Excerpt from the chapter “Day 13”:
Was it some tropical bacteria that had leeched under the nail in the dirt? I was walking around organic farms and piles of nature’s fertilizer, after all. In Burundi, there was discussion of a nasty water-born snail that can get under the skin; it lives in still bodies of water. I hadn’t spent any time in the pool or the lake, but maybe I’d been exposed to it another way?
Research calmed my monkey-mind. Again. Thanks to online pictures and research, my diagnosis was trauma to the nail bed from sunburn. The anti-malarial pills I’d taken for travel in Burundi and the Serengeti make a person highly sensitive to the sun, and I had to take them for 60 days, while walking on a mountain in thin cloud cover, near the equator. Except for the time I spent climbing the western breach and the summit—when I wore gloves—my hands were exposed, including a lot of time with hiking poles, where my thumb was positioned on top, smiling straight up at the equatorial-strong sun. Why only the thumbnails? Yes, it is strange. I was fascinated by the grow-out pattern on both thumbnails for months. Eventually they did grow out vs. fall off. The last bit of abnormal curvature went the way of the nail clipper a full eight months after my return.