July 1, 2019 - Robert John Hadfield

Tearing Off the Fear

Facing the Leach


You’ve probably heard the word “leach” throughout your life. It’s a horrible little creature that attaches to your body and literally sucks blood. Just the thought of it is repulsive and frightening. The idea of having a leach attached to your body gives many people the chills.

And leaches really are horrible looking creatures. They look like a very small thin earthworm, with a brown or deep red color. They don’t move like worms at all, the move almost like a slinky. The two ends of this worm-like creature act as feet and it stands up in an unside down “U” shape and literally walks itself like a slinky along the ground.

This last week I was hiking in the Himalayas and saw a leach walking along a rock in the path. I kneeled down and took a short video. I forgot about it as quickly as I discovered it.

A couple of hours later we walked into our guesthouse for the evening. They said they had hot water (which is often rare in Asia, let along the middle of the Himalayas), so I was the first to hit the bathroom and take a shower. I went through the normal routine washing my face, hair, etc. And then I looked down and noticed blood running down my leg. It shocked me to say the least. And as I followed the blood I noticed two leaches attached to my left thigh. I panicked a bit and wrestled them off. It wasn’t easy, they attach themselves pretty firmly. I finally got them off and tried to kill them, but they are more slippery than a snail and no amount of squishing accomplished anything.

And the blood kept coming.

As it turns out, leaches inject an anticoagulant into your blood to make sure he blood keeps flowing. So when you pull them off, it takes a long time before the bleeding stops.

Over the course of the next two days I was hit again by leaches about twenty times. Amazingly, you kinda get used to the idea. And as I discussed leaches with others during the trek, we all agreed that mosquitoes are worse. At least leaches don’t leave an itchy sore you have to contend with for days after. You can’t really feel leaches attach. They do their business and then they leave. At worst you have a little red mark on your skin.

The idea of having a leach attached to your body is absolutely frightening, until it happens. And amazingly, it’s not so bad.

How often do we have similar things in our lives. We fear the unknown and we build up those fears to a point that they can paralyze us. It can be a financial concern, an interview, a meeting, a sickness, whatever. Then when the thing actually happens, it’s not nearly as bad as we imagined.

It’s important for us to keep that in mind. Being bitten by a leach is a hundred times worse in your imagination than in real life. And most of the things we fear are.


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