Well, we're not in Upstate New York anymore, that's for sure. Yes, I've heard about ticks. Deer ticks to be exact. Where we come from a tick bite equals Lyme Disease. I've never seen a tick. I've never known anyone who's seen a tick. Mosquitos? Billions. Garden Snakes? Yup. Bees, wasps, hornets? Check, check, check. A tick? HELL NO. I've seen fleas...and in my mind a tick would look something like a flea. I didn't do much research on what they look like because I planned on never ever encountering them. It's just not something we New Yorkers worry about. Unless you are a hunter or something, which I am not.
Down here in North Carolina? They talk about "tick season." They had a big newspaper spread about protecting yourself from ticks. We're supposed to check ourselves for ticks EVERY TIME WE COME INSIDE FROM OUTDOORS. When Ted showed me the article I gagged a little bit just thinking about the possiblity of a tick being anywhere near me. They warn about tall grass in fields and walking in the woods with shorts, etc. Gross.
Last night we took the cats out in the backyard for a few minutes to enjoy the last of the sunshine for the day. Morty was in his glory rolling around and chasing grasshoppers. Ethel kept busy trying to eat grass. Ted had to chase Morty up the hill in the back yard and physically remove him from it--he was having a ball. We went inside and had dinner and did our normal "hanging out in the evening" routine. As I brushed my teeth last night I heard Teddy crawl into bed. I then heard the covers fly off quickly and his footsteps across the room.
"Weazie?" he asked with concern in his voice. "Do I have a tick on me?"
I grabbed my glasses and made some sort of gasping groaning noise. He lifted his undershirt, and there it was. A tick. I'm barfing as I type this. I shudder just thinking about it. This thing was ginormous and ugly and not anything I ever thought I would see in my lifetime:
I grabbed the tweezers while choking back screams and quickly pulled him off of Ted. He looked, as they say, "engorged," so I think he'd been suckling at poor Teddy for a few hours at least. We gagged and sputtered and shuddered as we threw him in the toilet and tried to figure out how our lives had led us to a place where ticks exist and will ATTACH TO YOU AND EAT YOUR BLOOD. Gah! We flushed the little bastard and stood there looking at each other with wide eyes for a few minutes. We then ran to the internet to find out how long Ted has left to live.
Rocky Mountain spotted fever is the most severe and most frequently reported rickettsial illness in the United States. It also occurs in Mexico and in Central and South America. The disease is caused by Rickettsia rickettsii, a species of bacteria that is spread to humans by ixodid (hard) ticks. Initial signs and symptoms of the disease include sudden onset of fever, headache, and muscle pain, followed by development of rash. The disease can be difficult to diagnose in the early stages, and without prompt and appropriate treatment it can be fatal.
(photo provided courtesy of Rocky Mountain Laboratories, NIAID, NIH, Hamilton, Montana)
We read that the onset of symptoms can be anywhere within 3-5 days of the tick bite. We studied the list of symptoms and Teddy immediately began to feel a fever coming on. I had nausea.
After we changed the sheets and got into bed, we both just sort of laid there trying not to think about it but not being able to do anything BUT think about it. I was itching all over. Ted was counting down the hours until he would get full blown RMSF. We finally fell asleep but woke up groggy and exhausted.
As we dressed for work this morning, Ted pulled a shirt out of the closet and exclaimed "Only 5 more days until I become violently ill!"