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Monica Bielanko
A chronicle since 2005 of my marriage & move to Brooklyn in my twenties; becoming a mother in my thirties; moving to Pennsylvania and learning to amicably coparent after divorce in my forties while living 3 doors down from my ex-husband in a small country town.
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Tuesday
Dec202011

I Might Be Dying

I might be dying. As I type this, poison could be seeping through my body, making its way toward my nervous system, my joints or heart or brain, culminating in a smorgasbord of possibilities that include but are not limited to swelling and pain in the joints, especially in the knees. Numbness and tingling in the hands, feet, or back. Severe fatigue. Partial facial nerve paralysis, or hey! How about neurologic changes, including problems with memory, mood, or sleep, and sometimes problems speaking.

Oh my God! I have those already. Forgetful! Moody! Problems speaking! That's exactly how Serge describes me! Oh dear lord, this is how it ends for me.

It all started exactly one month ago today. A beautiful blue bird of a day. Fall was just flirting with winter and so the trees were still festooned with brightly colored leaves and there was just the tiniest hint of a chill in the air. Our spirits were high and so it was that the Bielanko family set off on a hike near a river a few miles from our home. Sure I suspected 75 percent of the reason for the hike was so Serge could examine this particular stretch of water for fishing spots but a hike is a hike and off we happily went:



Serge was in the lead with Violet on his back while I brought up the rear, Henry strapped to my front. It was a beautiful hike that lasted several hours as we stopped to investigate this tree or that stretch of river and perhaps someone - I'm not saying who - had to pee once or twice while her husband commented, yet again, on how he doesn't understand how she can just pee willy nilly whenever she takes a notion and she was forced, again, to defend herself and her faltering mom bladder because she still reflexively grabs her vagina when she pees JUST IN CASE and why don't you try and push two large human beings out of your business and see how well your parts still work, huh mister, how about that?

THOUGHT SO.

I pee where I must:



So even though Serge forced me to wear a bright orange hunter hat in case some idiot hunter mistook me for a deer, the day was lovely. We walked along the river for several miles and returned home. And that is where this part of the story ends. For now.

******

A couple months ago Milo had a skin tag type of a thing growing on his head. I spotted it when it was kind of smallish and figured it was just a dog mole or some other weird thing dogs get because they're dogs and such. I even touched it several times to see if it hurt Milo and he didn't seem to mind. After four or five days of passively monitoring the "mole" Uncle Dave stopped by for a visit and within seconds of seeing Milo said "That right there is a tick. Oooh and it's a big one."

As you may or may not know, I don't DO ticks. Brad Pitt or that increasingly sexy Ryan Gosling fella (who I believe used to be Mormon so we have that in common and I could totally use that as a great opening line) could have ticks burrowed in their chest hair and be begging me for help and you couldn't get me within 100 yards of that shit. Abs of steel be damned. I cannot abide a critter that burrows into my skin with giant gnawing jaws and drinks my blood, sexy Twilight vampires or no. Fuck. That. Shit. I cannot even write that sentence about what ticks do without my knees going weak. And let's just dispense with the tick talk and call the little bastard what it really is. It's a spider. A spider that starts chewing its way into your body and fattening itself on your blood. (Click if you dare.)

Uncle Dave and I immediately sprang into action. I with dog treats and he with tweezers. While I calmed Milo with an influx of biscuits that nearly rivaled his lifetime consumption of treats thus far, Uncle Dave dug that little tick fucker out of his head. And then I had nightmares for the next week about how I had fingered the tick and stroked the tick and damn near brought the tick to orgasm and OH MY GOD I cannot go on with this sentence with anything other than Jesus I hate ticks with the fire of a thousand suns. A million suns. A millionty-seven suns.

******

We returned from our walk in the woods unscathed - OR SO WE THOUGHT - made a hearty dinner and retired to bed. The next morning I was undressing Henry for his bath and I noticed something on his right arm a few inches above his plump, little wrist.

The darkness closed in and, when I was able to uncross my eyes and use my vocal chords, I weakly called for Serge. There, on my sweet little boy's chubby arm was a tick. It had already begun to burrow into his arm and all that was visible were a couple legs floating on the surface of his skin.

