My wife and I just returned from an emergency visit to the local fire station. I needed a little attention from one of the medics.

The episode began simply enough with Wendy noticing a little blemish on the back of my neck. I’ve been spending way too much time outdoors in recent weeks, working in the yard and exercising, and my wife thought perhaps I might want to make an appointment with a dermatologist.

Then she noticed that the blemish had, ugh, legs and our little problem took on a bit of added urgency. Wendy made an effort to remove the thingy that was clinging to my neck, just below the hairline – okay, there’s not much hair atop my head – but the critter wasn’t budging.

Just a day earlier, both of us had read an article in the local newspaper detailing the growing problem of ticks in Georgia. The little buggers have been multiplying like, well, ticks. Apparently the female of the species, in the last days of her life, can lay up to 3,000 eggs. And it seems my yard has become tick central this summer.

I can’t say that I recall ever seeing a tick before. But in the last week I spotted one climbing up my leg, another attached to my arm and now this most recent episode. Since the newspaper story made it very clear that removing a tick is a delicate procedure, we decided to seek professional help.

Five minutes later a medic was checking my neck and figuring out the best way to remove the pest. If you yank at a tick, there’s a good chance its head, oh gross, will remain attached to your skin. Worse, if you pinch it too hard, there’s a very real possibility the ugly critter will regurgitate all manner of bacteria into your bloodstream.

In fact, it’s believed such puking is how people contract Lyme disease, a particularly nasty malady characterized by arthritic and neurological problems. All this was buzzing through my noggin – plus images of Sigourney Weaver battling that foul-smelling, disgusting Alien creature that came busting through the guts of its victims – as the medic slowly doused the tick with alcohol then gingerly pried it away from my skin.

Just to be safe, we now have the tick buried in two zip lock bags and stored in our freezer. Hey, that’s what the newspaper article suggested you do if bitten. Then, if you do become sick, the culprit can be examined and the findings might help with a final diagnosis.

I’m hoping a month from now we can toss the tick, along with any residual worries. But, just to be on the safe side, I just had my wife strip search me. Okay, I know that’s an image you probably could have managed to live without. Too late now! Sorry.

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Ron Feinberg

Ron Feinberg

Ron Feinberg is a veteran journalist who has worked for daily newspapers across the Southeast, including the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville, Fla. and the Charlotte Observer in Charlotte, N.C. He recently retired from The Atlanta Journal Constitution where he had been an editor since 1979. He was the news editor for The Atlanta Journal before it was folded into The Atlanta Constitution in the mid-1980s, then news editor for The Constitution. In the mid-1990s he helped create the AJC's Faith & Values section and served as its first editor