Monday, April 14, 2008

Bugs everywhere... get 'em off...

So how's the family?

Becky: OK since Saturday, but fevers Thursday and Friday afternoons. The back story is that she's been having fevers (sometimes rather high, like over 103) for several weeks now. The adventures have included three visits to the pediatrician in a single week, plus gallons of ibuprofen (which works wonders in the short term, thankfully) and snuggling in bed with her when she feels ill. Poor kid. More detailed blood work with all sorts of fancy chemical tests, blood smears, etc., came back indicating basically "some sort of infection somewhere, but unclear where or what's causing it." Yeah well, I could have told you that. Among the tests was a Lyme Disease titer which came back equivocal (a bit higher than normal, but not enough to make a definitive diagnosis). So now we have an appointment with an infectious-diseases sepcialist after we get back from Florida (much-anticipated vacation April 20-27) and another one to be scheduled with a rheumatologist. Yours truly, as a medical wanna-be, has been scouring the web after some initial reluctance since I figured I'd scare myself silly. So of course I did finally start hunting and did in fact scare myself silly right from the get-go with Wikipedia detailing all sorts of genetic disorders. But now I'm wondering about Lyme Disease again, even though this all started when the weather was still quite wintry and hence a tick bite would seem unlikely. Part of the reason I'm wondering is because the local ticks are out and about rather earlier than I would have guessed, given the recent experiences of...

Sarah: Completely healthy, recovered from her tonsillectomy, etc. Saturday night she felt a bump at the nape of her neck. Hard to see among the hair, but Ben and determined that it was a tick, somewhat to our surprise given the still-cold weather. We tried to get it out with tweezers but only got part of it (yuck) amid much sobbing from Sarah. Doc says just keep bacitracin on the bite and monitor her for signs of Lyme Disease. Great. So then yesterday she and Becky helped Ben rake leaves and then tumbled into the bedroom where I was doing some work in the laptop in my favorite location in the house, recovering from a short but brutal cold. Suddenly Becky said to her, "What's that spot on your neck?" I looked up to see a tick meandering towards her hairline and leaped up with a tissue to grab it. Couldn't see well enough, so we ran into the bathroom with better light, caught the beastie and returned to the bedroom, where Becky pointed out ANOTHER little motherfucker crawling on the bed where Sarah had been sitting. Good Lord. It's early April, in the 40s, though warm enough in Sarah's opinion to merit wearing Crocs with no socks. So now they can never go outside without slathering chemicals on their shoes and feet at the very least, plus full-body bug checks when they come in. We love you, Leafy Suburb.

Dr. Mom had the presence of mind to catch both ticks and preserve them forever on toilet paper covered with clear packing tape. I whipped out the trusty magnifying glass, which we own due to previous adventures in pediatric entomology (see "lice, head: difficulty in purging"). More massive web searches for all things tick-related. Results: I think both were adult deer ticks, one male and one female. More research on tick prevention. Results: Our property has a giant neon sign in Tickese saying "Vacancy - Cable TV - Complimentary Breakfast - Rent by the Hour or Day." Lots of woods, a stone wall near the house, hordes of deer in the neighborhood, etc. The stone wall matters because one thing I learned is that the ticks hitch rides on deer to spread far and wide, but the bugs actually get the infection from mice, who stay local all their lives but are the actual carriers of the bacterium. And mice love to live in stone walls. Next possible moves: Damminix tubes, liquid garlic, Agent Orange maybe...

Me: recovering from cold, now exhausted because I couldn't get to sleep until 2:30 a.m. for some reason, so I had to read a few more chapters of The Yiddish Policeman's Union, which is one of the best books I've read in a long time even though I do not care for the mystery genre. I still don't, but this has tons more creative and funny stuff going on than just being a gritty mystery involving an alcoholic cop. I'm curious to know how non-Jewish readers like it. Comments?

Weekly Red Sox check-in...
  • The Sox are 7-6, in third place behind Baltimore and Toronto.
  • Ortiz is awful (.070, last in the AL, and slugging .140) and J.D. Drew isn't (.353), after a torrid spring and a lousy 2007 (.270, 11 HR, 64 RBI) except the last few weeks of the season.
  • Best story of the young season: A New York construction worker who happens to be a lifelong Red Sox fan buried a Red Sox jersey in the concrete of the new Yankee Stadium now being built, in an attempt to slap a curse on the Yankees. Pretty amusing — except the Yankees decided not so much, as they went to considerable trouble to locate and excavate the jersey using jackhammers, and they might press charges against the guy. I may regret saying this, but right now I honestly don't think we need to worry all that much about the Yankees this season, given what we've seen so far (the Sox just took two out of three against them).
Random link

Garfield Minus Garfield. Sartre would approve.

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