Sunday, June 6, 2010

The big bug

So the excitement with R hasn't been our only source of stress of late.

About a week ago, as I casually ran my fingers through T's hair, a gentle tousle of her blond locks, I found something.

We had just made a quick trip to the potty as we were visiting R in special care. T had been throwing a temper tantrum so it was a welcome out to get her out of R's room as she was not on her best behaviour.

Upon further inspection, I glanced something gray and blood blister looking at the back of T's head, right about the ridge we all have at the back of our heads, I believe they are called a cranial suture? Whatever, the bony part just above the hair line.

At first I thought it might be a blood blister or something as T had fallen out of bed earlier in the week and possibly hit her head on the floor. Nope, it wasn't that.

Whatever this was, it was floppy...

Since there was a nurse on duty in R's room, I quickly asked her if she could look at something. That something was the thing on the back of T's head.

She took a quick look and said, "Oh, that's a tick." very non-challantly.

A kid had been bitten by a tick. Great, I already had one kid in the hospital, I didn't need another one. Panic set in.

This tick was big so according to one nurse, it looked like it had been there a day or so. Or maybe he just attached shortly after a previous meal. S said he hadn't seen it when they were at swim lessons that morning but let's be honest, he wasn't looking for a tick.

I don't know nor do I care when it appeared, it was big. Like half the size of my pinkie fingernail big. You know that old commercial, when you are this BIG, they call you Mister?

A group of nurses gathered around to assure me it was nothing.

They recounted how all their kids had had one at some point and how growing up they and their friends had all had one bite them. Basically don't worry too much about it. Just get some sharp tweezers, go down to the skin and just pull it out. Then wash the area with alcohol and perhaps some antibiotic ointment. Mark the date on the calendar and perhaps save the bug, just in case. Treat it like any other insect bite.

Ticks can carry various diseases but from what I've read, they (the tick born diseases) are fairly rare in Kansas. They are far more common in the South East (like Georgia).

Apparently ticks are amply found in marshy areas. Kansas isn't really a marshy area but we've had a fair amount of rain so many areas are damper than usual plus we had a very long spring with cooler than normal temps, and lots of long grass (you can watch it grow some days) making for prime tick territory.

Did I mention Kansas has had issues with West Nile in the past few years? But that's an issue with mosquitoes bites. I'm sure the next thing will be the killer bees from South America!

Regardless of the nurses' assurances, I called the doctor's first thing Tuesday (Monday was a holiday) to get the low down on what we should be watching for, just in case. The Special Care nurses were concerned about one disease while our family doctor was more concerned about another.

We have no idea where to picked up her little stowaway but she had been outside and around dogs (a possible carriers of ticks) as she had been visiting friends the previous two days.

Everyone was trying to help us out by taking her for different times so I could get to the hospital and S could go to work. They didn't mind an extra kid as their kids were already at home, as the school year ends in May here.

Regardless of where she got it, she got bit. I'm guessing it must have hitched a ride in her hat given the location of the bite.

One nurse told me she had once found one on her 18 month old son, within the confines of his diaper. She got it off and all was well. When I asked how it could have gotten in there, she simply said, "They are small, they can go wherever they want. And sometimes a tick is just a tick." Apparently she's never tried to Google the term, "just a tick".

Needless to say, both T and I started to cry (for different reasons) but T bucked it up long enough for S to extract the tick. It hadn't or couldn't burrow in too far as there isn't a whole lot of skin in that area, so all the parts where extractable. Apparently you need to make sure you don't leave a body part like a leg behind during the extraction...yummy.

The nurses gave us an empty unused formula bottle to put 'Mr. Bug' in. Mr. Bug has been residing in the cupboard until we have some distance for any symptoms to show up. Mr. Bug has ceased to be a threat as he passed sometime the middle of last week.

Ever the budding entomologist (bug expert), T was fascinated. She keeps asking about her bug. Where's my bug? I want to look at my bug. Where's my bug that was in my head? I want to show my bug Mommy and Daddy's room.

While it is nice to see she wants to be friends with something that bit her, I don't think so. No furloughs to anyone's room or visitings allowed.

Mr. Bug was still very much live for a few days after he was extricated. We never did explain to T exactly what Mr. Bug was doing and its going to stay that way. All she needs to know is that she got bit by a bug.

Truth by told, fleas and ants give me the willies more than the tick. What bothers me most is the fact it was attached to my kid.

I'm not so big on covering my child with insecticides but it does give one pause to think about it. We (as in our family) haven't ever had a big problem with mosquitoes or other spring/summer/fall pests like we did back in Ontario (and yes, there are tick problems in Ontario too so this could have easily happened there) so we've never worried too much about covering ourselves with DEET.

Since we live in Kansas, the sun is a far greater danger as it is sunny an average of 300 days a year here and shade is a commodity. She's always got a hat on and sunscreen but we might just have to find something additional for those days she's out in the wilds of Kansas.

In writing this, I think I have guaranteed that we will never have out of state visitors and again...they will be too terrified of getting skin cancer or contracting a disease because they got bit by a bug!

No comments: