I like to think of myself as calm in the face of a crisis, so my own hysteria took me a little by surprise. Through 10 years of expat relocating, I have faced rogue elephants, stampeding rhino, a head-on with a hippo, floods, train derailment and a police inquiry, all of which have been endured with relative calm and a cup of tea / stiff gin and tonic depending on the time of day. But here in the bucolic calm of Lafayette, my previous calm has been shattered forever.
It started with an itch, which I attributed to a label inside my T shirt. It continued to gently irritate through the day, until by 7pm, it had upgraded to ‘sore’ status. I lifted my shirt and peered at my rib cage, only to discover a set of legs gently waving back at me. The rest of the head and body of a huge tick were firmly rooted in my flesh, and judging by the size of it’s abdomen, it had hit the mother lode.
There then ensued a frantic phone to Safety Staci, who can be relied upon to have the latest health updates on these matters. The token glance that I could manage without fainting to the floor confirmed that the creature was too far embedded for standard removal, so I was duly delivered to the Urgent Care Clinic for professional attention. By now the legs were no longer visible, I could hear a funny buzzing noise on the inside of my skull, and the casual observer could be forgiven for assuming from my overall demeanor that I was inches from death.
My reception at the medical facility was a little disappointing, starting with the somewhat dismissive attitude of the receptionist at the Emergency desk, who seemed to underestimate the life-threatening nature of a tick installation. Instead of being strapped to a gurney and raced at speed to the Operating Room, I was despatched outside the doors to await a courtesy shuttle to Urgent Care. And that title too was a misnomer, unless you are paying in cash. Filling in umpteen forms in triplicate while you are being eaten alive by a flesh eating parasite is no easy task, but luckily I have a stoic disposition and blatant disregard for legibility, so I did at least make it to the examination room alive. There I was greeted by a cheery doctor some years younger than myself, who proceeded to douse the offending tick in mineral oil and remove it with nothing more than a pair of tweezers.
With hindsight, I may have over-reacted. On spying a black breadcrumb-sized object rolling around in the specimen jar, my immediate reaction was ” Are you sure that that one wasn’t piggybacking on a bigger one?”, at which he emitted a very unprofessional snigger, and wrote me a prescription for a brand of antibiotics more commonly associated with teenage acne. It was all such an anticlimax that I am thinking of substituting a currant in the specimen jar so at least I have some shred of dignity left. The only saving grace in the whole debacle is that I didn’t take Staci up on her offer to be with me during my ordeal, to bear witness that I am truly a complete and utter twit.
So today, I’m staying in bed. My body needs to heal, and the memories need to fade. Along with my blushes.