I found a tick on my back and now I am going to have to become a recluse; but first I'll burn everything we own and take a bath in bleach.
This was not the type of "connection" I was hoping to make this week. I'd prefer that parasitic arachnids make connections elsewhere, thank you very much.
Confession: this is not the first time this has happened to me. Once, I went on some horrendous field trip to a wildlife refuge somewhere in interior New Jersey that smelled like a skunk, but they said it was just a smelly fox and I ended up with 7 ticks on my body.
They probably leapt on me to get away from the fox that wasn't a skunk but smelled like one.
I cannot blame them. But again, there were other people there! Why choose me?
And before you give me tips on avoiding ticks, I know them all. Hats, I've even treated my clothing with some chemical that repels everyone and everything, I adore DEET even though it is toxic and I keep my long hair under wraps. The only way to truly avoid ticks is to remain a recluse or to move somewhere very, very, very cold that also does not have a Nordstrom.
I imagine there are many of you who have had a tick on your back or who are currently trying to reach behind your back and feel for one. And, I am not a psychic or anything, but I bet one of you will fall victim to a back tick this Spring and Summer. So, because I am a humanitarian (but not a medical professional, of course!), I decided to share my guide for coping with a tick on your back.
But, before I get there, I want to remind you all again that I am not a medical professional nor do I play a medical professional on YouTube. So if you have serious symptoms of something awful, stop reading this and call your doctor!
The moment you discover the tick on your back, you should scream. This is very logical, fundamental advice that transcends emergency arachnid situations. Just scream and scream and scream. If your house is like mine, no one listens to you, so you can scream with reckless abandon and know that no one will come running, although they might "ask you to be quiet because I am on a Zoom."
2. Remain calm.
After you finish screaming, remain calm. You need your wits about you. You cannot be hysterical, because that could scare the tick into burrowing deeper into your back. Plus, no one even listens to a hysterical screaming person. So just calm down, already! PS I have no idea if ticks get scared. They probably mostly get annoyed and try to cover their little tick ears. PPS I don't know if ticks have ears. And I am not Googling it because I do not want ads for tick-products being delivered to me in my social media feeds.
3. Find the tweezers.
I recently reorganized my bathroom, so I actually knew where the tweezers were. Typically, I'd have to order someone to be delivered via drone. Anyway, whatever you have to do, find the tweezers. You need them!
4. Find someone with good fine motor skills, who is fearless and cold blooded.
Actual tick removal requires someone who is completely calm in an emergency and does not mind your screaming (I know I told you stop, but I bet you won't). In my case, I screamed for Chloe, my 12 year old. She is very good with fine motor tasks and is absolutely the type of person with clinical coldness who can complete a tick removal with the precision of a surgeon. Note: Chloe would not, however, be calm if the tick was on her.
5. Get that literal sucker off your body.
At this point, I can tell you that you need to remove the entire tick, head (gag, gag, gag) and all. This is all I know. GET IT OFF YOUR BODY and dispose of it in a fire. (Or like the toilet. Or you can save it as a forensic evidence in a ziplock bag. It's your back tick, you do you.)
6. If you have a rash, DO NOT POST A PHOTO OF IT.
If there is any rash or weirdness at the tick site, please DO NOT photograph it and share in Peloton Moms or the local hiking Facebook group asking for medical advice. NO ONE enjoys seeing pictures of your nasty rashes. CALL YOUR DOCTOR!
7. If you do not have a rash, be prepared for a week of anxiety.
I do not have a rash or any redness, so I currently certain I have neck pain, lymph node pain, swelling and joint pain. I am waiting for a bull's eye rash or cellulitis to set in. I expect a fever and coma by Sunday. Chances are I am totally fine, but the anxiety and paranoia is forever present.
8. Buy all the DEET and burn your clothes.
You will only be able to return to the woods once you have secured all the DEET available in your zip code. I also suggest burning your clothes or at a minimum washing them 17 times on the sanitize cycle of your washing machine. Burning is faster.
9. Check all the people in your household for one month.
My children are already over me saying "LET ME CHECK YOUR BACK." But, they can suck it up. It's better than a tick sucking up all their blood on their back!
10. Allow yourself to scream and cry some more.
The drama of a back tick is real and everlasting for some of us (me). Allow yourself some time to scream, shout, cry and also feel like things are climbing all over your body.
11. But, remember:
You can DO hard things. You can get through this!