It started with a slight tickle. Then, an itch. Followed by a true bother. Half distracted by a conversation with my dog, letting her know what a sweetheart I thought she was, I reach back towards my right shoulder blade, my fingers stretching out towards the left side of my right bra strap. I swish my fingers around using them as a brush to blindly identify the culprit. That’s when I felt it… a ball of some sort that began to move and then I swatted at it, again blindly, trying to get rid of it… all the while screeching and jumping and then thump. I heard it hit the carpet. Looking I could not see where it had ended up. I rushed to the bathroom, pulling off my nightgown then turned so that my back faced the vanity mirror. There it was – an angry red back shoulder with a small bumpy flesh mound at its center. It must have been a fully fed tick.
A bulbous parasite that had been clinging to my back for … how long? The recollection of its size by feel only, suggests it was big and the sound of it dropping to the carpet confirmed that- yes, big. Big is good because generally the more dangerous ticks are tiny, right? Yes. I believe so. Big is better than tiny.
And then a follow up thought.
One is meant to carefully remove the tick, not yank it out. Yanking it out could have adverse consequences. Infection. Disease. These thoughts race through my mind. I must find the bugger… I must find him or her. Her is worse than him. If it’s a her- more likely to dispense disease. And, if I can find her or him, well then I might be able to identify the type and that can make the difference between a bother and a real quandary.
So back on my hands and knees I go, scurrying around the perimeter of the bed attempting to find the possible tick. On the Ivory Berber carpet, it should not be that hard to locate the insect. And sure enough, within less than a minute I find a Sunflower seed shape that is a bit more ballooned in size than most Sunflowers. It’s about a 1/4 of an inch in size total- counting the full bulb. The insect itself is actually quite tiny- tiny little legs and moving head. Hopefully, all its parts are with it and none still in my back. I retrieve a jar and relocate the bug on the carpet and then sweep it into the jar using the lid as an instrument of help. Jar sealed with a tight twist- it’s not going anywhere now. The tick begins its mobile exploration of the bottom of the jar, with the large bulb atop its body.
And, I go to work on Google.
All kinds of searches follow. In hindsight, I realize I have had the itch for a while. I just can’t remember how long. The internet helps me out with time frame because it shows the size of ticks as they grow. The size of mine suggests days- maybe almost a week. How is this possible? I have showered every day. I have toweled off every day. I have put clothes on and have taken them off. I have slept on my back, rolled to the side and back again. Again, how on Earth could that tick have hitchhiked its way onto my body for days and days without notice? It’s creepy and freaky all at the same time.
And then, there are the questions: Deer Tick or Wood Tick? Looking at internet pictures, it’s hard to tell at the stage this bug is in. Some deer ticks cover themselves up entirely of a gray brown bulb once having accomplished an almost weeklong feed. While some show the copper color body- others do not as they are covered in the bubble from the sucking of blood for days on end. All of this has me completely grossed out and frazzled.
I call the pharmacy, do I need to get seen right away? Can it wait?
After describing the insect, the pharmacist surmises it is likely an ordinary wood tick, and generally those are harmless. Tomorrow will be fine. I should go in just to be safe. It is possible they will put me on a course of antibiotics. Bring the tick with you.
So, it’s back to the bedroom- new nighty and a quick wash of my back which I receive from my mother. And I wonder, if I had been living alone, I would have had no one to help me tend the newly formed crater on my back. A sad thought. Glad I am not yet in that predicament.
I recheck my dog for ticks, maybe she brought this enemy to me. More likely, I just got it from the trees outside. There are lots of ticks in these Minnesota woods. Sofie is fine- I apply her flea and tick preventative which was only a few days overdue.
As I lay in bed, I have weird itchy sensations in other parts of my body. I had done a thorough check but can’t quite bat away the gnawing tickles that now randomly make themselves known on my hip, in the small of my back, around my earlobe. Images of wavy legs and a mouth that wants to pierce my skin and hang on begin to form in my mind.
It will be difficult to sleep. I have a long night ahead.