Without further ado, let's get to some paranormal talk!
My story begins with a Closet Encounter on Elm Street
I'd say I was between 8 and 10 years old, when this happened to me. I wouldn't call it a 'ghost sighting' but more an encounter with the other side. We had moved into a 100-year-old home on Elm Street in a small quaint town in Massachusetts. The house was huge and had lots of nooks and crannies to explore, especially for a curious young kid. Spider webs, bugs, critters, mud, nothing deterred the inquisitive spirit.
Home alone with only my Mom one day, I was on the 3rd floor (attic) exploring when I spotted a thick book up on a high shelf in one of the bedroom closets. I grabbed a ladder, climbed up, and gingerly lifted the book from the shelf and carried it down the ladder. I rested it on one of the steps and examined the aging leather-bound cover. It was a Bible, with a print date of 1833.
The book today
As I flipped it open, I found an old photo, a Daguerrotype image, of a family--a man, woman, and 2 children. Since moving into the house, I had wondered about the people who had lived there before us, and thought that these were the people. I was so excited about this discovery and of course I wanted to share it with my Mom. However, I wanted her to see how I found the book and its contents, exactly.
So I carefully placed the book back where I originally found it. I ran downstairs and as I barely contained my excitement, I shouted, "Mom, come up here and see what I found!" She immediately joined me and we went back up to the attic together, proceeding to the closet where the newly found 'treasure' was located. I climbed up the ladder, carefully removed the book, and showed it to her. I told her about the photo as I opened the Bible to show it to her. To my surprise, it was no longer there. We then looked all around the closet, even lifting floorboards to see if the photo had slipped between the cracks. That day, and for years after, I continued to look for the photo, but it has never been found.
The attic window
That was the first of many unexplained occurrences that I recall experiencing in The House on Elm Street.
He that sows thorns should never go barefoot.~ Benjamin Franklin
Are you a gardener? Do you work with or around roses or pyracantha? Perhaps you handle hay while working on a farm or with horses? Maybe you mix up your own potting soil or make hypertufa pots, using sphagnum moss? Do you scratch about in the soil as you plant your favorite new nursery finds? Or perhaps you enjoy turning that compost heap?
If you answered 'yes' to any of the above, you need to know this. Sporotrichosis schenckii is a fungus that is found on the above items. If you are punctured by a rose thorn or stalk of hay, if you breathe in some of that sphagnum moss as you toss it, if you have an open wound and come into contact with the soil or decaying plants, it is possible for this fungus to invade your body and begin to grow.
Rosa sericea ssp omeiensis f. pteracantha
Although it is uncommon, you can develop the fungal disease Sporotrichosis. You may know this as Rose Thorn Disease, Rose Gardener's Disease, Farmer's Disease, Rose Handler's Disease, or Gardener's Disease. While Rosarians may be familiar with this disease, many others are not. This disease can be difficult to diagnose because the fungus can be a deceptive infection. So you need to know the causes (stated above), the symptoms, and treatment.
According to the CDC website, it takes 1 - 12 weeks for symptoms to appear. Without anti-fungal medication, the area will swell, possible rupture, and can even spread to the lymph nodes, and to other parts of the body (in extreme cases, or in those with weakened immune systems). If you breathe in the spores, the symptoms are similar to pneumonia, with shortness of breath, cough, and fever.
I have been a victim of numerous rose thorn punctures over the years, but this year was different. Weeks after the punctures, my hand began to swell. Because some bacterial infections mimic the symptoms of Sporotrichosis, my doctor initially treated me with antibiotics. After 2 courses of them, and with symptoms returning even more pronounced than before, my doctor prescribed anti-fungal medication. I also subsequently saw hand specialist and infectious disease doctors.
Lacking a biopsy at the outset to identify the specific cause, the infectious disease doctor stated that he believes the correct diagnosis was Sporotrichosis based on my symptoms' response to the anti-fungal medication.
It is important to note that if any portion of the infected material remains in the body, no amount of medication will eliminate the infection. As soon as the medication stops, the material will begin to infect the body again, until the object is removed. To rule out the presence of a foreign body, I had an ultrasound done, which confirmed there was no foreign body remaining.
As I write this, I've been on medication almost three months, and my course of treatment isn't yet complete. I will continue to take the medication for an additional 4 weeks following the absence of symptoms. This isn't surprising because, according to the CDC website, the normal course of treatment for Sporotrichosis is 3 to 6 months of anti-fungal medication.
The New York State Department of Health has a fact sheet with suggestions on how to protect against getting Sporotrichosis. They include wearing gloves (I was wearing regular gardening gloves; I now wear thick rose gloves when I'm anywhere near roses), long sleeves, and avoiding direct physical contact with objects that could have the fungus. It's probably overkill, but I've also started wearing a good face mask whenever I work with potting soil.
My current 'rose' of choice,
not a rose at all.
(Disclaimer: I'm not a physician. I composed this information from research and personal experience. I had a physician review the article prior to publishing.)