I, of course, started to cry while Serge set to work pulling the sonuvabitch out. Certain we acquired the tick on the previous day's walk, visions of that little tick fucker crawling all over my baby and then chawing into his skin all night long absolutely devastated me. The tick came out easily and Henry was nearly oblivious to the whole thing. Serge called the doctor while I staggered around the bathroom crying and shouting ridiculous curses at ticks the world over. I calmed down enough to let Serge converse with the doctor and realized I need to pee.

I lowered my pants and what do my wondering eyes did appear?

Hold on a minute. I need to regain my composure before I continue.

It was burrowing into my body from an entry point directly on top of my hip bone.

Now I'm not going to give you a damn play by play of the hysterics that ensued but godDAMN, you guys. Here we have a woman with an unearthly fear of ticks who, in the span of a few months, has had to deal with two on her person, TWO, one on her dog and one on her precious little baby. What is going on? Why does God hate me? Can someone tell me?!

Henry's little tick mark healed up within a few days and the doctor checked it during his 9 month appointment and declared that all is well. My tick mark? Not so much. It seems to be getting worse. Within the past few days I have become certain it is Lyme Disease. It hasn't turned into the tell-tale bullseye rash that indicates Lyme Disease but not all tick rashes do that. Why would a tick rash be hanging around a month later if it isn't Lyme Disease? Does that happen? Even as I type this I am certain I can feel my tick rash pulsing with evil.

I got to googling and the first thing I came upon was this:



It took me a good five minutes of looking at this picture before I realized that no, the doctor offering a free "consultation" isn't luxuriating seductively with his hand behind his head, that arm belongs to someone standing behind him. Which is good news, to be sure, because I wasn't about to take internet advice from the doctor who is single-handedly trying to bring sexy back.

Anyway, I have sufficiently freaked myself out and have called Serge on several occasions to tell him "I've got The Lyme Disease and it's all downhill from here!" or "There are ticks crawling on me, I can feel them!"

So now, the tables have turned. She, who once haughtily mocked him for wanting to go to the doctor for his silly cough, is now thinking maybe she needs to get her ass somewhere pronto so they can have a look-see at her business.

But first, you tell me. When you don't have health insurance the internet is your health insurance. Rally the troops! Call all your doctor friends and make them look at this photo. Tick bite one month later. Am I dying?



I mean, shouldn't it be gone by now, like Henry's, and not getting more red? AM I DYING? Also, ask them if they know why god hates me and has sent a pox of ticks upon my household.

Reader Comments (49)

The type of tick that carries lyme disease is teeny tiny.....like the size of a pin head. If this was your average run-of the mill large dog tick or adult deer tick, then your clear. Also, it takes 36-48 hours after a tick is attached to transmit the lyme bacteria. I am sensitive to tick saliva, and when I've had a tick bite, the welt usually sticks around for about 2 months.

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNatalie

I would totally go to the doctor. Just to be safe. If you don't the worry will make you crazy.

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterStacey

My boyfriend had a really nasty tick bite around this time last year... in his belly button, of all places. He got it out and all seemed well, until his belly button became super red and a little swollen. We were both freaking out, but I convinced him to wait it out a while, and sure enough it eventually went away. Apparently sometimes you can just have a reaction to them, even if you grow up playing in the woods and get tick bites all the time, like he did as a kid.

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNicole

I had Lyme disease this year. Two deer ticks and one wood tick on my leg for 24 hours, but no bullsye. I wrote it up here, cause I felt like such hell I wanted to make sure I remembered it all.

http://happycozylife.blogspot.com/2011/06/word-about-my-experience-with-lyme.html

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMsAmanda

I don't know a thing about Lyme disease personally so take what I have to say with a tiny speck of a grain of salt.

If it were me, I would put Manuka honey on it and I would eat a spoonful of the honey everyday too. You can find it at a health food store, get one with a high UMF.

Also, I would watch "Under our Skin" - it's streaming on Netflix but if you don't have Netflix, google around, you'll find it. It's fascinating, disturbing and it might impart some information on how to spot if it is Lyme.

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGreenInOC

My husband teaches environmental ed and is in the woods all day, so we have quite a bit of experience with ticks - I check him for ticks everyday and often have to pull the little suckers out for him. A tick bite alone is nothing to worry about, if you feel fine otherwise - BUT, you should go to the doctor if you get a fever and feel dizzy or extra stiff or nauseated (they'll give you antibiotics).

