It's the stuff of nightmares. Well, my nightmares. An hour ago in rehearsal, I was stroking my arm (weird habit during reading rehearsals), when my fingers brushed over something that felt like a piece of grit.
I brushed a little harder, but it didn't fall off.
I looked down. Was it a flea? It was about the size of a small flea. I grabbed it quickly between two fingernails, and was surprised to find I had to pull it out of my skin with a little "pop." I brought it close to my face to take a good look.
That right there is a deer tick, and the one I pulled out of my arm was the first I've seen in person. I am pretty sure he's a boy, and I am naming him Barry. I had the presence of mind to hold onto Barry after making sure he was dead, and I stuck him on the back of a price label peeled off a water bottle until I could secure him properly between strips of plastic during a suitable break in rehearsal.
Luckily for me (not so much for him), my good friend Clark has been going through Lyme disease hell for a couple of months, which has been very educational (and heartbreaking, but he's getting better). Following his instructions, on Monday I'm going to a Lyme literate doctor for a course of doxycycline, because I just called my usual doctor's office; they don't seem to have a clue, and it doesn't sound like it would be easy to convince them of the benefits of getting one. I also found a lab in Jersey who will test a tick for Lyme for $60 (again, after being told by my regular doctor's office that there was no way to test a tick for Lyme). I am sending Barry away to the lab today. I won't miss him, but I hope he gets there safely.
I hope I'm being overly cautious. The last thing I need is Lyme disease. Though, oddly enough, I kind of enjoyed the burst of activity this scare has brought; it's better than the self-pitying drunken moping I've been indulging in lately, or the bouts of constructive self-harm.
(Constructive self-harm is when you, for instance, work on your house with your hands so hard and for such long stretches that it still hurts to type twenty-four hours later. But the house! I made such progress!)
I really need that "illness" tag, don't I?