A few weeks ago I took a trip with my girlfriend to lovely, lovely Julian, California — a lovely little mountain town where there are lovely, lovely wine tastings and just the most lovely apple pies you’ve ever eaten. The town has a lovely gold-rush era feel with a small, but dense main street and plenty of lovely open space. Just outside of town there are lovely fields of lovely tall grass filled with lovely, lovely ticks that latch on to my genitals.
It was a lovely time.
Actually it was. Julian is a beautiful, reasonably priced alternative to Napa, charming romantic and all that. But a tick to the balls has a way of putting a damper on a perfectly good trip – especially when you don’t have health insurance.
I’m from Boston, where Lyme disease is a real problem. Friends and acquaintances that have come down with the disease suffered months upon months of misery, and in some cases permanent neurological damage.
Coming from Boston, I also happen to know that tiny deer ticks are the ones that carry the greatest risk of spreading the disease, and that the longer the tick stays attached, feeding, the grater the chance of infection. My tick was definitely tiny, with the exception of his blood-engorged body. He’d been feeding on me for two days before I caught him.
They say the obvious sign of Lyme disease is a telltale bull’s-eye-like rash that appears on the site of the bite after the tick is removed. Now, trying to remove a tick that has its head buried fairly deeply inside your genitals is neither an easy nor pleasant task. By the time I got the sucker off, lets just say there was some carnage. Impossible to tell whether what I was looking at was a bulls-eye, a scab or Godknowswhat. It’s not a particularly pleasing aesthetic canvas down there.
It seemed like I didn’t have a bulls-eye, but I couldn’t be sure. And on top of that I was getting headaches and a wickedly stiff neck – two of the 5 billion signs of Lyme disease.
So much for self-diagnosis.
The disease is treatable if caught early. But, to catch it and treat it I would need a doctor. But how does one do that without health insurance these days? Well, there are three things a person could do in my predicament: go to the emergency room to get an immediate test for Lyme disease, but that struck me as a bit excessive and potentially costly; I could schedule an appointment with a private doctor and pay out of pocket; or I could go to a free clinic and get checked out. If it looked bad, maybe my lab results would even be covered. I went with option number three. Trust me, if you make what I do you’d take door number three as well.