We nearly didn’t make it to Joshi’s first Gymbaroo class yesterday because we ended up spending the morning in hospital.
When Simon left for work I was feeding Joshi. Joshi was so relaxed he soon fell asleep. In his sleep his head tilted backwards, exposing the usually hidden areas that lie between his lovely chubby neck rolls. I noticed something there. It looked like a piece of fluff rolled into a little ball. When I tried removing it, it wouldn’t come off. I looked closer. It was darkish green. I finally managed to scrape it off using my finger nail. I took a photograph of the thing and zoomed in on it. It appeared to have little legs … and a rather empty body, (now that I’d squeezed the blood out if it). I was sure it was a tick. Only thing was, the tick’s head was still there, under Joshi’s skin. And it was becoming all red and rash like around it. Oh heck. Now what?
(Now where I come from in Zimbabwe, ticks are usually not a problem. We’d fairly regularly pull them off our dogs and occasionally off ourselves, as you do growing up on a farm. No matter how big, juicy and blood-filled they were they were never cause for alarm. But when I pulled this tick off Joshi, I felt really clueless. I’ve got no idea about Ozzie ticks and whether this particular one was just your average tick or your paralysing kind. So I called the early childhood centre. They told me to take him to the doctor. By this stage I was still calm.
But when I called and spoke to the doctor’s receptionist her response freaked my beans. There was so much alarm in her voice. “Oooooo, bring him in straight away!” Suddenly my heart started beating a whole lot faster.
Now Australia has its fair share of ticks. And tick bites generally cause nothing more than minimal discomfort. But occasionally people can experience allergic reactions, paralysis and tickborne diseases. Suddenly I wasn’t so sure if Joshi’s relaxed state was just sleep.
Fortunately I was already out of my dressing gown, but there was no time to brush my hair. I moved swiftly round the room, gathering everything I needed – keys, wallet, baby, etc. My breath was shortening. I kept telling myself to breathe deeply, breathe deeply. My heart was pounding.
I popped Joshi in the car seat and drove off. He usually really complains in the car seat. It’s his least favourite place. But I didn’t hear a peep out of him. Usually that would be great, but in this instance I was really wanting to hear a whole lot of peeps! Then the sat-nav wouldn’t work. I kept driving, not 100% sure of where I was going, until at the last-minute it clicked in.
The doctor had a go at taking the tick head out of Joshi, but Joshi was really wriggling and so she suggested we take him to kids casualty to get him sedated with nitric oxide (happy gas).
We hurried to hospital. And then waited almost 2 hours before the specialist took us into the room. Because Joshi’s under 1 year, they couldn’t sedate him in any way. Instead they gave him sugar-water to help with the shock. After they’d put a few drops of sugar-water into his mouth it was time to hold his little body down. I held his legs and body. Simon stood above him so that Joshi could see the familiar face of his dad. One of the doctor held his neck back while the other one took a pair of tweezers with very sharp scissor-like tips to his neck. Joshi screamed. And screamed. Hearing your baby scream like that is like a knife to your heart. And then seeing the blood coming out of his little neck. Look, it really wasn’t such a big deal, but when it’s your little baby it feels like a huge deal.
I’m still not sure if they got the head of the tick out fully. It was hard to see with the blood. But apparently it’ll make its way out if it’s not.
Anyway, we managed to get Gymbaroo class after all. I thought it would be good to do something fun and light-hearted after the morning’s drama. In the middle of the class Joshi fell asleep. I was rocking him on the rainbow hammock and he just passed out.
When he woke up an hour later he was all smiles, but when we got home he had a huge cry. I held him in my arms and let him go for it. I figured he needed the stress release. He cried for about half an hour. He hasn’t cried like this since he was 9 weeks old. As I held him a few tears of my own fell. And then he fell fast asleep and slept like a baby (one that sleeps).
In December last year a NSW Health Ticks Factsheet said, “People should look-out for ticks this summer when out in the bush, in the garden, or on overhanging branches and especially around clothes lines.”
Although ticks are not very mobile they manage to get around. They can be transported by animals or they can drop onto your clothing when you brush past a bush or tree. Or they can fall from overhanging branches, especially around clothes lines! Hmmmm … I think we’ll be investing in a tick twister soon!