Spring is here at last, but unfortunately with the warmer temperatures also come the pests which have been safely tucked away all winter just waiting to emerge in order to spoil our enjoyment. The pest I am thinking of is the creepy, crawly kind – namely ticks! Just mention the name and my skin starts to get itchy. But it’s not just me, I have seen grown men throw a fit when they discover a tick crawling on them.
These days ticks are quite common in our neck of the woods, but that wasn’t always the case. In fact, I never even knew what a tick was until I was an adult and had children of my own. Someone brought a jar to school one day and it contained several plucked from the family’s pets. The bugs were ugly and greyish in color because they were bloated with blood.
But my first real encounter with these mini vampires was when our daughter, who was 6 or 7 years old at the time, awoke one morning complaining that something was stuck in her hair. I parted her long locks only to discover a small insect with its head already attached to her scalp and its legs waving frantically about. A tick!
One must have crawled up her clothing the previous evening when we were visiting friends and the kids were playing in the long grass. I tried to stay calm but visions of those gross, bulging ticks kept floating through my mind and clouded my judgement (remember this was well before the days of Google). I grabbed a pair of tweezers, took hold of that tick’s body, and gave a good yank! Out it came, head and all (thank goodness), but so did a fair chunk of my little girl’s hide. She yelped and then cried. I felt so badly, but soon the pain subsided, the tears stopped and we were off to school.
I related the incident to my co-workers and was immediately informed that I should never, ever pull off a tick without first ensuring that the head would not be left behind. This was done by smothering the insect with ointment or such, so it couldn’t breathe. Well, next time (hopefully never) I would know better.
I didn’t have to wait long because the very next morning our gal awoke with another tick on her- this one had attached itself to her eyelid, of all places! She was freaking out because she could not only feel it moving about, she could also see it doing so. I tried to calm her down as I liberally smeared a thick coat of Vaseline over her entire eyelid.
After waiting a few minutes, I approached with the tweezers. When my daughter saw this, she really started to panic. She remembered only too well how our last encounter had gone and she was having none of that. To be honest, I wasn’t too eager to pull off that critter either. What if I tore a big piece of skin off her eyelid?
So her dad took her off to the local hospital to have the doctor perform the delicate surgery. But apparently before the physician could even attempt plucking it off, the oxygen-starved insect fell off on its own. It seems our little one was in more danger of losing her eyesight from all the ointment I had slathered on than any harm the tick could inflict.
Since that time I have removed many a tick from myself, my husband and our dog, and I am pleased no one has lost any skin in the process.