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLiz

First commenter is dad on - lyme disease ticks are small, so small they are probably nested in your hair right now half-way to gnawing to your brain without you being the wiser. You can spot them because at first blush you think they are a freckle but you look closer and realize the freckle is moving.

Wait it out. Right now, your little guy is young. You are old. He has young people healing powers. You don't.

My "I-can-top-your-story" story: Undress my 3 year old son after a day in the woods. While he was running around naked, spotted a tick hanging onto his tic-tacs, if you know what I mean.

Bottom line: you will ive, don't waste money on the doctor, even the (probably) creepy free one on-line.

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDanny Gogetter

Don't mess around with Ticks. My brother-in-law had it last year but it went untreated for a full year and a half because the doctors on the west coast refuse to believe Lymes occurs over here. Since it went untrested for so long, the some symptoms became permanent and he's not the same he used to be. Get it checked out now, even if it's not anything at least you will know and wont have to deal with possible reprocussions later.

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMrsLeyk

I should also mention, that tick life cycles are seasonal. The nymph, the one that spread the lyme bacteria, is really only around march through september. So again, you probably found an adult tick on you which could have been a dog or deer tick, but neither of which would give you lyme. You may have the heeby-jeebies, but not likely lyme.

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNatalie

I had lyme disease as well. Key thing is to treat it early so if you have any doubt - see a doctor. I had a terrible experience with the medication but at least I haven't suffered from any long term effects.

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHeresAnAnswer

I too end up with a mark after I pull out a tick, and I'm a google-chondriac. Thus far I have managed to avoid The Lyme Disease, but that's not for lack of panic and worry. I haven't ever gone to the dr. about it, but I am no role model.

On a related note, while I am in way affiliated with the company, I heartily recommend the Tick Twister (www.ticktwister.com). In high summer I have used it to remove 10-15 ticks AT A TIME from my dog. No pain, no pulling, and no stress over leaving the mouth bits behind. I've used it on myself to get a tick out of my belly button, and for serious, it didn't hurt.

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJoie

Ticks are right up there with lice. Two creatures that whoever thought them up is certainly going to hell! Thanks for giving me the creepy crawlies and knowing that something is absolutely crawling me at this very moment, even though i haven't been around small children or the woods in quite some time.

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterErin

You have to get health insurance. Don't talk about vacations. Don't write about your new sofa or new anniversary tv...get health insurance. There is no excuse. It isn't about Americans being pussies. You need to have it

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDoctorSoSo

I cannot deal with ticks either. Joie up there mentioned the tick twister. TOTALLY getting a couple twisters. I can't stand to touch them (and you massaged it!) - much less pull them out.

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPam

Just to be safe after a tick bite it is usually best to see a doctor. If you have a short course of antibiotics it can prevent lymes disease. http://www.aldf.com/lyme.shtml

The bullseye rash is NOT always present when you get lymes disease!!!

Early treatment of LD (within the first few weeks after initial infection) is straightforward and almost always results in a full cure. Treatment begun after the first three weeks will also likely provide a cure, but the cure rate decreases the longer treatment is delayed.

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAna

In total agreement with DoctorSoSo. Ticks come & go & are removed. Lyme disease is identified & treated with antibiotics. Health insurance, however, overrides all of the above. You need it....no ifs, ands, or buts. It's called "responsibility."

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCarole

Not lyme disease- sensitive skin! Deer ticks, the kind that carry lyme are tiny, like someone else said, a freckle. That nasty mole one on the dog? Not lyme carrying- but definitely gross. Neosporin and a bandaid. But if it seems infected, go to the doctor.

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJ

Ugh, I know nothing about this, but oh god, I'm sure I'd be freaking out, too. Here's hoping it's nothing. NOTHING, I SAY!

Also, I love how commenters found a way to turn this into criticizing you for not having health insurance. UGH, INTERNET.

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersweetney

monica - go get it checked, you dont want to screw around with lyme. above is right, only the tiny deer ticks carry lyme...so if you know which one it was you're cool. BUT one of my best friends had undiagnosed lyme for years, and she's got significant cognitive problems from it, has had bells palsy, memory loss, tingling you name it. she's been to specialist after specialist and nobody has been able to help her. so lyme is something i wouldnt fuck around with.
that said, i had a tick in my foot a year ago overnight, like you. and i had a mark like yours for months afterward, it was a little itchy too. but i had it checked and the doc said it was ok.

