Sunday, May 27, 2012

Melissa vs. The Tick

I suppose only those who have considered a career in entomology are the only folks who can truly say that they love, really, really love, those tiny, slimy, scary, horrifying creatures who crawl, buzz, bite, and sting.  Yes, that's right...I am talking, of course, about BUGS.  It's a well known fact that most of us have an aversion to these disgusting members of the animal world, but you'll be hard pressed to find a family who hates them more than the Weinstein's.

I blame our bug-o-phobia as the reason we avoid going where insects naturally live, namely, the outdoors.  Our idea of a hike involves a walk down the driveway to get the mail.  Our idea of camping involves making reservations at the closest Hampton Inn.   Forget about throwing open the windows to allow the fresh spring air into the house, because creepy crawlers could find their way through the miniscule holes in the screen, invading our home and sentencing us to live under their supreme command!

Today, at 14, Melissa has overcome the aversion to the outdoors,(her parents have not) and has since hiked and boated, enjoying both activities immensely.  However, two years ago, when she learned that her end of year sixth grade class trip would involve a trip to a nature conservancy, complete with hiking, boating, and becoming one with the woods, she greeted the prospect with caution.

Sure enough, the note home warned parents to be sure their children wore long sleeves and long pants, and doused themselves with plenty of bug repellent.  Melissa complied, of course, and, with every inch of her skin covered with the horrible smelling spray promising to keep the creepy crawlers away, off she went.

Thus, her day of  "extreme nature" came to a close without incident....or so we thought.

Later that evening, much later.....the middle of the night, in fact..... the sound of danger awoke me with a start from a deep, sound sleep.

"MOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!!!!!!" came the terrified cry of my offspring, now standing at the side of my bed.

I jumped up, filled with fear, thinking the worst, and ready for combat.  A groggy glance at the clock put the time at 2:00 am.

"WHAT'S WRONG?  WHAT'S WRONG?" came  my panicked reply.


Oh.  That's all, I thought.  From the sound of her screaming, I had assumed that perhaps she had broken her arm, fractured her skull, was bleeding from ever orifice, etc.  A tick, in my opinion, did not constitute an emergency.  However, my daughter, convinced of her impending death, begged to differ.

I flicked on the light and took stock of the situation.  Sure enough, a tick had embedded itself in her upper thigh, no doubt enjoying a hearty diet of "Melissa-flavored" blood.

Bob, who now realized that further attempts to sleep amid the chaos would be pointless, decided to lend his "expertise" to the situation.  "You could try pulling it out with a pair of tweezers," he suggested.

Great.  Bug surgery at 2:00 am.  I couldn't wait.

I walked into the "operating room" (my bathroom) with the patient in tow.  Melissa sat down on the toilet, trying to stem her tears, and worrying that if the tick didn't kill her, my attempts at a surgical removal surely would.  I shuffled through my makeup bag in search of the advanced technological equipment I would use to perform this delicate procedure, namely, the tweezers I use to pluck my eye brows (and grey hairs).

Next, I performed the comprehensive, clinical sterilization of said surgical equipment.  This involved a desperate search for alcohol, which I found hidden in the back of the medicine cabinet behind cough medicine, ear drops, and band aids.  I poured the alcohol all over the tweezers until I was sure, based on my years of medical training, (none), that all germs had been removed.

With the extensive preparations now complete, the surgery would now commence.

With precision accuracy, I grasped the tick with the tweezers and pulled.

Nothing happened.

I pulled again.

Nothing happened.

I pulled again.

Boy, this stupid tick seemed determined never to leave Melissa-land.

I pulled again.  This time it seemed to wiggle, just a bit.


Sigh.  So much for my years of medical training. (None)

At this point in the delicate surgery, Bob decided to come in and serve as my surgical assistant, a move not really appreciated by the patient or me.  In response to his suggestions of "try it this way, try it that way,"  I thrust the tweezers in his face and offered him the chance to take over the role as surgeon, an opportunity he flatly denied.

Finally, the tick began to budge, and using all of my strength and determination, I pulled that dang thing out of Melissa's thigh.  Or at least I pulled out most of it.  No doubt, a few dark spots remained....enough for the creature to come back to life as a zombie tick, and wreck havoc on my daughter's insides.

I knew that ticks carried the threat of Lyme disease, however, I also knew we had found the little devil early, and could start Melissa on preemptive medication should the doctor deem in necessary.  Therefore, on a scale of 1 to 10, my level of worry at that moment hovered around a 3, and I tried to convince my still terrified daughter to go back to bed, a command she promptly disobeyed.

Finally, with the reassurance that she could miss school in favor of an emergency trip to the doctor first thing in the morning, she drifted off to sleep.  As the new day dawned, I frantically made calls and emails to reschedule meetings and assignments, then begged the doctor's office to please squeeze my daughter into their hectic schedule so they could convince her she was not going to die.

Sure enough, the doctor said her chances of contracting Lyme were very minimal, and she didn't even need any antibiotics.

Melissa: 1
Tick: 0

Game over!
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  1. Well, shoot, Lisa. Now you cannot ever come and visit me. I will simply have to come to New Jersey. All of you would DIE at my house. I live smack dab in the woods and pulling a tick off something or somebody either inside or outside of our house is nearly a daily occurrence. I have probably had hundreds of ticks in my lifetime, and last summer, I even got Cellulitis from a tick bite wound. That DID require antibiotics and a steroid cream and I still lived. The next time y'all get a tick, get on a plane and head to central IL... I know tick surgery. LOL!

    1. Hi Cindy! I will definitely take you up on your offer - my fellow "surgeon"! LOL!

  2. I grew up in Colorado and a trip to the mountains always came with the fear and dread of ticks. They are horrible little creatures (especially when magnified 1,000 times in photos). I can totally relate. We have ticks in Indiana too but you usually only have to worry about them if you go in the foresty areas and thankfully I don't do that very often. I know they are little but they sure instill fear, don't they? Thanks for the great blog. I really enjoyed it! Learned about you from the A to Z Challenge. Thanks for visiting my blog, too!

    1. Thanks for visiting Diane! I agree, I never want to look at these things under a microscope!

  3. Very funny, as always, Lisa. I could feel the tension building. Would the surgery be a success? Would the tick stay forever embedded in Melissa's skin? So glad to know it wasn't Lyme disease. But, all the same, better safe than sorry.

    1. Thanks Monica!! And today my husband, who never goes outside, finds a tick on his stomach?