I am, generally speaking, a pretty brave person. I used to be a HAZMAT responder. You know, one of those people who grabs a bunch of high-tech equipment, puts on a moon suit and helps clean up potentially lethal toxic waste spills. I love snakes and I spent an entire summer living in a tent in grizzly bear country. I’m a tree-climber, I’ve been white water rafting, skiied in steep back country terrain and I regularly work with large dogs who bite people.
But I’m absolutely terrified of anything with eight legs. I’d rather step on a rattlesnake (and yes, I’ve done it before so I KNOW) than find a tick embedded anwhere on my body.
Did I mention that SE Minnesota is tick heaven in the spring and early summer? Did I also mention that one of the joys of my life is hiking through the woods… and brush with my dogs? Why oh why does one of the most joyous pastimes in the world have to be so inextricably (pun intended) associated with something so completely and utterly evil?
According to the Minnesota Department of Health (and my vet) 2008 is shaping up to be a record season for ticks and tick-borne diseases. Cool (she says with a dramatic eye roll). I’ve been finding ticks every day. On my dogs. On myself. On my sweet, darling husband. AND IN MY HOUSE.
Gawd. If I really thought that setting off a small thermonuclear device here would KILL THEM ALL I might be tempted to do it. But the evil little bastards would probably not only survive the blast, they’d most likely also mutate to even some sort of even more horrific form. Enormous, glowing zombie ticks sucking horses and heifers dry in one horrific sip and swallowing small dogs whole.
I suppose I could just stay out of the woods and avoid the worst of it, but the joy the dogs and I find in those long rambles is worth the risk. I could also probably do something sane like use DEET to repel them and wear white clothes so I could find them more easily – but DEET is about the only thing that scares me more than ticks and my butt looks huge in white pants.
So, I suffer. I live in a perpetual state of the heebie jeebies. I FEEL THINGS crawling on me even where there aren’t. I obsess about checking the dogs over. And over. And over. And I’m sure I change clothes and take more showers than I need to.
Thank god the dogs don’t share my phobia. Last night I watched Audie examine a tick on his belly in the most nonchalant way imaginable. To him it was just interesting. It creeped me out. After I removed it, he wanted to check it out. I couldn’t wait to kill it — and take another shower.