One misty fall morning, I padded out to the driveway in my bathrobe and moccasins to pick up the Sunday New York Times. And then I padded back inside, evidently with a tiny arachnid affixed to a tender spot behind my right knee. Those critters are very small, and, when tucked out of sight like that, they are detectable only by touch or by somebody else with reason to peer into a cranny or nook. As luck would have it, I discovered the bloodsucker during an extra-thorough shower. “What the fuck is this?” I asked Tru, dropping my towel, twisting my leg behind me, arching my back, and looking down over my shoulder in the general direction of the rear of my knee.
Tick removal is an exercise fraught with motion and emotion.
“V, stop moving.”
“I’m not moving.”
“You’re bouncing up and down. Just stop it. I have to get close to its head with the goddamn tweezers.”
“Oh, V, it would be better if you lay down.
I flopped on the bed and buried my head in a pillow.
“D’ow!” I hollered. “Jesus Christ, Trudi!”
“I got it. I got it.”
“You ripped my knee out.”
“Is there a lot of blood? Put alcohol on it. Let me see the fucker.”
“Uh-oh. It was here a second ago.”
This first aid melodrama vanished quickly in the household ebb and flow, then about three weeks later, I began to feel a peculiar achiness in my wrists and elbows. I had been going to the gym now like a good sober person, however, nothing I did would have been strenuous enough to engender non-specific joint pain. I was a staunterer of health club treadmills where Oprah could now be found dispensing puffery and the occasional newsworthy discussion. Newspapers and TV were just starting to give traction to Lyme disease. It was occurring in the suburbs more and more. A bacterium caused the disease and the deer tick was its primary vector, transporting the microbe to humans. I didn’t have the telltale rash, the bull’s eye of redness, but I figured – what the hell; I got aches. It could happen; we lived in a wooded, very Bambi-friendly area. Ipso facto – self-diagnosed Lyme disease.
General testing had recently been introduced and was performed only at Westchester Medical Center as part of a study. I went, had blood drawn, and waited the requisite week to ten days for the results. Yes, I had it. A two-week regimen of amoxicillin wiped out the infection and restored me to customary limberness. I felt proud to be in the vanguard of exotic suburban diseases.