Tuesday, May 26, 2009

2411 My First Tick

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Becs and I are both experiencing the creepy-crawlies, she from working in her yard, and I from Sunday's woods-walking.

We hate ticks.

The comment I left on her post:
"Ticks are single-minded, bloodsucking, disease-carrying, robotic, spider-like, sneaky, scourges of the earth. They don't even have the excuse that they are a major food source for any other more pleasant beast. I hate them. In Washington we had them walking up the walls, waiting to drop on anyone who entered the room."
And that's their positive attributes.

Almost everyone has a horror story about their first encounter with a tick. (And with leeches, which are, as far as I'm concerned, merely aquatic ticks, but with the saving grace that you can usually look at a body of water, and say "That's full of leeches", and stay out of the water, and the freaky things at least won't crawl out of the water to get you, like ticks would. Leeches don't follow you home. And they squash easily. Sheesh. How bad do you have to be to be considered lower than a leech?)

I picked up my first (known) tick in third grade. The new school had been built on a cow pasture (there were still cows on the other side of the playground fence), backing up to woods and a wide creek. Prime tick country.

One day my mother was brushing my hair and kept hitting a bump on my scalp on the top of my head. She parted the hair, and completely freaked out. The skin was swollen and red and puffed up, and in the middle of the puffiness was a huge beige-gray leathery "thing". She'd never seen a tick before. She totally panicked.

She called the doctor, who laughed, calmed her down, told her it was, given the size, an adult tick, and that she should lift it with her fingernail and pull it off. (This was pre-Lyme, and nobody worried about squeezing ticks.)

The skin was so swollen that the tick was completely embedded, and she couldn't get under it to lift it.

Now, this is the part I don't understand. My mother was not stupid. With all the tools at her disposal, I don't understand why she chose the one she did.

She picked up a pair of large dressmaker shears, opened the blades, and used the point of one thick sharp blade to dig into my scalp all around the tick. She bared bone, swearing the whole time. I had a weeping hole for a while, and a bald spot for decades.

For a very long time after, when I felt threatened by something in life, I had nightmares of the ground thickly covered with tiny black crawling things advancing on me.

I hate ticks.

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