Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year, New Phobia

A few days ago I discovered that I was a mere 32 finds away from 400, so I made it my goal to reach that mark before the end of the year. Like many, I had Friday off, so I decided to do a newly-posted numbers run. It was wonderful - one of the best caching experiences of my life. The weather was perfect, there were hardly any muggles around, and the caches were super easy. I walked over 5 miles and eventually I reached my goal.

We had plans to go out for New Year's with EyeoftheSeeker and his wife, so as soon as I got home I headed for the bathroom to shower. There, I discovered, a few inches above my navel, a black lump. I tried to brush it off, thinking it was a wood fleck or stray fuzz, but it didn't move. I looked down and saw tiny black legs. I gave it a little tug, but the tick was firmly embedded.

I immediately went to Brian, shirt in hand. "I have a tick. I don't know what to do," I said, pointing to my stomach, voice trembling.
He just looked at me, unfazed, "You have to take it out."
"Yeah, I know THAT. I don't know what to do. This has never happened to me before. Do I use a lighter? A match? Is that an old wive's tale? I don't know."
"Get a butter knife and a lighter." He said this with stone cold apathy.

I grabbed a butter knife, a paper towel, and one of those long lighters you use to light a grill. I've never seen this done before, but I had the impression that you tap the tick on the ass with something hot, he dances out, apologizes like a freakin' Canadian, and submits to a swift execution.

I held the butter knife in the flame until Brian told me to stop, and then I hovered over my belly with it. Realizing I was not capable of this, I handed the knife to Brian and looked away. With one hand he braced my stomach, holding the knife with the other. He tapped the tick and its legs kicked wildly. I whimpered. "Here it comes," Brian said, but it didn't. He did it again, same deal. This time he also tried to brush the tick away with the paper towel, causing it to do something that hurt very much. I yelped and owww'd and finally started to understand what our pets go through at the vet. We tried this several more times while I hyperventilated and grasped the counter for moral support. "Just get it out! I don't care!" This time, Brian grabbed it with the paper towel and with a smooth yanking motion the blasted thing was out.

Brian told me to put all my clothes in the washing machine, with extra cycles. After that, I did a very thorough tick-check and took a shower. We went out, watched the ball drop from the comfort of our living room, kissed at midnight, and drank champagne, yada yada yada. I checked the bite occasionally, which is now all red and welty. I did a fair amount of research on the subject and learned that we should have used tweezers, but whatever.

Today was destined to be low-key. I woke up at a reasonable hour, but lazed around in my pajama pants and watched movies with Brian. About halfway through Jaws I adjusted my position on the sofa and felt an achy pain on the back of my leg/butt cheek. Yeah, I said it. Butt cheek. I went to the bathroom and discovered an implanted and very swollen tick #2. The area around the bite was all red, telling me this thing had been there for a while. There's no way I missed it during my tick check yesterday, so this one got on me later. I went back to Brian and announced this with as much profanity as possible.

I went around the kitchen again gathering the necessary tools, as well as a pair of tweezers and a baggie so we could keep this specimen. This time, I was nauseous. I gave the stuff to Brian, grabbed a blankie and laid face down on the carpeted living room floor (the BEST place to be handling an open flame). I balled up the blanket and hugged it, watching Brian's reflection in the glass door of our tv console as he heated up the knife. We went through the same tap and squirm routine. Again, I whined in an exaggerated fashion. This little guy REALLY didn't want to let go. I felt extra sick when the tick ripped in half, terrified that I would now have to go to the ER and have this thing surgically removed. Brian, ever the skilled surgeon, was able to extract the head, thankfully. This tick had definitely been in for much longer, so it left a visible puncture that is very sore and stung like hell when I cleaned it.

This time, the post-extraction activities included stripping the bed and spraying the inside of my car with bug spray. We also did a tick check of eachother. It wasn't nearly as fun as the Brad Paisley song makes it out to be. Brian had the presence of mind to check the shoes I wore yesterday. Like a huge moron, I took them off and left them in the laundry room. When he sprayed my shoes, another tick came shooting out. I think (hope) that's where tick #2 came from.

The last time I dealt with ticks was when we went geocaching in South Carolina and ended up covered in seed ticks. I was lucky that none of them attached. I had no idea this is how the whole tick thing goes down. Now I get to watch for signs of Lyme disease and panic every time I get an itch.

Interestingly enough, when my sister-in-law came down with Lyme disease, I did a little blog post about it. Apparently I forgot all my own advice:

To prevent Lyme disease, Wikipedia recommends wearing long-sleeved shirts, trousers, and a hat. Light colors are recommended because they allow you to see the ticks if they do hitch a ride. Pants should be tucked into boots or socks...but unless you're a commando, that looks pretty dweeby. I don't personally recommend it. Plus, I can tell you from experience, ticks go right through socks. You don't want them exposed. Wikipedia also recommends reducing the local deer population. I suppose you could take it upon yourself to do that.

If you do find a tick with it's head burrowed into your skin, pull it out with tweezers. And for God's sake, don't twist! I've always heard you should apply a flame to the tick to make it back out, but I would imagine that is advised against. Brian's preferred method is "draining" the with a needle. Or, "pop it like a grape."

Anyway, I have all kinds of other stories from yesterday, but we'll save that for another posting.

1 comment:

  1. Those damn things are so annoying. I get worried any time I head into the woods where they might be hanging around. Besides caching, I also play a lot of disc golf -- which is often in woods, too. Argh these damn suckers!