(Before we begin: there are a couple of new tshirts & prints up at Society6! Take a look! Sport a Paul, or a different Paul, or a Probability Magnet!)

A few days ago I went to the vet and discovered that Paul has mange mites on his paw, and that said mites are (hopefully) the reason he’s been licking the hell out of said paw for over a year.

This reminds me of a story. When I was studying abroad in St. Petersburg, several of my friends make significant discoveries about their (ill) health. In most contexts, this would be considered a bad thing, but these friends had (independently) been suffering from their conditions for several years, and had been told by doctors in the US that nothing was wrong with them.

My friend C., for instance, had been troubled by some sort of stomach malady for over a year, and her doctors finally recommended that she visit a psychologist, because they could discern nothing physically wrong with her. She visited a psychologist, and that didn’t help either. Annoyed, she came to Russia with the rest of us and tried to forget about it.

Fast forward a couple of months. I was walking to the apartment of a little girl I tutored in English, and I happened to run into C. coming out of a bakery. She threw her arms around me, beaming, and said: “Great news! I have PARASITES! I’m going to get a cake!”

Apparently she’d picked up some nasty parasites while living in D.C., and because they’re uncommon in the U.S. no doctor had thought to test for them. In Russia, however, travelers often pick up that sort of nastiness, so they were found as part of a routine check. It was clear C. hadn’t picked the parasite up in St. Pete, however, because they were so advanced she needed at least 3 courses of treatment (normally you’d need one) to wipe them out.

Anyway, that’s exactly how I felt when the vet called me and said he’d found something on Paul’s paw. Mange mites! Let’s buy a cake! Happy Fourth of July!