My husband went for a walk in the woods and then found a deer tick on his pants. I went for a walk in the woods and then found a deer tick on my pants. My father went for an extremely brief walk in the woods and then I spotted a deer tick on his shirt, after he held my baby girl!
Do you sense a theme here?
Ticks! Ticks! Ticks!
After these three incidents, I was starting to get a little paranoid about ticks. So Monday of last week, thinking that it might be good to stay out of our woods for a while, I decided to take my walk at the local nature trail instead. It seemed like it ought to be safer, because all the vegetation is trimmed back away from the trail, which is wide and gravel-covered. After my walk, I went to the grocery store and then home. As I was getting out of the car, guess what I saw? A deer tick on my leg!
I’m ticked off about getting ticked on!
I’m also ticked off about feeling like it’s not safe to take my daily walk. I need my exercise and outdoor time!
I’m also ticked off about having been misinformed about deer ticks. I had been told that they lived on plants and got on you when you brushed by. This is true for adult ticks, but not for the nymphs. I had thought that if I just cleared a path from my house to the trail in the woods, I’d be OK, because then I’d never touch any brush. So there I was, pushing aside mounds of leaves with my feet to better mark my trail. Then I found out that it’s in the leaves that the nymphs live, and they’re the ones to worry about. And I knew that ticks could be small, but I had no idea how tiny the nymphs are (about the size of poppy seeds!)
I’m also ticked off that the symptoms of Lyme disease are so common that there’s no way you’d know you had it unless you got a bull’s-eye rash. Flulike symptoms, headaches, fatigue, joint pain—all of these could be caused by anything, including things like the common cold, lack of sleep, and simply growing older! But if you don’t get diagnosed, the consequences of long-term Lyme infection can be brutal.
I’m also ticked off that the one thing I truly loved about this house (its woodland setting) is now my least favorite thing about it.
I’m also ticked off that there’s so little we can do to protect ourselves. We’ll do our best, but I don’t know if it will be enough. We will work on the yard and try to create a barrier between us and them. We will avoid planting things that deer like and try to plant things that repel them. We will dress appropriately when outside. We will check ourselves for ticks after each outdoor excursion and again at night before bed. We will use a bug spray with picaridin (an alternative to DEET) if we go into the woods. I will ask my doctor and my kids’ pediatrician if we can get routine Lyme disease tests.
There’s little else we can do. We’re just going to have to learn to live with the risk. The world is too beautiful to stay indoors all day, and life is too short to be always fretting over ticks.
But I’m still ticked off.