Tuesday, March 17, 2015

I Picked Up Three Hitchhikers on a Hike

Yesterday, I published photos of a mountain hike.  Today I realized there is (unfortunately) more of that story to tell. . .

On our little hike, unknowingly, I picked up not one but THREE hitchhikers! You may be a little entertained (or grossed out) by this account of my misfortune ... but I hope this story also serves as a reminder of some things to know when heading into the woods this spring!

woods, trees, hike, views

The morning after our hike, while home alone and busy reading and commenting on other blogs, I casually rubbed the nape of my neck, beneath my hair. Here is an exact replica of my next thoughts:
“Hmmm - what are these bumps? What do I  have stuck to me? OH - NOOO!  It's not something sticky I got into ... these are TICKS!”
Yes, TICKS.  Plural.  I recognized them by touch right away.  Because, you see, I am no stranger to providing a ride and a meal for these little guys.  I have done so too many times before. 

Of course, I tried to confirm my suspicions visually.  Not easy, when the body part you are trying to see is directly behind your head and below the level of your eyes!  
  • I tried to use a hand mirror to see the refection in the mirror on the wall.  Nope - no way these myopic / presbyopic eyes could focus well enough.
  • One more bright idea - I tried to use my iPhone to snap a photo of them.  I got a lot of interesting shots of the ceiling, my collar, the top of my head and my shoulders ... and this very blurry picture. Which was enough to convince me that it wasn't bubble gum beneath my hair.

If you desire to see a clear photo of a tick, I wrote about them once before.  Not everyone enjoys photos of these guys, so rather than re-post the picture I took about a year ago, you can visit my post Do You Feel Lucky to Live Where You Do? and see a bigger-than-life clear picture of one there!

Ticks come with the territory when you are in the wilderness in the springtime. The day of our hike was warm, but I must admit the thought of ticks never crossed my mind, as March is still really a winter month here. I'm not particularly squeamish - but I prefer not to share my blood supply with these nasty little mooches.  And I especially would like to avoid any diseases that they may carry.  Once discovered, it is my preference that they vacant my premises immediately!

Herein lies the problem. How do you use tweezers to gently grab and pull a tick STRAIGHT out, without leaving any parts behind, as the CDC emphatically recommends ... when you can't see where you are tweezing?!  This was a problem I could not solve myself.  

A text was immediately dispatched to my husband - most of it composed in upper case letters!  I got a sympathetic reply almost immediately.  
"Do you want me to come home."  
Trying not to sound as desperate as I felt, I replied 
" Do you have any time today?"  
 And then I waited.

No text response.  Feeling uncharacteristically like a damsel in distress, I kept waiting for my knight on a white horse to appear - but things at work must have gotten hectic for him. 

While waiting to hear back, I tried to inspect the dog.  No ticks on her that I could find, but with her thick coat they could easily be hiding. We will check her over from time-to-time for a while! I will also have to let my doctor know if I develop any symptoms of rash, fever and chills, headache, unusual fatigue or muscle/joint pain in the next few weeks. These could be an indication that one or more of my pesky uninvited guests shared with me a tickborne illness.  Double UGH.

An hour and forty-five minutes after my first text, I sent my husband another message: 
"I could bring alcohol and tweezers and meet you at work. Or maybe I will call some friends and see if anyone is willing to do an extraction. My sanity is ebbing a bit with three heads buried in my neck."
Just as I was deciding which friend would be most competent and comfortable performing this favor, I got an text response from my spouse.
"So sorry - couldn't get away. I'm coming now."  
Knights in shining armor don't always just fight dragons! Sometimes, instead of a white horse, their steed is a Honda Pilot!

ticks, alcohol, jar
I decided to post a photo after all. All three ticks were skillfully removed by my husband and met their deaths in a jar of alcohol.  It was a case of murder which I wholeheartedly endorsed!

Have you ever had a tick on you? Do you have a tick story to share?

This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog. Check them out!


  1. So glad he rode to the rescue and slayed the ticks.

  2. Oh my goodness, what a story! You were much calmer than I would be. We don't have much of a tick problem here, but when I lived in North Carolina as a child, my brother had them all the time. Every night my mom would perform a "tick check". He even got them stuck in his eyebrows and eyelashes! I've never had one, oddly enough. I rarely get bit by mosquitoes either - they must not like my body chemistry! Glad your husband came home to save the day!

    1. Lucky you Lana - bugs seem to like me quite a bit. The feeling is not mutual.

  3. I have been lucky and have never fed a tick. For which I am grateful. I react badly to rather a lot of insect bites (bees, mosquitoes, ants...) and don't want to find out about tick reactions. The father of a friend was hospitalised less than twenty-four hours after a tick got him, and I fear my reactions would be similar.
    Hooray for your (slow) hero husband.

    1. I am hoping to avoid the hospital! That poor man. And yes - hooray for my husband; I was actually surprised he could get away from work that day at all.

  4. what, you got ticks? that really sucks no pun intended

    1. I love the pun - thanks for giving me something to laugh about with regards to my little hitchhikers!

  5. This made me laugh I can see you with your phone turning this way and that trying to snap a picture for a blog post! We're big hikers as well so ticks are no strangers to us either, but I still hate them. I am surprised too that they would be out this early in the year, but I guess if it gets warm enough. They were worse in KY than they are here but we still have them. Glad your hubby could save the day!

    1. It is harder to take a picture of your own neck than one might suspect! The day of our hike was warm - but yesterday morning we had some snow! I guess I was just lucky enough to have them find me. (My husband and our dog must not be as tasty!)

  6. Hi Susan -- If you ever need a friend to remove your ticks, call me. I must have removed 50 of them from my son's head when he was a child. They loved him! Once he had a big sheep tick and about 10 small ticks embedded all at the same time. He also had to take medication once because he was developing the symptoms of tick fever. Ugly little bugs! My method of removing them is to gently grab them with the tweezers and turn them over. They seem to release their grip a big and are easier to pullout.

    1. Had my husband not have come home - you might have received a call! Ugh - your poor son. Hoping these were healthy little ticks, and that I remain that way!

  7. Perhaps this is where "I'm really ticked off" originated? How absolutely horrid for you. Yuck. I don't do well with this sort of thing. And may I say your husband is a gem. How kind of him to come home and assist with tick removal. Sounds like Lynn above is quite the pal as well. You've got good people in your court.
    My uncle lives near Kamloops, BC and he said there was a tick advisory issued this February. Earliest time of the year ever for that announcemnt.
    I went hiking just yesterday .... oh noooooooooooo .... Does your husband do house calls across the border?

    1. Another tick pun! And yes - I totally can see how that saying originated! Hope you don't find any of these nasty little guys - on you or Poppy. If you need a tick-slaying knight though, I will see what we can arrange ;-) Wish I'd know about the tick advisory before we went hiking ...

  8. That sounds scary! I don't think I've ever had one stuck to me. Glad you were able to get them off of you. Thanks for sharing this on Idea Box. It just may help someone else know what to do in case they ever find one on them.


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