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterShannon

I had Lyme, undiagnosed for a month or two, and then 3 weeks of antibiotics and a year of headaches. Still a little headache prone, but no other ill effects so far (2.5 years later and a baby later). Still - get checked out.

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteradina

I would be freaked out too. Spend the money and go see a doctor. Your kids have health insurance I hope....

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAutumn

My kids have health insurance and I'm working out the kinks of Serge and my health insurance. But y'all, millions of Americans that need it don't have health insurance so it isn't exactly something you should shame someone about. Even if they did buy a couch that was on sale and 30% off.

December 20, 2011 | Registered CommenterMonicaBielanko

Monica, I hope that you know better than to feel shamed by anyone (not trying to shame you with that statement). Dr. SoSo is probably just that...a SoSo doctor that doesn't understand (or care to) the needs of real people. You dont have to explain yourself or your purchases to anyone. Health insurance is NOT CHEAP especially for women in their child bearing years. Please dont feel bad...like you said there are so many people out there w/o insurance just trying to make ends meet that an extra health insurance bill is laughable. It is called "Life" It isnt fair...it just is what it is. Dr. SoSo and Carol if you are going to hate on my girl please take your comments elsewhere.

I agree with most people it is probably nothing. Call around to put your mind at ease to see how much it would cost at a doctor's office (not ER) to get it checked out. You would be surprised b/c a lot of places are reasonable and UNDERSTANDING!!!

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

I would go. I've pulled a lot of ticks out of my kids/husband and the red mark goes away within a day.

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMH

I have sensitive skin. A fire ant bite lasts for months, a mosquito bite lasts weeks. Hit it with some neosporin, take a benedryl and see if that helps. Or fork out 75$ to go to an urgent care and see what they say. But to me, it looks like every bit I've ever had, just a histamine reaction.

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjeneria

I would go, too. I *hate* ticks just as much as you! It may be nothing, but why risk it?

Also - a funny story regarding the evil that are ticks. We were out in the woods with our top two children a few years ago. We had stopped to relax and have lunch. My husband was lounging on the blanket when suddenly my son (who was 5 at the time) became very agitated and started yelling, DAD! DAD! A Dick! A Dick! There's a Dick on your arm! A Dick on your arm! HA. There was indeed a tick on his arm. I laughed so hard I cried. I STILL make quiet jokes to him about watching out for those blasted dicks whenever we go hiking.

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

I am not an expert tick person, but it looks like maybe a piece of tick was left behind and it's just working its way out of your skin.

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDawn

Sarah, get a grip. Monica can manage herself I'm quite sure. She asked for comments/advice and the truth is what screams out most IS that she talks commonly here both about whether you should go to the dr not having health insurance and things like couches, remodelings and vacations not to mention additional kids. There's an obvious disconnect there to some of us.You can definitely get said insurance as affordably as possible through freelancers with your work for Babble. It is not easy or cheap, I know, but you & Serge work hard and there's simply nothing more important than being around for your beautiful kids. The millions of people who need and cant AFFORD or get access to health insurance are another matter entirely. That is a travesty. One can only hope when the Obama plan goes into effect they will be taken care of. In the meantime YES you need to go to the dr for anything tick related that hasn't resolved and I think it's incredibly dangerous to try to diagnose yourself via the internet.

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterE.

ps: You'll be fine, so don't worry-Lyme Disease CAN be dealt with very well these days (which was not true a few years ago). Very likely you'll be put on the standard medication for it just to be safe. I live in Eastern LI where I think the most cases of it exist.

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterE.

I don't know a lot about ticks (sorry) but growing up on a farm, our no fail tool on getting ticks off our animals and ourselves was nail polish remover. We would put it on a tissue and the little thing would let go and back out immediately. I think if you are nervous you should go to the dr. You need peace of mind-I would be up all night worrying!

