For some reason when I get back to the USA, I always get some kind of weird malady that knocks me for a short-term loop. I was bedridden with the flu one year when it wasn't flu season. Another time I was diagnosed with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (whew!)...read that dizziness due to ear crystals. How crazy is that? The most painful episode, however, was Lyme's Disease due to a tiny, tiny critter called a tick.
I was wondering if ticks are everywhere or just where I happened to be. Well, they are everywhere except Antarctica. Yup, even down under! Depending upon the bacteria they introduce when they bite you, they can cause diseases like Rocky Mountain spotted fever and especially Lyme Disease (in at least 14 different varieties). Massachusetts is one of 11 states with the highest confirmed Lyme Disease cases. See...it's not just me! By the way, when I say “bite” you, they actually cut through your skin with razor sharp mandibles, injecting an anesthetic as they go, so you don't even notice. Then they insert a “feeding tube” into your blood supply and suck it up. Disgusting! To make matters worse, they're actually arachnid in nature...that would be tiny spider. Oh, man, just the thought of it makes my skin crawl.
Well, I diagnosed myself with the help of the internet. I had the typical target-like rash on my underarm which was painful to the touch. I felt sicker every day until I finally broke down and sought out medical help. Of course, without medical insurance, that was easier said than done. I needed to see a physician first who would prescribe the meds necessary. Finding a physician who would accept cash (in reasonable quantity) instead of insurance was not an easy task. I finally found a clinic that would accept me and the Lyme Disease I walked in with. The physician assistant took one look at my rash, said “Lyme Disease” and wrote the script. The rest is history.
What got me going on this is that it's nearly springtime here and it'll be tick season again all too soon. I think I picked up the last tick by simply walking along a wooded path in my sister's yard or at the local park. If you can't feel them bite, the best you can do is check yourself after a walk in tall grass or in the woods or bush.
The CDC in the USA has been trying to figure out precautions to take and has come up with a few, but all are fairly common sense pointers or the typical governmental overkill. A young, local teen was conducting a science experiment and found that throwing her tick-ridden clothes in the clothes dryer for 5 minutes on low heat was enough to kill the pests. She won a science fair trophy for her discovery and passed on the info to the CDC. Duh!
Speaking of “ticking away”, the clock is ticking days until A meets B and David comes to Boston.
(both photos courtesy of the internet :) )
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