesky critters. Once we arrived, not seeing a fly or bee anyway in the riad with the center courtyard open to the sky, I thought there would be no issue. Little did I know.

A few nights ago, my entire right arm was hot and swollen from all the bites. Using antibiotic ointment, I dabbed at each of the bites before putting on Tom’s shirt for bed.  In the morning it was better. These types of bites may become infected making it important to stay mindful as to their condition. Initially scratching them, even gently over my clothing, proved to result in further damage.

Caught up in the discomfort of itching results in losing valuable time better spent enjoying our surroundings and time together. I’ve learned my lesson to always have anti-itch cream and repellent on hand wherever we may go.

Is it any wonder that there would be sandflies in the desert…duh…the sand? Good thing I didn’t ride a camel on the desert sands as originally planned! Our change of plans turned out better than we’d expected!


Photo from one year ago today, April 30, 2013. With no photos taken that particular day, below is a photo from the prior day:

A tourist boat made to look like an old pirate ship passed by our ship, the Norwegian Epic as we watched from our balcony. For details of the story posted on April 30, 2013, please click here.