My cactus-needle-plucking good Samaritan

As most of you know, I’ve been struggling to remove cactus needles from my hands and mouth ever since my rescue from Big Bend Ranch State Park.

First, I want to thank all of those who have called with or emailed suggestions. I so appreciate it.

I’ve soaked my hands, used glue, Duck tape, baking soda and salve. But the needles embedded in my hands and mouth look like small, fine hairs. And they’re barbed. My last resort: hot wax, per the suggestion of websites devoted to cactus-needle removal.

Yesterday, I got another phone call, this time from a man — Terry Holler — who works at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s print shop.

Terry, it turns out, is a licensed massage therapist. But the magical words he uttered were:

“I have an industrial hot wax machine.”

I resisted the impulse to declare my love. But I was, well, rather enthusiastic in my reaction to this news.

“I can bring it tomorrow,” he told me. “It takes two or three hours to heat up.”

No problem, I assured him. Just call me when it’s ready.

The timing was perfect. You see, in the past few days, my body started to reject the needles, just as doctors said it would. This process involves raised, pus-filled blisters, which help force the needles to the surface of the skin.

Today, around 1 p.m., I headed over to the print shop.

Here’s a before photo of one of my afflicted fingers:


Forefinger on my left hand.

Now imagine those blisters all over both hands. Ugh.

Once at the print shop, I dipped each hand into hot wax. Then Terry bagged them up and stuck what appeared to be oven mitts over the bags.

And then we waited.

Once the wax cooled, he peeled it off. Now the blisters were even more prominent. And the needles were even more visible.

Terry took a pair of tweezers and set to work.

I managed not to yelp too often. But my sighs, heavy, “relaxed” breathing and various panicked noises indicated my, er, wussiness.

Bearing in mind that needle removal in the hospital involved a hefty dose of morphine, I thought I was rather restrained, however. At least I didn’t sound like a woman in labor.

Each time Terry plucked out a needle, he held up his magnifying glass so that I could get a good look at it.

And, wow. No wonder I’ve been in pain.

Some of the needles fell to the floor before Terry could lay them on one of the oven mitts. But of those he saved, we counted 11.

So yeah. He managed to get more than 11 teensy little hairlike needles out of my hands and fingers.

The man deserves a medal.

I can’t thank him enough.


5 thoughts on “My cactus-needle-plucking good Samaritan

  1. Bless your heart, woman! You’ve been going around with these things in your hands for the past couple of weeks? You are one tough mama. And I’m glad Terry helped you out, hot wax and all!


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