Saturday, 29 December 2012

The fear factor: Bdellophobia

I have just had a bath and was drying myself in front of a mirror in the bedroom when I saw, through the mirror, a big black spot on my thigh. I took a closer look at the black spot and saw it squirming.

As far as I can remember, that was the loudest scream I have ever made in my entire life. I shouted for help while jumping up and down in the room, obviously forgotten that I was only clad in a towel.
Mom came in to rescue me.  When I showed her the black, wriggling thing on my thigh with my eyes tightly shut, to my surprise, she screamed too! Because there was no one else in the house at that time except for my two younger sisters and a baby brother (my father was at work), we did not know what to do.

“Oh mom! I’m gonna die! I am definitely going to die!”
I cried my heart out, still jumping, while mom frantically tried to find a stick to remove the black spot. It was a leech. A huge one!

After about half an hour or so, the leech was finally detached from my skin. Not because mom kept poking it with a skewer (Yeah, that’s right. OMG!) but because it had drained up all my blood and now it felt a bit dizzy with this non-stop jumping activity of the host so it decided to take a leap of faith from high above and landed a splat on the floor. Looks like suicide to me.
That was my first encounter with a leech. I was only ten then. Apparently, the incident left a remarkably scary impression of a ferocious blood-sucking beast in my mind until… yesterday.

We had a family gathering yesterday at my sister-in-law’s house. We ate, talked and laughed merrily.  The whole night was all about food, politics, movie, gadgets, and futsal too. After some while, my SIL brought out a plastic container wrapped nicely in a black plastic bag. When asked what was inside the container, she took it out and showed the content to everyone – LEECHES. Very alive and aggressive too. The sight of the leeches gave me goose bumps. It reminded me my horrible experience with a leech long time ago.
“Anybody wanna have this leeches suck up your dirty blood and perhaps solve some of your health problem?” She offered.

“Such as what?” I asked.
“Sinus, migraine, pimples, pus, delicate backache, gout, in short, anything associated with dirty blood”
 [photo courtesy of Encyclopaedia Brittanica]

I have heard about medicinal leeches used in reconstructive surgery, or for treating abscessess, painful joints, glaucoma, and in some cases, microvascular surgery (more information here).   But honestly, I am not sure if this curing method using leeches to suck impure blood as suggested by my SIL would work. Even if it really works, I have doubts that only doing it once will instantly solve the health problem. I believe it needs to be done repetitiously in order to see results. Just like we repetitiously take antibiotics to cure influenza. As a matter of fact, the main application of medicinal leeches in modern medicine is to help with blood circulation and to prevent blood clot during major surgery. So how does sucking dirty blood from a person’s temple help him/her get rid of his/her migraine problem?  *scratch head*
Anyway, with a different objective in mind, I decided to let these blood-sucking slimy squirmy little creatures with powerful jaw sink their sharp, devilish teeth to do what they do best: suck blood! (credits go to Hugh Laurie from House for giving me a lesson or two on using magical sarcastic words!) Not to cure any illness in me, but to overcome Bdellophobia: the fear of leeches.

So here are the pictures of the medicinal leeches sticking at the back of my hubby (always the best model for a photography session!) and sucking on the so called impure blood of his to cure backache.

Also here is the picture of my SIL’s husband who threw a ceremonial feast for the spineless creatures all night long to cure his sinus. LOL.

Just look at the fantastic incision made by a medicinal leech. It has a strong tripartite jaw and hundreds of tiny teeth that cut into the skin in a sawing motion and leave behind an incision mark in the form of inverted Y within a circle. Neat!  

[photo courtesy of Carsten Morkel]

At the end of the session, I figured out that the word ‘fear’ is not so suitable for me because it’s not the feeling of fear of leeches that I felt inside me. It’s more of the disgusting feelings of ‘ewh’ and ‘yucky’ that overwhelm me when I encounter these creepy-crawlies and that include maggots and caterpillars too.

 And oh! By the way, the picture below is the bag of dirty blood from 7 people in the family sucked by about 20 leeches altogether. Can you see the mouth of the leech [enlarge the pic] within the plastic bag?  Yucks!

In conclusion, I am brave enough to say that I am not afraid of leeches after all. But one thing I am totally sure, I am afraid of my creator, Allah The Almighty.


  1. well this was certainly informative. i think i now view leeches in a new regard!!

  2. Good for you! Some people (including me) have always regard leeches as harmful, dangerous creatures when they are actually not. What more when some movie producers portray leeches as evil monsters that kill many people. I am sure you have watched "Tremors" some time ago.

    Anyway, I am glad to know that I am not afraid of the leeches. Maybe you should try put it in your palm and overcome your fear, just like I did. ;-)

    Take care sis! *hugs*

  3. I'd go for hijamah instead. The leeches look too slimy for my preference :)

  4. For medical purpose, I agree with you 100%. Hijamah is by far better than leeches.

    But from its physical of being a slimy and devilish-looking creature, the leech can't scare me anymore. Yay!

  5. Haha, congrats to you then :)

    I feel leeches crawling on my skin as I type this. Ewwww.

    1. lol. I still have these goose bumps too!



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