M. Giant's
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Thursday, May 28, 2009  

Tick Tock

If Trash ever finishes telling you about her Mother's Day, she might mention the part where she and M. Edium explored a nature preserve, and then two days later she found a wood tick latched onto her calf. She pried it off and I imprisoned it alive in a Ziploc bag (which is still around here…somewhere…?), and we monitored the wound for signs of Lyme Disease, which never materialized, which was good because she never had time to go to the doctor and have it looked at anyway.

Cut to this past weekend. As I said on Twitter while we were camping (via cell phone!), we left early on Friday morning so we could get to our favorite spot at one of our favorite campgrounds outside Black River Falls, Wisconsin. When we arrived around noon, a time when the most ambitious of our competition were just setting up their out-of-office e-mail messages, our spot was still open. It's the one just inside the outer loop, with the long, curved driveway and big, flat area for our three-room tent-mansion, bookended with woods on both sides and close (but not too close) to the bathrooms. The very first site M. Edium camped at, when he was eleven months old and still in diapers. Ours again. Ours!

Except someone else had gotten there first.

I don't know how he managed it, but somehow that little brown wood tick stowed away in our camping gear. I found him in our tent while I was setting up the beds. Trash hadn't started the campfire yet and I didn't want to use the table, so I carried it over to the wooden post where you stick your registration ticket and smacked it with the tent-peg mallet, thinking that was the end of it.

It wasn't, though. At about two the next morning, I semi-consciously felt a flat but distinctly foreign lump on Trash's leg, one that didn't seem to want to come off. Trash woke up and removed it herself. After I popped it with my thumbnail and stuffed the bisected corpse under the air mattress, Trash kept asking why I woke her up. I was like, uh, what was I supposed to do? I don't want some tick stuck right where I'm groping you in my sleep.

But then the next morning he was again whole and stuck right below my belly button, as I discovered while waiting for M. Edium outside the bathroom. I would have dropped him into the open tank, but I didn't want that nastiness on him the next time he came back for one of us.

The next victim turned out to be M. Edium, who was playing on the beach with some other boys while we watched at a distance, and then when we went to go collect him for dinner the back of his neck looked like Braille. Our old friend couldn't settle on a spot, it seemed, at least until he latched on right behind my son's ear, on a spot where I couldn't pull him out without taking a few strands of hair as well. The kid was a trooper, though.

By this point, we were checking ourselves and each other every time we changed clothes, and often when we weren't. M. Edium became expert at rotating his head around while submitting to inspections. I guess we should be glad it wasn't a deer tick, the kind that carry Lyme Disease. But the campground employee/guide/whatever had assured us that a deer tick had never been seen in that campground.

On the second night, before bed, I found a deer tick attached to the front of my right hip, surrounded by a bruise that made it look as though I'd been shot with it. At least, it looked like a deer tick, and not the wood one that had been stalking us all weekend. Trash dug out the little reference card that the ranger had given her, but it was hard to make a match by flashlight. Just to be safe, after I removed it I went out to the picnic table and stowed it in a plastic Ziploc bag, to take to the doctor when we got back.

I probably shouldn't have left that bag on the table, because the next morning, Trash used them to store the leftover strawberries. Now we had neither the specimen nor the strawberries.

I've been keeping an eye on the bite though, at least to the extent one can keep an eye on something that's normally covered by one's underwear (good thing I work at home). So at least now it looks less like the logo for the French Air Force and more like a normal bug bite.

I'll keep an eye out for symptoms, though. For instance, if I get slapped by Stephen from The Real World: Seattle, you'll be the first to know.

posted by M. Giant 7:16 PM 5 comments


Crazy - I had a very recent tick encounter as well... but I'm a newb at living in a tick-prone region, so I didn't know to save the bug after removal. Fingers crossed against Lyme disease!

By Blogger illenion, at May 28, 2009 at 11:08 PM  

What is it about that spot behind little boys ears that ticks love? I have pulled more ticks off of that spot on my son than I care to remember.

I am going to be snickering about the last line in this post all day.

By Blogger Jen, at May 29, 2009 at 6:29 AM  

Next time you go camping take some cotton balls and anti-bacterial soap with you. When you have one on you, apply the soap liberally to the cotton ball and place it directly on the tick. Within 15 minutes the tick is out and DEAD. The school nurse at the building I teach in swears it works every time (and she sees kids with ticks this time of year daily).

By Anonymous hobbychanger, at May 29, 2009 at 2:32 PM  

I'm shockingly stuck on "three-room tent-mansion" .

By Blogger KellynGal, at May 29, 2009 at 6:40 PM  

ha! my mind automatically jumped to trw's irene at the first mention of ticks in this entry. i'm glad to see i'm not the only one with this particular association.

By Blogger suddenlyvegan, at May 30, 2009 at 7:50 PM  

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