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSarahCurlyHead

Get it checked out for peace of mind..it'll be worth the price trust. I am fair..blonde hair..blue eyes..much like you..sensitive skin..spider bit me a couple years ago..small red spot on the back of my arm looks JUST LIKE yours..went to the derm..turns out sometimes insect bites leave permanent marks..take heart..you're fine I'm sure..but get some peace and have a Merry Christmas :)

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

I got bit by a tick when I was twelve. It was on my back, under my bra line. It still looks similar to that picture. It swells up when I'm hot,overly emotional, or otherwise aggitated and then, my bra rubs it and irritates it even more. I've been tested for Lymes multiiple times (all negative). I'm currently 29. Not sure if my point is its fine, or my skin is weird, but I wouldn't waste a trip and the $ to go to the doctor unless you have other symptoms or its painful and doesn't start getting better soon. .

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBridgitt

@E - Thanks for your stellar insight into my personal finances and health care situation.

December 20, 2011 | Registered CommenterMonicaBielanko

whoa! I'm never going in the woods again! LOL!

If the kids have insurance, come up with an excuse to go in...maybe Henry's bite. "Hey, while we're here..."
Pediatricians and GPs are so good about multitasking visits.

Holy crap! I've never been witness to people inventing shit to climb up into your business about. Like we all don't have shit we're putting off and wishing we could deal with. You think the IRS doesn't want that money I owe them?!

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commentershannon B.

Don't worry. First I would check with a neighborhood clinic and see if they can work a small payment out. Check with your local ER and ask if they have a 'charity care' arrangement which will allow for tiny payments. I understand your situaion ( I am in the same boat until I get working again). Anyway the clinics usually accept walk-in patients and deal with non-insured. If you are dealing with an infection/ small absess it could have a speck of the bugger in you which your body has walled off. As someone mentioned before it may be working it's way out in which case warm moist compresses and a drawing sallve could be helpful. If there is a small absess, it is best to encourage drainage and keep it clean while it heals from the inside out. You may also beneifit from oral antibiotics...Get the generic brand ( cheaper). Apply topical Neosporin and cover with dry sterile dressing and tape. I would be sure to check every inch of myself and my loved ones for tics or chiggers or what have you. I am sure you will be FINE. You have a good immune system. Drink lots of water and call a clinic. You will be FINE!!!

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commentergina

if course I have you and your family near the top of my prayer list! Not a stalker. a pralker.

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commentergina

I would check it out. There is a limited amount of time where you can actually treat Lyme Disease, but if that window closes you're stuck with that little bitch fo' life. Definitely check local clinics - some will help you work out payment plans.

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCate

Hi Monica,

In my opinion, which is made up of oodles of tick bites and extractions, BECAUSE you have the mark and consequent scab, you can be assured it is not a deer tick transmitting lyme's disease. Neosporin is good for lots of things, use a little on it to make sure it doesn't become infected and you'll be good to go.

PS- your children are too cute for words. Did you send out Christmas cards? Please post if you did!

December 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCMW

I had the same response a few months ago when I too found a tick attached to my arm. I freaked the fuck out!! Instantly started crying hysterically for my hubby to remove it. It was sore and red for awhile. But if the tick was not engorged the chances of lyme disease are minimal. I of course immediately thought I was going to die and googled every lyme rash and tick bite site you could like of. The red spot is gone and I can happily say that I 'think' I am lyme free.

Relax. You will be fine!!

December 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChris

I take your sarcasm, Monica but really...is any of that actually personal to you? You have published your most intimate experiences here on this blog (which I generally love by the way) for goodness sake! I was really mostly responding to Sarah (and people like her who don't seem to think you can handle the occasional critical comment, which of course is ridiculous when what you are often doing is being critical of others choices yourself.) actually threatens anyone who doesn't worship your every word. And as far as health insurance, that was a genuine suggestion regarding Freelancers from someone who pays out of pocket for their own health insurance--it's a bitch let me tell you (I pay over 600 bucks a month for COBRA after having lost my job three years ago), but I do think it's among my first responsibilities, and I dont even have kids yet (again, I understand your kids have insurance and that's great & most important I understand, but if god forbid you &/or serge would up in the hospital everything you've worked so hard for would be gone as you became a slave to paying off those obscene medical bills. If you're not interested in comments about that issue why do you keep posting about whether to go to the doctor without health insurance?! Really, I'm interested to know.

December 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterE.

@ E - I took issue with your comment because you imply that I pay for a bunch of frivolous bullshit while neglecting to purchase health care when that isn't the case.

