Small Nemesis

Living as I do in a tick-infested region, I've contracted my share of tick-borne diseases. Three bouts of successfully treated Lyme disease inured me to the danger, and over the years I grew cavalier in my attitude toward ticks. Before saying another word I want to assure you there will be no pictures of ticks accompanying this post. It's not as though you could avoid a tick encounter by positive identification, since they're so tiny. You can see one on the Centers for Disease Control site, crawling among the letters of a Lincoln penny. I considered including a schematic diagram of the tick's life cycle on its various animal hosts -- the white-tailed deer and white-footed mice that also live in my neighborhood -- but the complex of connecting circles would not fit here.

It's possible I picked up the latest tick that bit me while I walked through the grass, or petted a cat or dog, though I really can't recall. As I said, I've grown careless and don't bother tucking trouser legs into sock tops or applying tick repellent. I started to feel sick about four weeks ago. At first the fatigue and headache didn't derail my normal activities, but other symptoms accrued while I awaited a positive diagnosis. By the time the words babesiosis and ehrlichiosis came back from the lab, I had anemia severe enough to land me in the hospital for blood transfusions.

When I get home again, maybe later today or tomorrow, I'll be more careful.