Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Ticks and Not the Tocks Kind

You know when I was little, we only had mosquitoes to be irritated by, and then, they weren't that bad.  Well, I'm excluding the bees and wasps genre, but really, that was it.  Now we have ticks in Maine.  And this year is the worst I've ever seen.  For the prior 12 years, even in the woods where we are, if you didn't go in the bushes, you were very unlikely to pick up a tick.  But so far in two weeks I've seen three of them, two of which have been on ME.  This second one was embedded.  I am not very good at this kind of thing.   I tend to get panicky when a creature wants to crawl on me, and close to madwoman when it wants to bite me.
Today, I was a big girl and did not hyperventilate or pass out when I found the tick on the back of my knee this afternoon.  My husband was not home.  My daughter had taken my car to a friend's house.  I was alone.  And I couldn't reach the back of my knee, and I was afraid to look at it in a mirror, knowing my propensity to panic or faint in such situations. 

Calming myself I found a box of matches and the new twisty tool that I'd JUST two days ago, picked up at the vet.  I had tentatively asked if they could also be used to get a tick out of a person.  They said yes, so I decided to buy the green cloven hoof thingy, just in case.
You may be asking why the matches?  Well, you are supposed to overheat a tick and it will back out of its hold, trying to escape.

Funny story - (at least now it is).  When we lived out in Minnesota, our dog got a tick on her ear.  Having lived in Maine where there were no ticks, I had never had to take one off a dog before.  I had heard from people there that if you put the match end up to it they would back out.  So I lit the match and did that.  You are supposed to blow the match out first, but in my defense, no one said that.  I tried to hold it as close to the tick as I could, without setting the dog on fire.  Evidently that isn't possible - the part about not setting the dog on fire.  She only got a few hairs singed down to clear the way for me to be able to get the tick out more easily.  I DID NOT hurt the dog.  I patted the smoldering hairs out before they burned her.  I have never lived this down.  I can tell you now, because all the damage has been done to my self-esteem that can be done by friends and relatives already.  And enough time has gone by - the statute of limitations has run out. 

So, where was I?

Oh, I had the matches and tools. I lit the match and blew it out.  I did not want to see the tick though, so this was not going to work even if I could see it, which I couldn't.
So I called my daughter's number to see if she could bop on home for a minute.  No answer.  I called her friend's number.  No answer.

I tried not looking and just taking a tissue and pulling on the tick.  Ouch.
I decided I had to go to my daughter at her friend's house. 
We, fortunately, have three cars.  My daughter had taken my car and my husband had his cute little Miata, leaving the Focus here, which is his winter and practical transportation.  The keys?  The keys.  He must have taken the keys to the Focus with him. 
Great.  Wait.  Spare key.
I looked in the cupboard where there was a plastic sandwich baggie with keys.  Two of them said Focus.  I took the newer one and headed out.  Whoops, where are the matches again?  I went back in and grabbed the matches and ran out.  Whoops, where did I put the tool?  Ran back again.  Nowhere in the house.  Whoops, in my purse.  I left again.

The key turned in the car, but didn't start it.  I went back in the house and got the other key.  Nope.  It wouldn't even turn in the ignition.  Why didn't I keep the other key with me?  I went back and got the first key again.  Aarrgghh!  Stupid, stupid, stupid.  Of course the car wouldn't start; this is a standard, not an automatic.  It starts when you do it right and are not thinking about that tick in the back of your leg, just sucking away at your life blood with its ugly little face.

I am proud of myself for not fainting, not chopping my leg off, not peeling out of the driveway and down the road like a maniac.  I didn't even bang down the front door when I got there.  I didn't have to be carried at any point.  I just came calmly in the house and gave my daughter the implement and the matches.  And she, being the daughter I raised and loved and sent to college, took that tick out.  I don't know what I would have done if not for her being close by.  What do people do?  The emergency room seems a bit of overkill...ha!  Literally. 


  1. I don't want to freak you out about ticks any more than you already are, but don't use matches on them; it's bad. Just pull them out. Trust me on this.

    I've had to pull out 3 ticks this year already, too. Two off the dog and one out of my son's ear.
    First ticks I've seen in... well, I don't know how long it's been.

    1. I am going to have to spend this spring in a plastic bubble, maybe the summer, too, at the rate this tick season is going! Yeah, the match didn't do anything. The twisty tool worked though, even better than tweezers!

  2. Oh Donna, so sorry for your plight. The last one I remember was on the back of my neck & of course, similar story, my husband was not home. We have used the rub vaseline all over them method because they evidently can't breathe if covered in vaseline. We have some here in CO, but it's so dry, there aren't many. I'm glad you found your daughter, & said goodbye to the tick!

    1. Thanks for the tip! I will have to use the Vaseline trick! They just make my skin crawl!

  3. This sounds like something that I would do, you gave me a laugh this morning and grateful that it wasn't me. I totally understand your misinterpretation of the match and tick removal. Me too, but I was told to heat the end of a nail and put the nail on their back. Not so easy to do. I just read that you can put duct tape over them then peel it off and they come too. Don't know if it works but may be worth a try. Hope I don't find any this year.

    1. It would probably work if you didn't try the Vaseline trick first. Guess I'll check our Vaseline AND duct tape supply today!

  4. Not to alarm you but you should be checked for lyme disease. I used to love the woods but don't go that much now and when I do, I wear leg protection. Other than that - very funny story.

    1. My brother and two friends have had Lyme's Disease, and it's definitely not fun! I am watching the spot for any signs of a ring or other unusual look...well, my husband is. I can't see it well. Thanks for reminding me, though, as we hadn't checked it today! So far, no reaction.


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