A Modern Man’s Tale

Once upon a time…

there was a man and his dog. Everyday they walked miles. When not walking they enjoyed watching deer occasionally from the safety of inside their castle. Daily he fed the various birds that lived all around and delighted in identifying the variety of species that visited. Chipmunks, squirrels, owls, hawks, lizards, frogs, snakes and even coyotes once in a while made appearances. They loved the life sharing their wooded lot with animals of all kinds. The woodland characters entertained him and everyone lived peacefully together.

UNTIL…

One day after a long walk the man discovered two ticks on the dog. Most likely the ticks mistook the dog for one of the deer that they tend to feed on.  The man quickly escorted the wayward ticks into their next life but later that night he woke to find one of their relatives had attacked in revenge. He had experience in guarding his home and showed the tick exactly who was in charge but he did note that it didn’t seem to look like the ticks that he normally crossed paths with. Not thinking much about it, he removed it although it had been firmly in place dining presumably most of the night. The battle ended. The man slaying 3 ticks in one day for the win!

Or so we thought.

The next day he started to feel a little off. Tired, headache, sore… which didn’t seem too out there. He easily could have picked up something & thought he was getting a cold. It got worse & a fever joined the other symptoms. After a few days he also noticed the site on his leg where the tick had bitten was red and inflamed. Not good.

Basically he was a stubborn man & rather than getting it check out to be safe, he just dealt with it. Still he just thought he was going through a cold. After the bite started growing larger, turning a dark black & swelled up to the size of a baseball he FINALLY decided to mention it. The following day he had an appointment with his dermatologist so he waited again. At first glance the doctor forgot the man was there for a simple check to ensure that the skin cancer had not relapsed & asked what the red spots, now covering his entire body, were. The red streaks going out from the initial bite up & down his leg that were extremely tender also alerted the doctor that this wasn’t an average bug bite. No kidding.

Unfortunately this isn’t exactly the end of the story. While the doctor has assured us that after some rest and a lengthy round of meds to treat the infection, the man should be back to normal – probably. With one lasting change.

He may never be able to eat meat again.

Yes this guy who has battled type 2 diabetes and won by cutting down on everything he eats and limiting carbs, may have to limit his food choices even further.

When the tick was attached to his leg it secreted a chemical that is also found in red meats. Under normal conditions this substance stays in the digestive tract & is broken down and used by the body without any problems. However the body isn’t used to having it anywhere other than the digestive track. The tick introduced it into the blood stream where being so foreign the body started to attack the chemical. Now the body has labeled it as bad news & is on alert. So there is a huge chance that the body will no longer tolerate it ANYWHERE in the body.

At this point we wait to see. Some lucky people exposed do not develop the allergy & some do. The more times someone is bitten by this particular tick, the more likely they are to become allergic. After he gets in better shape, which thankfully is quickly happening due to the medications, we can test to see if there will be any reactions. It could take a few hours to a few months for his body to either be allergic or decide the chemical is still ok as long as it stays on the food side of operations.

If he does develop the allergy it will mean he has to completely avoid all red meat & anything that has come in contact with it. Luckily it seems that fish and poultry seem to not have the reactive chemicals, so at least he will have that still. Basically it will be as serious as a peanut allergy. Anything around or that has touched something that has touched meat, could send him into anaphylactic shock and could result in a hospital visit or worse. An epipen will be his new side kick.

Joy.

Fairy tale? Hardly. Unless it is the Stephen King version where the humans are killed off and the insects take over. Let’s hope for a happier ending.

Now if you are anything like me after hearing this tale you now itch & are paranoid that every little gush of wind that blows by your skin makes you feel like you are getting crawled on. Especially around bed time when the lights go out.

As far fetched as this all sounds, sadly it is a true story & the consequences of that tiny bite are very real. So we wait & hope. Because quite frankly my Dad just isn’t the vegan type. He could surprise us as he has done with changing his diet in response to the diabetic diagnoses which he has reversed. Just never know.

The moral of the story: even the smallest little things have the potential to change your life in very big ways.

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