June 09, 2015

Tik Tok

This morning, at 6:45am, I was foam rolling my hamstrings to prepare for my workout with my friend and trainer, Tamara. I noticed a small scab on the side of my knee that looked like it was about to fall off, and picked at it absently, wondering what it was from (and assuming it was a fairly standard accidental cat-claw puncture from an overzealous kneading session).

I kept scraping at it, and it wouldn't pop off. Which was weird, because it was already mostly unattached to my skin - just it was seemingly SUPER ATTACHED at one end.

I finally turned my full attention to it, because if a wee 2mm scab is only attached by one microscopic section to your skin, normally it just comes right off, you know? But after some (surprisingly firm) tugging, the scab came off.

....which is when I realized it was a tick.


Now, having spent my childhood at Farm School, I'm more than a little familiar with ticks. I used to find them on me all the time (and casually brush them off if I did!), and my mom used to have both my sister and I sit on the floor every night while she picked through our hair looking for stowaways on our scalps.

Yet in all the years I was there, and despite all of the ticks I or my mom found on me... none had ever actually bitten me. At least that I was aware of.

And here I am, living in the ostensibly not-very-ticky suburbs right outside of a major city, and I have this fucker latched onto my leg.

I know exactly where he found me, too. Saturday night was Chris's 15 year highschool reunion, which was held at the fairly awe-inspiring campus of their private school, right in the middle of Cleveland Park. The school is on a ton of land and surrounded by wooded paths, which we were exploring. Here is the view of the back of the school from the woods:

As we exited the woods into the long grass in the foreground, I turned to my friend (whose photo I stole here) and announced, probably more dramatically than was strictly necessary, that this was "totally Tick City."

I was assured the grass was too short for that to be true. But guys, I went to Farm School. I know my tick infested areas.

I just wish I wasn't proven right quite THIS way.

After I pulled Ticky McParasite off this morning, I examined him under a light to confirm my diagnosis ("tick") and commented, "at least it was just a dog tick and not a deer tick!" right before washing that fucker down the drain.

....but then I started thinking about it. It was about the size of a small dog tick, like maybe the size of a black sesame seed. Which would be a small dog tick BEFORE feeding. This one was nearly translucent in parts because it was so full of my stupid tasty blood. Which means? Much, MUCH more likely that this was a deer tick, aka Bringer Of Lyme, that had been happily chowing down on my lifeblood for the past few days. Awesome.

(Also I think that means that Grossface McShitTick is probably also female. Whatever.)

So! Next stop was to google "What Do You Do After Being Bitten By A Deer Tick?" since despite my childhood, this had never actually happened.

I learned that the chances of Lyme are slim in general, although obviously higher here in the Mid-Atlantic region. But most interestingly, that it's nearly impossible to contract unless the tick has been feeding for 36 hours or more. And that ticks are often hanging out on your body, casing the joint (I assume), for up to 24 hours before digging in.

Exposure: Saturday night, 7pm ish.
Probable time I became a victim to a vampire parasite: Sunday night
Approx # of hours between bite and location/murder of tick: 36

So. That's reassuring in that it is NOT AT ALL REASSURING. Stay tuned for the thrilling updates on my obsessive checks to see if the EM bullseye pattern emerges on my leg!

(Also, I apologize for anyone who is now compulsively scratching the shit out of themselves, feeling as if ticks are crawling all over you, exactly like I am now doing.)


  1. A few months ago I pulled a tick off of Elizabeth. I remembered that you're supposed to really, really kill them, not just flush them or whatever, so I put it in a paper towel, lit the thing on fire, and put whatever was left down the garbage disposal. Then I looked up "What to do about a tick bite" and found "SAVE THE TICK TO SHOW THE DOCTOR." Greaaaaaaaaaat.

    I didn't take her to the doctor, partly because I was embarrassed about neglecting to save the tick, and partly because of a story an acquaintance recently told me about her pediatrician refusing to do anything about a tick bite and acting as if she (the mom) was being hysterical over nothing. My doctor does not act that way, but I DO SO HATE feeling like I'm being hysterical over nothing.

    Since then, of course, it feels as if half the people I know have been diagnosed with Lyme, so I'm feeling worse and worse about not taking her in, and have been anxiously watching Elizabeth for signs of Lifelong Debilitating Illness That Is All Her Mother's Fault.

    1. HA, that was my first reaction upon researching too! Uh, I was supposed to have KEPT IT? Ew. And too late.

      HOWEVER I also read that even if you had taken her in, apparently most doctors do prefer a "wait and see" approach - eg wait and see if you get a rash / start getting symptoms, since testing for Lyme is super unreliable (lots of false positives) and the dose of doxy that they recommend to knock it out (if you catch it in, like, the first 72 hrs) is not recommended for kids or several other large subsets of the population. SO basically there is no good course here, but none of the potential outcomes for Elizabeth will be due to your fault :)

  2. MAN you know your ticks. If I saw one full of my blood I would panic and... uh. I don't even know. Panic some more? Presumably you don't have Lyme, but aghhhhhh. Agreed with Swistle that it suddenly feels like everybody and their brother is being diagnosed with Lyme.

    1. Seriously - back when we were kids it was this Terrible Mysterious Thing that we'd heard of, but no one we knew actually GOT. Now it seems to be popping up everywhere.

      (I hope that is incorrect. Go away Lyme plz.)

  3. Yup, totally scratching myself everywhere now. Also don't mind me if I ask you every single day how you feel and do you have a bulls eye rash on you. (I HOPE YOU WILL NOT.)

  4. So glad I didn't read this while eating lunch. EWWW. Thankfully I haven't seen any ticks here in the burbs of Chicago but there are plenty of ticks up in my parents place in MI so I will be obsessively checking myself, my daughter, and my dog (my husband can check himself). :-)

  5. I have never actually seen a tick. I mean, I'm pretty sure they exist in our mountains, but...never seen one, was hardly warned about them as a kid. We are too dry to really have "woods" for them to hide in....but yeah, it was never a thing. Rattlesnakes, however, and mountain lions were ALWAYS a thing. Always.

    Also, ticks are gross.


  6. Personally I am tick-ignorant, and hoping to stay that way (like a coworker I once had who said of grits, "I've never tried them, and pretty sure I'll be able to say that tomorrow"). But I am itching now, yes. Ewwwwwww!

  7. I don't think I've ever seen a tick before. Would I even know a tick if one was stuck to me?! THIS IS SCARY.