29 December 2010

Rats, Ringworm, and Fake Teeth


When I was fifteen my front tooth was knocked out in a freak swing accident. (I'm pretty sure public parks have always hated me and yes, I used to be blond).

I had a cap put on my tooth for four years, until I was able to get it replaced with a porcelain one. When I was going to get my new front tooth made, we decided that I would have BOTH my front teeth replaced. This way they would match in color and size. The whole thing, we'll call it The Front Teeth Debacle, spanned 4 months of the 19th year of my life.

First, my temporary teeth popped out when I bit my fingernail.

Then my new porcelain teeth were blue.

They gave me more temporary ones while they fixed the color. The second set of temporary teeth weren't even a set. They were just one big tooth with a little groove cut in the middle.

It was kinda gross.  Then my other tooth got infected and they had to do a root canal on BOTH of them. Then that big tooth with the groove popped out too. (this time while I ate a carrot).

After I finally got my beautiful new white porcelain front teeth,

the one on my right side would NOT stay in my mouth.

I'm pretty sure it fell out at least 5 times. I felt like I had been punched in the mouth over the span of four months.

(Some back story: Now, I was living in a really nacky apartment complex just west of my college campus with three of my friends. My boyfriend was living in NY until January (where he's from) and the teeth incident started in October. He had been gone since April, and I had just began to get used to him being gone.)


I love pets. More specifically, I love rats. I imagine I am one of the few who loves them. Even their tails. A lot of people say something along the lines of "Rats are cute, except for their tails....." and then they shudder, as if their tails still have plague bacteria on them or something.

By the way, rats never spread the plague. The fleas living in their fur spread the bacteria. But rats CAN give humans a cute little fungus called (foreshadowing) RINGWORM.(/foreshadowing) 

 One day in mid-November (I'm pretty sure this was when I had my second set of temporary teeth), I was at the pet store for some reason that I don't remember. It probably wasn't a good reason. This particular pet store is owned by the angriest man I have EVER met. I think he really hates every living thing on earth, and he owns a PET STORE.

At this pet store the rats caught my eye.

I went and asked grouchy pet store guy if he would help me get one of the rats to buy. I picked the one that seemed the most unique and payed for him. I don't remember when or why, but his name became Rasputin.

(Quick side-note: Some people shop impulsively. I impulsively buy animals.)

Rasputin was only alone for about a week before I decided he needed  a friend. I went back to the pet store and bought him a BFF, whom I named Sauron.  Turns out Rasputin is a food whore, because Sauron died after Rasputin ate ALL OF HIS FOOD EVERYDAY.

It sucked because the two rats were under Erika's supervision while I was away for Thanksgiving. Sorry again, Erika.

After I put Sauron in the freezer so I could bury him later, I went and bought Rasputin another friend. This time it was a girl rat which I named Desdemona. For some reason I must have forgotten about the reproduction process , because if I could go back in time, I would NOT have bought a female rat. Rasputin liked her WAY too much.


It was around the time I got Desdemona that I started noticing Rasputin's weird "rash" that was starting to spread all over his back.

But I didn't really care. I still let him crawl all over me.

When I went home for Christmas, I began noticing similar rashes and red circular patches forming on my skin. It was a tad worrisome. By the time I flew back to college about 10 circular patches had appeared on my neck, chest, and back.

It only got worse. I went to the campus health center, where the somewhat disgusted doctor diagnosed me with ringworm.

He asked if I had been hanging around wild animals.

Right. I probably got it from all of the feral cats and dogs that I use for a bed.

I went straight to the pet store to ask the angry pet man why his rats had ringworm.


A couple days later I was sitting, wrapped up in my roommate's blanket, watching TV and eating pasta alone. By then about 10 more nasty red rings had appeared on my body. I was the only one back from Christmas vacation, and it was freezing because the heat in our apartment didn't work. As I ate some pasta, that same loser front tooth came out of its place and onto my tongue.

Seriously? I was eating PASTA. I felt pretty crappy. I had no tooth,  I was freezing cold, and I was covered with a highly contagious fungus that made me look like like a leper. I certainly felt like a leper, isolated and unable to interact with anybody but my rats...

Okay. That sounds more like Willard. 

I called the dentist and made an appointment to have my tooth reattached. But the appointment wasn't for another three days, and I started my new job the NEXT day. I had no idea what I was going to do, so I spent most of the evening practicing holding my tooth to the little nubbin of my old tooth that had been underneath it with my tongue. It worked pretty well, and would stay lodged in there as long as I didn't talk too much.


I worked at the candy counter on campus but had just gotten a new job as an Illustrator for Independent Study. I tried my best to cover up all of my ringworm (I was NOT missing the first day of work) and I went to my new office.

My supervisor showed me where I sat and he gave me an assignment to start on. I don't even remember what the assignment was because I was so nervous about somebody seeing what a monster I was underneath my scarf. I tried keeping my mouth shut, only saying hello and my name to my new coworkers. I hoped that they would just think I was shy, and not toothless and diseased.

Then he walked in. This guy who I had had an art class with the previous semester and thought was really cute. He works here?! I felt sick to my stomach as he started to walk toward me, waving. Please don't say hi. 

I noticed that he was staring at my neck. 

My scarf had slipped down a little, revealing a bit of the horrendous secret rat fungus all over my body.
  My brain felt like exploding.

