Monday, April 12, 2010

The Tick

Do you remember that TV show from way back in the 90's? It was a cartoon, but then it became a sitcom, and both were funny, though the sitcom was a tad inappropriate for a child my age, though it didn't stop me from watching it.

Wow. Was there ever a grammatical calamity like that sentence up there?

Despite my love of the television show and all its absurdity, I hate ticks.

When I was a child, the discovery of a tick on my scalp following a canoe ride caused me to refuse to go on another canoe ride. Though that may have had something to do with the canoe rides my dad drug us on lasting three or more hours, and Paul and I crammed next to each other with no leg room and only mosquitoes to entertain us.

Then Mom mentioned they liked to drop off trees sometimes, prompting me to no longer walk under trees. This meant I didn't go outside so much. Or at all.

When I see a tick, I want to throw up. And then I do.

They are nasty in a way I can't adequately explain to you; nasty in the way that a giant, man-eating insect would be, if there were things like that. This is because they attach to you and, vampire-like, suck your blood. Which you need. They ought to get their own, but instead they stick to you like leeches, feeding on you, taking your life force away. And all that would be bad enough, except they also carry disease, blood borne pathogens that can take you down faster than that bystander with his bicycle/weapon I saw on Failblog.

I was petting Darcy, my lovely dog. (This is where I would insert an obligatory Darcy photo, were I at home with access to Darcy photos. You will have to picture the best dog of all time in your head and know, that is Darcy). We love our Darcy-girl.

Now, as she is a Shetland Sheepdog, Darcy has a heavy doggie coat. In fact, she has two. First is her long outer coat, second her inner coat, which is like doggie wool. You can totally spin with it.

I tried.

Since she is a long haired dog, Darcy tends to pick up a lot as she strolls through the world on her daily Romp'N'Sniffs (Mom named them). She gets dry leaves, burs, twigs, seeds, and once even a baby praying mantis. I let that go free. The rest we get rid of. Who needs seeds to be hooked onto their dog? It's just not convenient.

But as I stroked Darcy, I found that in her daily pursuit, she had brought home something a little worse than burs. She'd brought home a tick.

I always find them. I think they know how much I hate them, and they let me discover them when none of my family members can seem to do so. Ugh. They are gross. And they feel like pebbles, trapped under my girl's fur. Instantly, I know.

That day, we found four ticks on Darcy. Four.

Now, Shetland Sheepdogs, like collies, have a little peculiarity. It's a genetic issue, the MDR1 mutation, which causes some major problems. If given certain types of medication (or vaccinations), the drug in question passes too quickly through the blood/brain barrier, causing dogs with the mutation to...die. It gives them neurotoxicity, which comes with all kinds of horrible things like seizures, brain damage, and the like, and it usually ends with the dog having to be put down.

Not good.

We didn't know about this when we brought Darcy home. Apparently, neither did the first vet we took Darcy to see, because he gave her inoculations like he would any other puppy and almost killed her. Thanks, Wabash vet.

But that wasn't our normal vet. Our normal vet is amazing, he knew all about the issues, and he takes good care of our girl.

When we saw the ticks our first reaction was--Oh no! Those things are out again!--and then we called the vet. We said, "Hey, Mr. Vet, do us a favor and give us the flea and tick medicine we had last for Darcy."

And the receptionist lady said, "Okay."

Mom, meanwhile, is sick. She has the flu, I think, and has totally lost her voice. It's actually pretty funny, because Mom has to whisper (no voice) and we've all ended up speaking in whispers too, since it's (apparently) contagious. We respond to her in whispers, walk around calling out to each other in whispers, and finally realize we don't need to whisper and go back to speaking normally. It's funny, but you have to be there.

Mom decided Darcy's well being was more important than her own, so she pulled herself together and drove to the vet's office, picked up the medicine, went home, opened the bag, and--

It was the wrong medicine. The medicine we'd been given was ivermectin, the poison medicine. So she called up the vet's office and told them so.

"That's what you had last," the woman responded. "That's what you asked for."

"No," Mom responded. "We asked for flea and tick medicine, and there's a note on Darcy's chart that says she's allergic to that ivermectin stuff."

"She needs heartworm medicine."

"She's allergic that medicine," Mom replied. "It's on her chart. That medicine will kill her."

"But that's what you asked for."

It went around like that for a while. Eventually, Mom convinced the woman to write another, more specific note on the chart saying that ivermectin will kill Darcy. The woman obliged. Then Mom said she'd send someone by to pick up the flea/tick/mosquito medicine. The woman agreed.

Paul, who knows next to nothing about this, went to pick up the new medicine because Mom had already been and she felt like death. He exchanged the medicine. He brought home the new bag and gave it to Mom, who opened the bag and pulled out the medicine. Then she read the label. "For treatment of heartworm, ringworm..."


Turns out, Stupid Receptionist Lady can't listen or follow instructions. She also can't read the warning she wrote down on the chart she's holding in her hand. Why do I say this? Because we told her a medicine would kill our dog and she solved the problem by sending us home with the same medicine. Apparently, if you change the brand name, it doesn't matter that the active ingredient in a drug is poison. It magically stops being poison.

Mom called her again, this time angry.

Mom never gets angry. Well, almost never. But if you do manage to enrage her, it is a sight to see. She manages, without raising her voice, to make her will known. Her commands are obeyed. It's impressive to watch.

The vet's nurse/assistant lady was summoned. She read the chart. "Oh," she said. She then became angry at the Stupid Receptionist Lady, who I will now call Cannon Fodder, since I have so much confidence in her ability to keep her job. Cannon Fodder was...informed of her mistake.

And we sent Dad to the vet's office, where he picked up the flea/tick/mosquito stuff for the back of Darcy's neck.

No further ticks have been sighted in our home. Darcy is safe.

What is the moral of this story?

1. Don't suck at your job.

2. Know your prescription medications, their side effects, your allergies, and all of the above things about your loved ones. Because if worse comes to worse, you need to be the one to say--"I can't take sulfa, it will kill me." And "Don't give my baby peanut butter, it will give him hives all over his body, and then kill him."

Just in case.


  1. If you see that the vet office needs a new receptionist next time you're there, be sure and let me know. Also, I apologize in advance for anything work-related that I say tomorrow night. I am likely to be angry.

  2. Has it become even more awful? Because that would be bad. It was terrible enough before!