Dear Loyal Watchers, Interested Visitors, and Confused Passersby:
It's not quite four in the morning here on the U.S. Eastern Seaboard, but I've been up for about three hours and don't see myself getting back to sleep any time soon. The reason for that is because of a series of night terrors that forced me screaming from my bed as I kept dreaming about tiny, horrific creatures crawling the length of my body–making their way across, and under, my skin. This undoubtedly stems from some childhood trauma.
That, undoubtedly, requires some explanation. Whereas you are much cheaper than a professional psychologist, you have all been designated to hear me out. Sorry about that (but not really).
I usually check-in with my fan sites once a day, but I was absent over the last two because I spent the first night flailing like a ninny and screaming as I ran around in tight circles in my bathroom. The reason for that was because I had begun to mow my lawn for the first time this year on Thursday night. The first mowing is always a laborious process because it involves me stopping every five feet to pick up sticks, garbage, rocks, and wayward Christmas decorations that have spread themselves across my yard during the winter months.
My house is too big for my needs. I have an acre of land, and between work and my social responsibilities I don't take care of it nearly as well as I should. It's too much for one single guy to take care of. My fence is collapsing and if I was my neighbor I would have sued me long ago. It's not getting any easier as what was once a country road gentrifies and huge houses spring up around me, leaving me feeling as inadequate as a homeowner as my last girlfriend made me feel as a lover.
Wow, this blog is going all over the place. Did I mention it is four in the morning?
Anywho, the reason I mention my yard is because during this first mowing —which I accomplish with a push mower because I can't afford a riding one—I somehow managed to get a passenger. Yes, at some point I must have brushed up against long grasses, the ample leaf litter in my yard, or a tree branch. At that moment an arachnid decided that I was "dinner."
I got a deer tick.
Cue me getting ready for bed only to go running around my bathroom screaming like a ninny upon the discovery of said tick. It had burrowed its way into my leg, and I wasn't exactly thrilled to say the least. Now, what I was supposed to do was take a breath, get out the tweezers that were less than a foot away in the medicine cabinet, and carefully remove him from my body by grasping him at his head.
What I did was scream like a ninny (as previously reported) and scrape the tick out with my fingers while cursing him in all of the languages of man, God, and science fiction.
I've never been good with ticks. In fact, I'm horrified of them. This stems from having a good friend of mine get bitten by one when I was in the Boy Scouts. This was back when Lyme Disease wasn't well-known yet and was just starting to become a media sensation. He developed the "bullseye rash," and within three months had developed a facial palsy. His family actually moved away to be near a hospital in Boston that specialized in such things. Sad to say, I never saw him again. That was pretty traumatizing.
My fear of ticks has been pretty much a part of my life ever since. The first time I ever got bit by one was when I was in Gettysburg. It was during one of my vacation weeks where I spent the week in the village between two living history demonstrations for the park service. The discovery of a wood tick (a massive bastard compared to deer ticks) sent me running from my hotel clear across the village to the hospital. There I was prescribed antibiotics. Being as I am an idiot I didn't read the directions. I drove down to Manassas, Virginia the next day to visit Bull Run Battlefield. I spent the day walking in the sun... which was exactly what I was'nt supposed to do.
On my way back to Gettysburg I found giant red welts starting to appear on my body, each of which felt as hot and broiling as Satan's spit. I nearly set a land-speed record in my Subaru as I raced through Gettysburg Battlefield. Unfortunately, a park policeman took exception, leading to what must be the greatest excuse ever given to a officer who had pulled someone over for speeding: "I'm sorry officer, but I'm on drugs and I think I'm on fire."
All of this could have been avoided, as in my research afterwards I discovered that most doctors consider the antibiotics given after a tick bite to be "essentially useless."
So, here I am, three years later, and my fear of ticks still plays a part in my life. Last summer I was in Gettysburg again for the 150th anniversary of the battle when I stupidly decided to walk across the fields near the Bushman Farm where the I represent unit fought in an effort to get down there to speak to the people who had gathered. The end result was getting covered with a dozen of the tiny bastards and my speech to the crowd going something like "AAAgggHHHhhhHHH! Get them off me! Get them off me! Aggaaahhh! God, please! Agggahh!"
Noted fandom author and my personal friend Zaptiftun can verify that it plays a pertinent, and annoying, part of my outdoor life. The personalized tour of Gettysburg that I gave him pretty much went along these lines: "This is where General Reynolds was shot at about 10:15a.m. Check yourself for ticks. This is The Railway Cut where Confederates were caught in a horrible crossfire. Check yourself for ticks. This is Little Round Top where the 20th Maine fought. Check yourself for ticks. This is The Avenue Restaurant with good, cheap food. Check yourself for ticks."
So far in my life, ticks had been something foreign, encountered only when I was out Civil War Re-enacting, hiking in the mountains, or exploring historic sites. Thursday, that changed. Now my own oversized yard has been invaded. My fence line harbors horrors. My maple trees are hiding assassins. I think that this, more than anything, is what lead to the nightmares that woke me this morning. I went to my local clinic Friday when I got out of work, and they essentially repeated that I could get $300 worth of drugs, but it would largely be useless. All I can really do is wait and see if I get sick and go from there.
That's where the nightmares came from, the feeling of helpless waiting. The arachnids that crawled across, and under, my skin in my nightmare are a response to my own sense of unease and unknowing. Like the dream I had earlier this year after I put my cat down... the one where giant purple berries were erupting from my skin, body-horror imagery tells me that my mind is working through things over which I have no control.
And, more frequently, I feel like I have less and less control. Especially over ticks.
So, it's nearly four in the morning now. I'm sure that this blog is full of horrific grammar, but I hope you'll excuse that. All I have left to do now is wait and see if I get sick, if I get the "bullseye rash", or if I have pain in my joints, especially the neck. The waiting is the hardest part. I hate it.
Anywho, it is Saturday, my volunteering day. I have to be awake again in four hours so I can get to my volunteer position. As you are all watching the season finale I'll be leading my church kids in cleaning the yards of shut-ins. Yup, going back out into the tall grasses and weeds...
... I bet you can imagine how much I'm looking forward to that.