Anyone who’s successfully made it through adolescence and into adulthood knows that there is no type of stupidity like the flagrant stupidity of a young person challenged to do something on a dare.
For example, a friend I had when I was young was dared by the neighbor to crank his dog’s Invisible Fence shock collar all the way up and stand over the shock line on the perimeter of their property. The neighbor suggested that he just put the shock collar on his hand and walk over the line, but like any teenage boy worth his salt, he upped the ante. He put that thing right around his neck and crossed the threshold. To this day, I have never heard someone wail quite like he did. (And to this day, I’m not into the idea of people subjecting their animals to that.)
And 28-year-old Sam Ballard knows a thing or two about doing stupid things on a dare. In 2010 when he was 19, the athletic rugby player was hanging with friends and drinking some wine when one of them plucked a slug from the garden, placed it on the table in front of Sam, and said, “I dare you to eat it.”
He obliged, but things quickly went downhill. “Rough-and-tumble Sam,” as his mother called him, had to be rushed to a nearby hospital after collapsing, unable to move.
It was at this point that he was giving a heartbreaking diagnosis. Eating the slug had infected him with rat lungworm.
Rat lungworm is, as the name suggests, usually found in rats but can be found in other animals if they consume or make contact with rat droppings. Unluckily for Sam, that’s what happened with that slug.
Even more devastating is the fact that most people who contract rat lungworm get off without so much as one symptom. In rare cases such as Sam’s, however, devastating brain infections can be contracted. Still, after a bit of time and treatment, it seemed like Sam’s infection was waning and that he was on the mend. Suddenly, though, Sam fell into a coma for 420 and became quadriplegic.
While loved ones tried to stay optimistic, stating that Sam remained in good spirits, there was no denying that the prognosis of probably never walking or being able to live independently again was a crushing blow to such an outgoing, athletic person.
Now at the age of 28, Sam relies on his mother for 24/7 care. He is fed through a feeding tube and family and friends feel there is very little they can do to bring back the bright spirit of their devastated Sam.
This just goes to show you that when someone dares you to do something, you should think long and hard about what the consequences may be in the moments (and in this case, years) after impressing your friends.
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