Homecoming by Chris Hardie
I stared at the ceiling tiles of the examination room and desperately tried to distract myself from what was going on in my lower regions.
“Are you fine?” the doctor asked, brandishing a long tweezers.
“Yes,” I replied, trying to take him like a man.
After about 60 seconds, the pain and pressure suddenly stopped.
“Got it,” the doctor said.
what was that?
An encrusted tick.
Where was he?
Right in the middle of family jewels. No, I am not making this up.
Summer hasn’t even started yet and I’ve been to the doctor twice already for encrusted ticks. The first was on my arm. I also removed several others that were crawling over my body. Last summer I had Lyme disease, a bacterial infection caused by a tick bite.
I am a tick magnet. I am the gigolo of blood-sucking parasites, the toy boy of Ixodes scapularis, the tick-borne deer. Normally, ticks rest on blades of grass, waiting for their prey to pass before attaching themselves. All I have to do is watch the tall grass and it crawls all over me.
Apparently, ticks prefer warmer areas of the body and wrinkled areas that protect them, such as the armpits, lower abdomen, and groin. They then attach themselves with their harpoons called hypostomes and begin to suck blood.
Well that little bloodsucker was firmly in place when I noticed pain and swelling in the groin area while taking a shower. I knew immediately what it was. And given its position and awkward location, it required skillful and precise attention.
“Sherry,” I called my wife out of the bathroom. “I need your help.”
Never be without a great pair of tweezers, which are essential first aid for removing ticks and splinters. Of course, we didn’t. I finally located a broken down assembly. Sherry located not one but two pairs of reading glasses because the magnifying glass was also missing. It was necessary to see the tick well, of course, not because there is something else small there.
I dropped my shorts and was lying on my back on our bed.
“It’s too dark,” Sherry said.
I grabbed his phone and held it like a flashlight.
A little uncomfortable digging in and seconds later Sherry said, “Well I think I ripped off your head and 90% of the tick is below the surface of your skin. I am sorry; this will require minor surgery. You have to go to the emergency room.
“If you want to see what it looks like I guess you can take a photo but make sure you delete it right away.”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” I said, wondering if I had pressed the wrong button on the phone and we’re already broadcasting live on an internet channel like TikTok.
There is actually an app that can be downloaded from thetickapp.org this is part of a study conducted by researchers at Columbia University and the University of Wisconsin as part of a vector-borne disease project of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Research is ongoing to help prevent Lyme disease; the information collected will be used to design integrated monitoring studies.
But at that point, I was more interested in preventing my own Lyme disease. It was a Saturday morning, I went to the emergency room. We haven’t tried any tick removal methods that aren’t recommended – like smothering the tick with petroleum jelly, squeezing the tick’s body, using alcohol or nail polish remover, or putting on a match or a hot cigarette on the tick to bring it out.
“What brings you here today, Mr. Hardie?” He asked me through the registrar clerk.
“I have an encrusted tick that needs to be removed,” I said.
“Where is the tick?” “
“On my scrotum,” I replied softly, grateful for the almost empty room.
“Oh, that’s impractical,” she said sympathetically.
I repeated the same story to the reception nurse. I did not ask if the doctor was a man or a woman. I did not care. I wanted the tick to go away.
The doctor’s notes from my actual medical records tell the brief story:
“When examining the genital area in the middle of the scrotum, he has a tick which appears to be encrusted and appears to correspond to a deer tick. By grasping the tick at the base of the tick at the skin level, j I was then able to apply light pressure and then was able to remove the entire tick.
I also received a prescription for a course of antibiotics as a preventive measure; after a brief stop at the pharmacy, I was on my way back. A little sore, but a lot of relief.
This is the end of my sticky tick story.
Chris Hardie has spent over 30 years as a journalist, editor and editor. He was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and won dozens of state and national journalism awards. He is a past president of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association. Contact him at [email protected]il.com.