Tuesday 11 June 2019

Tick Terror!

I'm preparing to write about the Chartres Pilgimage for work, but I'm exhausted and had the most frightful scare this morning: a great fat black tick clinging to the pale flesh under my ribcage.

I am absolutely terrified of contracting Lyme disease, and when I heard on Day 2 of the Pilgrimage that there were ticks in the woods and the field we were sitting to lunch in, I whimpered in horror, examined my ankles and reapplied insect repellant to my legs. However, the terror of the fields and woods somehow found its way through my long-sleeved shirt and T-shirt to my non-toxic belly. 

Goodness knows how long it was there because one of the privations of the Chartres pilgrimage is lack of washing facilities for foreigners. Technically there are showers somewhere, but they are located so far from the foreigners' campground, and pilgrims have so little time to dress and pack up, that washing is not feasible. Although I was able to wash my feet at night, thanks to my handy collapsible wash tub, I gave the rest of me only a cursory wipe with biodegradable towelettes. It just never occurred to me to sit under the light of my tent lamp and stare at every inch of my body. 

That said, I had a quick shower last night and didn't notice anything, so it could be that Mr. Tick crawled in amongst my discarded clothes at night and lay in wait inside the T-shirt I used as pyjamas. On the other hand, I wasn't actually looking. I was mostly worried about what I was going to wear to dinner, my clean outfit being in my computer bag which was in the possession of a Pilgrimage official I hadn't yet been able to find. 

At any rate, very tired and very frightened of long-term disease (which is never nice but even worse when your spouse is in remission from cancer), I am having a hard time thinking about what uplifting things to write about the Chartres Pilgrimage. The Mass in Chartres Cathedral was really very beautiful, but I did not sign up for Lyme disease. 

On the one hand, I want to support the Chartres Pilgrimage. On the other, I am a bit horrified at the risks pilgrims are expected to undertake and, as I said, I was not warned about ticks until Sunday at lunchtime. One expects to be tired, unwashed, blistered, sore, grumpy with fellow pilgrims, and perhaps unedified by noisy young Europeans who play their guitars and sing comic songs late into the night, but one does NOT expect to risk contracting a serious disease. 

No, I do not have the telltale "bullseye rash." But I've had headaches off and on since late Sunday afternoon, when I really just could not stand the noise of rousing French camping songs anymore. I thought it was the sun and the din, and I pray it is the sun and the din, but headaches are a symptom of Lyme disease, so hopefully our NHS clinic will see me tomorrow. 

Meanwhile, I don't suppose I should write an entire article for LSN about how terrified I am having been bitten by a tick, so I will have to pull it together somehow for the sake of traditionalism. That said, I would not be the first person to point out that traditionalism, like any other movement, has its drawbacks.    

Update: I felt better after talking to another trad pilgrim about his life and Australia, and he very kindly paid for my breakfast. But I won't be writing my "Chartres" article until tomorrow morning after I've had a good rest and (I sincerely hope) have seen or arranged to see a doctor ASAP.   


  1. Oh you poor thing, how awful! :( I am praying you don't have Lyme! They really should have warned everyone in advance - legally it's a big failure of duty of care.

    1. Well, for all I know they did, but if they did, they did in French! The pilgrimage is enormous, and foreigners, though welcome, are kind of an afterthought--or so it seems. I could be totally wrong on that. But at any rate, I did not know their was any danger of ticks until Sunday afternoon, and then I thought only my legs were in danger. Thank you for your prayers!

  2. I don't know European ticks very well, but I know in the US Lyme disease is only carried by deer ticks, which are extremely tiny, not the bigger wood ticks. If the tick you found was all black and pretty big, it probably wasn't the kind that carries lyme. And if it was just *on* you, and you didn't catch it in the act of sucking your blood, probably didn't even bite you at all...it was still looking for the right spot. Ticks don't really hang around after they've had their "meal."
    It's certainly worth getting checked out but hopefully this will reassure you a bit until you get official clearance.

    1. Thank you! Mr/Ms Tick had his/her head deep in my skin and pulling him/her out was a tricky business, so he/she was feasting away. However, I saw a doctor this morning, so I am feeling better about the whole incident.