Tick or Treat
Last week, as millions of children around the world stepped into their Halloween costumes — ghosts, witches, superheroes, dinosaurs, etc. — and prepared to go door-to-door in search of candy, I spent some quality time with my husband on the sofa. No, we weren’t watching a movie or drinking wine from fancy glasses and chatting about our days. I was lying flat on my belly underneath a bright LED lamp while my husband probed around in a small hole on my back with a needle and tweezers — very romantic. “Can you see anything?” I asked every few minutes. “I think I see something in there,” he said. “I’m trying.”
Let me explain.
I jumped in the shower around 5:30 p.m. on Halloween, and as I was applying lathery soap to my back, I felt something — something I’ve felt many times in the years that I’ve lived in the woods of Northwest Georgia. Our woods are brimming with ticks, and we’ve all had them on us — my husband, our dogs, our friends, our family, and me. Before I could process it, my fingers were picking at it in an effort to remove it as fast as I possibly could. With my slick hands, I gripped it and pulled, then looked down at it and realized that it didn’t look like a full size tick. Part of its head seemed to be missing.
I placed the tick on my washcloth, rinsed off and stepped out of the shower. As I dried off, I glanced in the mirror to see where the tick had been, I gasped in horror. The region around the tick bite was bright red and larger in diameter than a silver dollar. In the dozens of times I’ve pulled ticks from my body or my husband’s body, I have never seen the redness I saw last Monday night.
A few minutes later, I was analyzing the tick with a big magnifying glass, and just as I thought, the tick’s tiny head was no longer on his ugly, brown body.
I turned and looked at my husband.
“I think part of his head is still in me,” I said. “I’ll get a needle and tweezers and some alcohol.”
My husband isn’t good with needles or blood. He can’t even watch Dr. Pimple Popper or My 600-Lb Life on television, because there’s usually a scene involving a scalpel, blood and/ or organs. I crawled onto the couch with my shirt pulled up and scooted underneath the light, and for half an hour, I could feel him picking at the tick bite site with the sharp edge. “Hey, remember when we were kids?” I asked, trying to lighten the mood. “We had a game called Operation, and the objective was to pull things out of a man’s body through tiny holes in a board with a pair of tweezers. If you touched the edge, it would buzz and the patient’s nose would light up. Did you and your sister have that game?”
He didn’t answer. Instead, he concentrated on the task at hand.
“I can’t get it,” he said, finally giving up. “I’m sorry. I think it is deep down in there, but it is bleeding and I just can’t see it any more.”
So the next morning, I found myself at the doctor’s office explaining to the receptionist, the first nurse, the second nurse, and the doctor that I was pretty certain that part of a tick was still in my back. A few minutes later, I was on the surface of an examination table underneath another bright light, and the doctor was picking at the wound, which was very sore, by the way.
“Ahhh. I see something in there,” he said. “Maybe I should numb it and get it out of you…” “No need to numb it,” I said. “I used to watch Westerns with my father, so I know what to do. I’ll just lie here and grit my teeth together like I’m biting a bullet. You just get the darn thing out of me.”
Well, to be honest, I didn’t say, “darn.”
Twenty minutes or so later, the doctor pulled back and said, “I got it.” continued from page
He held it underneath the light on the tip of a sharp tool and prodded me to look at it under his magnifying lens.
“It’s his mouthpiece,” he said. “And a leg. You have to be careful when you pull these little creatures out that you get it in one piece.” “I’ve never had this problem before,” I said. “I’m 57 years old, and I’ve never had one break off inside me until now.”
And then he lectured me. “And if this ever happens again, do not try to do the surgery at home,” he said. “Go see a doctor.”
He prescribed ten days of antibiotics and told me what to look for as far as infections are concerned.
And that’s how we spent Halloween 2022 — not in costumes or handing out candy, but attempting to do surgery in our great room underneath a lamp. Instead of Trick or Treat, my husband and I did Tick or Treat this year. Ugh, but I sure am glad that the doctor got that disgusting critter out of me.