TICKed off!

You’ll never believe what happened now.  Never in a million years.

It’s not enough that my body has suffered through booby amputation, no pain medication post-surgery, constipation, diarrhea, mouth sores, and baldness.  We HAD to add insult to injury.

As you may remember, part of my treatment program engages a “Wellness Plan” which, for me, includes hiking.

Hiking gives me energy and fuels my soul.

The view from the trails. How could this not inspire and fuel healing?

So, on a beautiful, sunny morning, I went on a wonderful hike with friends and our dog Buzz.  The exercise and fresh air felt great. I came home and took our 4 3/4 daughter to school. Then, ate a good breakfast and even took a nap.

Well, well, well. I woke up with unexplained pain in my left shoulder.  It was a stabbing, very sharp pain. I thought it was FBC related (rational thinking, I supposed).

I went to the bathroom to look in the mirror at my shoulder because I couldn’t figure out what in the world was causing the sharp pains.

To my utter shock and bewilderment, I saw a F-bomb TICK sticking out of my shoulder.  The F-bomb insect did a face plant into my shoulder.  My shoulder! It’s lower torso was sticking up in the air.

I am not kidding.  I could not make this up.

I’ve lived and hiked here for six years. Never a single tick.

I finally get back on the trails and a F-Bomb TICK climbs under a scarf and two layers of long-sleeved clothing to suck the blood out of my bony shoulder.

Well, let me tell you:  The joke’s on him for getting a mouth full of my chemo blood!

At this point, this whole situation is a comedy of the absurd.

A little background:  growing up in the middle of Indiana, Hoosiers are exposed to ticks all summer long.  Despite growing up with them, among them, I have always had an issue with ticks. They freak me out.  Completely and utterly.

So, when I saw the little F-bomb sticking out of my shoulder, I immediately went into a dissociative, multiple personality state and argued with myself about who and how to get it off of me.  The conversation with myself went like this:

  • “YOU GET IT..”
  • “No, I haaaaate ticks.”
  • “I caaaaaan’t!”
  • “DO IT NOW.”
  • “Waaaaaaahhhh!”

Fortunately, the stronger of my two personalities won the argument and I found my best tweezers and pulled the sucker (pun intended) out.

When I told my Oncologist about this (immediately post-extraction), he said that though the list of cancer and chemo insults is potentially endless, he hadn’t thought about this one.  He collaborated with my Internist to discuss what I should do.

In the meantime, I immediately took a long, hot, soapy shower followed by a wild Google search to learn about Lyme disease.

Were you already thinking about that?

I bet that Oncologists don’t spend a lot of time discussing tick bites at their annual conferences….just a guess.

This morning, I went to see my Internist.  Little did I know, he is a tick expert.

We looked at photos of ticks (I’ll spare you from these) and, as if in a lineup, I identified my assailant as a deer tick.  Contrary to the locals of Santa Barbara, Lyme Disease does indeed exist here (though rarely).  Rarely is the key word.

Since being diagnosed with FBC, I’ve seemingly had every possible “rare” reaction.  SO, my Internist decided to prescribe an antibiotic to prevent Lyme Disease…just in case.  As I was leaving, he told me to keep a close eye on the bite spot for signs of infection. Oh, FFS.

Stay tuned for the next episode of “The Perils of Pauline.”

Leave a comment


  1. Catie says

    Hahaha you are truly brave! I almost died trying to take a tick off Sophie (sweet old girl), I think it was one of our first summers together when we were both in Santa Barbara! It was traumatic to say the least, I would have cried and ran for help if it had been on myself!! You're incredible! I can just picture, quite clearly, your reaction (giggle). Always good for a laugh, even if it was terrifying at the time!!


  2. Carrie Riley says

    OK- ready for a REALLY GROSS story? I normally would NOT share this is any public forum, but considering the candor of our conversations I feel compelled to share so you know you have a partner in tick horror stories. When I was twelve, I went to my first boy/girl party where we got dropped off my the parents. We played outside and went in for movie time. I felt a strange pain on my (undeveloped) breast. I went to the bathroom and pulled up my shirt and to my absolute horror saw a swollen, enormous tick head first in my washboard pre-pubescent breast. Being completely mortified, pre-cell phone emergency cell phone call to Mom for immediate rescue, unable to ask the single father in charge for any assistance for obvious reasons, I took the situation into my own hands and attempted to pull the tick out with my own stubby little hands. Here comes the GROSS part- the body came out. The head did not. I am serious. The head of the evil little creature remained under my skin, and by the time I got home to tell my Mom with tears streaming down my face and get a true motherly inspection, the skin had closed up and there was a small lump where the head had been. Seriously. To this day, there is a small scar/bump on my right breast forever reminding me of the "tick attack". Mom got me tested for mono too, negative thank God, but permanent emotional damage had been done and it was about seven years before I would expose my bare right breast (probably for the better:) for fear I would need to explain to any potential suitor the horror of the origin of the scar. Thankfully, Shawn finds it an endearing reminder of my "country girl" roots and my "can do" attitude to try and take charge of the situation myself at the tender age of twelve. Had to share- as there has rarely been a moment in the last 25 years the story seemed more relevant. Welcome to the tick sisterhood!

  3. Theresa Edwards - So says

    I hope you smashed his bottom through his head …. love the irony that he got a mouthful of chemo though …. T

  4. diane says

    I HATE TICKS…..pulled one off Roxie last summer, thank God, it wasn't attached yet. I smashed it violently and flushed it down the toilet…"good riddance" I screamed…
    I do love the surprise of chemo blood it feasted on!

  5. Erinn says

    Oh deer! I hate those suckers too. Growing up as a Nor-cal tomboy…tree forts, newt scavengers, big foot expeditions, etc…I have quite a few suckers in my my life. You never get over it. The first tick is the worst. Still haunts me today. The grossest place: my boob, which felt particularly violating. Aaaack…I shudder. Still, no Lyme! Indeed, it is very rare but I'm glad you're on top of it.

    (I've got the itchies now.)

    More importantly, I'm so glad you're getting out and enjoying the wonderful weather with friends on our beautiful trails. AND your sense of humor is still intact! (LOVE the self-dialog….had me giggling!)