I bought a cheap couch on sale. My landlord pays for all upgrades to this house, which, basically we rip out carpet and tear down wallpaper (free) and paint. Vacations? I posted about a vacation as a 2012 pipe dream type goal because I haven't gone on one since 2007.

I realize comments are for your two cents but I found your comment filled with incorrect assumptions. I also very much appreciated Sarah's comment because while I am certainly capable of taking care of myself, it's nice to get a little support like that.

I have posted twice about whether or not to go to the doctor, once to prove a point to my husband and this time because I really was bothered by this bite and wondered if I'd get an overwhelming response of get your ass to the doctor. That's all. I wasn't exactly soliciting your opinion on how you feel about my health care situation but also realize that's the nature of comments on blogs. Nonetheless, your comment, which you have every right to make, offended me and I replied. Simple as that.

December 21, 2011 | Registered CommenterMonicaBielanko

You had a great job that you quit to live in a rural area so that you and your husband could be stay at home parents that write. Your situation is different than most American...you had insurance and gave it up. You made a choice based on your own desires. It wasn't made for you. Own your decision and don't try to lump yourself with the majority of Americans that don't have insurance because they have lost their job or work at jobs that don't offer plans. There is nothing more infuriating than someone not owning their own life choices.

You and Sweetney can bemoan the internet and how horrible it is. However, you CHOOSE to make your living writing about your life. You post the pictures of your family, published your last names and invited us to every intimate moment of your life. Did you think it was going to be an endless stream of comments talking about how wonderful you are? You made your life a reality show and it is natural that comments are going to veer to your life choices. What else do you have? Amazing prose that you write with stream of consciousness and then hit SEND so it is there for the masses? Sooner or later the masses are going to start attacking your decisions.

You could have been anonymous. You could have written and NEVER published a photo or identified yourself. You choose it. If you want to make your living by being a public figure, this is what comes with it. However, if you want to publish a picture of your tick bite and have the internet diagnose your ailment, get ready to take the heat. And stop complaining about how hard it is to be real. It only insults the working stiffs of the world that are trying to get by and don't have the options that you so freely take for granted.

December 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterE. is right

I see. For the record I didn't assume anything--I gave you a list of things you have written about here recently which I don't actually consider "frivolous bullshit" at all, just not quite AS important as your own overall well-being. And those things are amongst what you've evidently chosen to buy or do or plan or think about
before actually getting yourselves health insurance. Believe it or not it is out of genuine concern borne of a many year readership that I (& I suspect others) are so adamant about you taking care of it for the reasons
I mentioned before.
Just out of curiosity, do you think you are ever at all hypocritical or judgmental here on this blog or in your public writing elsewhere? Not that you asked (again) but I think when you become sarcastic and generally bitchy it really"offends" people like me who generally read and enjoy your blog, click in support when you ask us to (which is presumably making you $) and at the same time don't feel we have to agree with everything you say. And honestly it's "weird" to me that you don't seem to think people can bring up anything besides exactly, literally what you ask for a response to without garnering such a sarcastic sometimes even nasty reply given all the EXTREMELY personal stuff you have made the bread and butter of this blog for years when we are often reading and responding to your own critical writing about others choices. I generally admire and respect you Monica. I think you're a good writer; often quite brave and usually self-reflective, obviously an incredibly hard worker and a wonderful mom. I just don't always like what or how you say things here, how you respond to criticism ( the latter of which I grant you is a tough pill to take).

December 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterE.

@E is Right - What does Sweetney have to do with anything? I'm insulting the "working stiffs"? I AM a working stiff. What, you think I lounge around my house all day watching reality TV? Because I work from home doesn't mean I don't work. I am up in my office/attic at 6am and generally don't get downstairs until noon and then I'm back up here in the evening finishing up stuff as well. And just because I chose to write on the internet for a living doesn't mean I can't respond to people who offend me. Do you go to your job and just take shit from people all day without replying? Why not? You decided to go out in public and talk to people! Bottom line: if what someone says bothers me, I'll respond. I'm sick of the idea that because bloggers choose to write publicly they somehow have to either sit quietly and take shit from strangers like yourself or get called "bitchy" and "defensive" when choosing to reply to someone who has said something offensive. I figure over the years I've chosen not to comment to hundreds of rude people leaving comments on this blog. This time I took a notion to reply.

