Friday, May 14, 2010

Take That, Mr. Tick


Two mornings ago, I woke up with tenderness in my right shin. Sleepily, I reached down, felt a little bump and assumed I'd scratched myself and it was only now beginning to hurt. Drawing my leg closer to my face, I noticed the "scab" shifted as I rubbed my finger across it, and when I pulled it away, realized it was a tick. Drat, I thought, a blasted Ixodes tick, the notorious carrier of Borrelia Burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme Disease.

Curiously, the little guy looked dead; he wasn't moving, nor had he managed to engorge himself with blood, as one might expect. Still somewhat groggy, it took a second for me to remember I actually do have blood coursing through my veins, so why he failed to get breakfast was a mystery. I got up, put the carcass aside for safe-keeping, wiped the spot with alcohol and applied bacitracin, a topical antibiotic, thinking I'd watch it for a few days and see what developed.

Fast forward to this morning. I was taping The West Wing as usual, when I glanced at my shin and saw the bite mark had developed the appearance of a small target -- bull's-eye rash or erythema chronicum migrans, the initial telling symptom of Lyme Disease. It wasn't as obvious as the examples we'd been shown in bacteriology, but close enough to make me uncomfortable. So, I wasted no time in arranging a quick visit to the doctor who agreed, it looked sufficiently suspicious to warrant empirical treatment with doxycycline, the drug of choice for adults.

The remaining question, however, is where did the little guy come from? I think it's likely he hitched a ride on my dog -- a fatal error in judgment. You see, my dog wears a potent flea and tick collar while we're walking, and I think Mr. Tick got a good dose of canine hemlock. Nauseated, dizzy, and delirious, he fell into the bed during the night and staggered toward my leg, muttering, "Must...bite...human, fulfill...purpose...must...bite...human."

With an effort that would make Shakespeare envious, he heaved himself onto my leg and thrust his fangs (or whatever ticks have) as far into my skin as he could. It reminds me of a scene from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn. Ricardo Montalban aka Kahn aka Mr. Rourke from Fantasy Island, attempts to destroy Captain Kirk one final time. As he reaches for the button to engage the Genesis Device, he says, quoting Moby Dick, "To the last, I will grapple with thee...from hell's heart, I stab at thee...for hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee."

Yeah, well, here's the thing. Poetic or not, you're dead, I'm alive and starting doxy. Take that, Mr. Tick.


(Creative Commons image of Ricardo Montalban as Kahn by MHJohnston via Flickr)
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