I was running my fingers through my son’s hair when I found it. The very first tick we’ve encountered as a family.
We had just finished a 3-mile canoe trip, another family first. My son and I were cuddled up together on the shuttle bus ride back to our car. I felt what seemed like a scab, so I leaned in closer to take a look. My heart skipped a beat.
Thankfully, we had just pulled into the parking lot. I stood up, gripping my son’s hand, scanning the rows behind me for my husband’s face. I locked eyes with him and said, “Mike,” before turning on one foot and dashing off the bus without another look back.
“Why are we running, mommy??” my son inquired.
In the first row around the building we saw our car. I flew over and opened the trunk, my backpack spilling all over the ground. As my older daughter bent to pick up the fallen items, I reached into the trunk to exactly where I knew our Tick Kit to be. Within 30 seconds I had the tweezers out, and had removed the tick from my son’s head.
The good news? The tick wasn’t engorged, and it wasn’t embedded deep. I don’t even know if it had bitten him yet. Calmly, I took it and taped it to the little piece of paper I had set aside for just such an occasion, labeled with the date and location, and tucked it into a zip lock bag. I then cleaned my son’s head with rubbing alcohol as he stood there looking up at me bewildered.
The rest of the family rounded the corner, also looking bewildered. As I explained the situation, my stepdad took a look at the tick, and confirmed that it was, fortunately, not a deer tick (the worst kind for spreading the dreaded Lyme disease!). Relieved, I went home glad that I had been prepared!
I was so glad that I had the tick kit!
We had never really had a plan for ticks until just two days before this incident, despite being avid hikers. Scary Mommy had a post about having a tick kit in a known and accessible place, which I had read the previous week. These simple things are what the author recommends you set aside for handling ticks:
- Plastic bag
- Pen or pencil
- Index card (or in my case, a post-it note)
- Tweezers (I just used regular ones, but there are special tick removal tweezers available, too.)
- Rubbing alcohol (I used individual use rubbing alcohol wipes.)
The post also describes what to watch out for, what to do if you find one, and what symptoms to watch out for in case of Lyme disease. My son’s tick appeared to be fresh, and hadn’t embedded yet. It was also a dog tick, which is one of the less worrisome types for spreading Lyme disease. We opted to take a watch and wait approach rather than immediately take my son to urgent care for antibiotics.
Are you prepared for ticks?
Because of this experience, we are definitely more vigilant about checking for ticks! We don’t usually check after hiking, and we are doing that more now. I can’t help but think about what would have happened if my son and I hadn’t been cuddling, and I hadn’t found it right away, or if I had no idea what to do once I found it.