December 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterThe Girl Who

@E - Of course I'm hypocritical and judgmental. Isn't everyone at some point? We're only human. But I learn more every day, especially through people commenting on this blog and sharing their own stories. You don't have to agree with everything I say. I'm not an authority on jack shit so this blog is filled with people disagreeing with stuff I say and that's totally cool. In fact, that's one of the cool things about blogging. I can type something and immediately get a hundred different perspectives that always make me stop and think. But, like I said, your comment offended me and I responded. I don't think my tone was any more "bitchy" than your original comment talking about my "obvious disconnect" with all my fancy remodeling, "vacations" and new couch and lack of health insurance. I'm not sure how you could make that comment and think it wasn't judgmental or bitchy and then be surprised and "offended" when I was sarcastic in return.

You're right. You can comment about whatever you like regardless of whether I solicited your opinion or not. That's what comments are for and that is a price I pay for publicly writing about my life.

You offended me, I offended you. Guess we're even?

December 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterThe Girl Who

If you say so. I personally have no interest in getting "even" with you or anyone else. I think you're mistaken in how you responded to my comments which while critical were not at all sarcastic or snide. There's a difference..I am sorry that I offended you. My intent was to impress the importance of having health insurance which seemed not to be a priority to you based on what you'd written here before. Again, YOU made all sorts of characterizations; called the things I listed frivolous bullshit, your remodeling "fancy" etc.- but the fact is I genuinely think you're entitled to do buy and have whatever you want in life. If however you write rather intensely seeking advice about whether you or your husband should spend the $ to go to the dr when you fear pneumonia or lyme disease or whatever else without insurance I as your reader am going to tell you I think there's an obvious disconnect. I don't believe you really think you're dying as you titled your post, but I'll say it again, imagine if god forbid you did have that concern.I have family and friends who do. It doesn't take much to bankrupt a middle class family when it comes to the healthcare system. It's scary and I look at your beautiful family that I know you've worked very hard (not just financially) to create and protect and I think I am being utterly sincere and well-intentioned in telling you what I have. If this were the real world and you shared with me everything you had on this blog, I'd tell you the exact same thing and think myself a lousy friend if I didn't.
To the point of the person who wrote agreeing with me, you do seem to want to include yourself amongst the millions of people who cannot afford or gain access to health insurance-- but he/she is correct that if you chose to quit an executive job where you HAD health insurance to write full time without it you don't really count as a member of that group. Lastly, you seem to miss all the compliments I've given you which actually outweigh the one fundamental criticism I made--I wonder why that is. I wish you peace and health and happiness. Truly.

December 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterE.

As far as the tick goes: My dad has a spot on his arm just like that from a tick 40-plus years ago. And he's as healthy as that proverbial horse everyone's always talking about. So, anecdotally, based on something I know nothing about, I'm guessing you'll be just fine. Except for the thing about how you live in a part of the country that's ridden with ticks. That will probably take some time to get over.

As for the commenting thread, I'm also a longtime reader. And someone who writes for a living. And your defensiveness regarding any, ANY criticism is off the hook, and not in a good way. I've written things that have offended people, usually unintentionally so (it's always the offhand, semi-frivolous things that seem to draw people's ire—I'm sure you can relate), and have been vilified for it. Trust me: the Babble thread is child's play compared to what can happen when people really have it in for something you've said. It seems that while you're well aware of the fact that you have a voice and you seem to make some pretty clear decisions about how you use it (which I respect), you're also strangely unaware of the fact that using that voice can come with consequences, namely criticism. Time and again, I've seen you attack people simply for not agreeing with you. Time and again, I've seen you poll your readership, only to become aggressive when they don't offer up the "right" answer. I'm guessing that the way you conduct your personal life is not the same as the way you conduct your online life (although one of your great charms is your authenticity), but if it is, I ain't surprised about the shovel vs. car incident. As rough as it may be at times to live with Serge, it's got to be difficult for him to live with someone who wants to dish it but clearly cannot take it. So, I guess this is the part where you attack me now, sum everything I've said up into some snarky-yet-pithy misrepresentation of everything in my comment by way of "learning" from what I've said. It's cool. I've earned as much. And I like to think I can take it just as well as I dish it.

December 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterR

That picture made me want to kill myself in a bath of boiling hot water.

December 27, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercharity

Anything come of this? Or did the tick bite eventually just go away?

August 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

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