In the process of fixing my tooth my scarf slipped even more, and there was no WAY he could miss the ringworm. I had to make a decision. Would I explain why I looked like such a disaster? I could tell him it was ringworm. Or maybe hickies. But neither explanation was something someone would want to hear about.  "Don't even worry, Cute Art Class Guy, these red rings all over me are just a fungus that my pet rats gave me. Oh, and this tooth? It's just a cool trick I can do. "

So I just stayed silent as he smiled and sat down a few seats away from me. I sat in silent horror for the rest of my shift and hurried home without saying anything to anybody.

This isn't all.

Let me remind you. In a week's time my boyfriend, who I hadn't seen in 8 months, was coming back to school. We had talked and worked out all the travel plans and what time I needed to be at the airport to pick him up. The night before, I couldn't sleep very well. For some reason sleeping on the couch always helps. So I crashed on our couch and had a night filled with stress dreams about being late to the airport, him not actually showing up, my teeth falling out...

I realized in utter horror what was happening. I had to leave for the airport in half an hour.

In a crazed state I stumbled across the room to find my phone and called the dentist.

I have never put clothes on faster than I did that morning. I didn't even care that they cringed at the ringworm on my neck as they put me in the dentist chair. I was just so glad that my boyfriend wouldn't have to see me with ringworm AND toothless. Now he only had to see me with ringworm.

Rasputin and Desdemona went on to have 8 rat babies, all born on Valentine's Day. Desdemona ate one of them, and Hannah kept the rest. This was a horrible idea.

Hannah's front teeth were finally fixed, and haven't fallen out since.

The Ringworm spread to Hannah's friend Erika, who miraculously only had 2 or 3 circular rashes. WTF. 

Hannah and her boyfriend broke up a few months after, but it was unrelated to her fake teeth or her skin fungus.

Hannah's current boyfriend doesn't need to worry about anything like this ever happening again. Ever.


Kevin said...

hannah, you are great. your life stories are the best and always make me feel better about my life. hope things are going better for you now than they were then.

p.s. boyfriend-dan, you probably should be aware that while there probably won't be a repeat of this exact incident, things like this are fairly common for miss hannah. get used to it or get lost.

Angie. said...

I know I've mentioned this before.
David and I LOVE to read these blog entries together.
We laugh so hard at your illustrations & hilarious stories.

Seriously. We laugh SO hard.

Sarah said...

Hannah! Holy crap I haven't laughed that hard in a long time. I especially adored the part about your new job and the cute boy in your art class. That must have been so embarrassing, but it sure makes an excellent story.

Morgan said...

I cannot describe how unbelievably entertaining this was to read. also, it must have been an absolute nightmare.

Really good work on presenting a narrative text/image combo, Hannah! keep these coming, should time permit!

Rachel said...

I got ringworm from the kid I babysat, but it fortunately only covered my entire back and chest and stomach, all of which are easily covered.

Hannah Hillam said...

Thanks you guys! Yeah, this was a really embarassing and awful time for me, but it makes for a good story.

Kevin, boyfriend's name is Sean, and yeah...I bet he'll have to deal with something of the same caliber as this.

Morgan, you can expect more of these. :)

erika danielle eddington said...

I love this! I'm so glad I was there for all of this.

Gwennifer said...

As I'm sure you've heard before, your blog reminds me quite a bit of Hyperbole and a Half. However, that being said, I LOVE Hyperbole and a Half, so this tickled my funny bone quite a bit.

Good story--you didn't have to find $5 in the end.

Jessica Day said...

best and worst time of our lives.

brittna said...

this was hilarious

Jacob said...

Hannah I wish we were still hang out friends instead of just Facebook friends you make me laugh until my guts hurt

Ramona D said...

so uh...how DID you get the ringworm...if rats cant get it?

Hannah Hillam said...

The rat. Turns out in rare cases they can get it. It was just so frustrating that no one believed me. Haha

Steverino said...

I know that surly pet shop guy. He should get ringworm.

Harley said...

I laughed for so long.

Sarah said...

I was beginning to feel like we were sort of similar and then I read this post... and I KNOW we are similar. High five from a fellow rat-lover (my Ewan is running around my room as I type this, actually). Great name choices!

Nuria said...

Oh God. My rat Rita has grown a rash that looks like ringworm and I was looking for some informaion on the internet. Found this. Showered with bleach. Laughed though,symphaty from Spain.

Anonymous said...

Ah!! I love rats!! I have two pet rats, they're so great!

Jessica B said...

I really hope that the current boyfriend from the epilogue is the cute guy from art class.

Auntie Insandity said...

I have no idea how I happened to stumble upon this today, as I sit here with my three beautiful ratties and the world's ugliest rash covering half my body!! :(( But I'm happier NOW! I don't even care that 3 of my caps fell out and I haven't been back to the dentist because you can't really tell (they're at the back) and I'm lazy.

Thanks Hannah!! :) Loved the story and the illustrations!! I'll be back!


Anonymous said...

Rats can get rignworm and it's zoonotic (so it can spread to humans)!

Brenda Carnicom said...

Ok so I was just looking for pictures of plague bacterium for my job. So, I found this and just laughed out loud. And snorted. A lot. At work. I work in a library. I am not a quiet librarian.

Anyway, would it be cool if I used your art of the plague bacteria saying "I wiped out one third of Europe, fool"? Because I'm being forced to create a display for the archives for plague (I work at a university medical library) and I like your picture the best. It will be fully credited to you in the display.

No lie, still probably going to use it anyway, but in any case it will be credited to you and the link to this page provided.

Rokki Winchester said...

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