A blog about living outside, first in my car, then in tents.
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My 3rd Monsoons: Kissing Bugs, Ticks and Pack Rats oh my!

Where pack rats go, so go bugs that bite and suck around the nose and mouth – or anywhere – at night. Big nasty kissing bugs.

I found one IN my bed when I shook out my blanket this week. I killed it. It was so full of bright red blood (human? canine?) that it’s probably permanently stained the piece of clothing I killed it with.

The day before I found a tick crawling up the tent wall. The wall against which my cot is pushed. One foot above the mattress.

Dwyn was sporting a cozy collection of four small ticks on his forehead, all huddled together. I’ve pulled out ticks swollen beyond belief from both dogs’ cheeks. Those are the grossest to kill; I learned that the hard when when I crushed one, causing it to pop…. TMI. Ugh. But when they’re still small and skinny it’s harder to crush them, even with a thumbnail across their back.

This very wet summer is sporting the usual invisible chiggers threat. I have matching itchy bumps, in the same spot just outside both armpits. And one on the upper thigh that’s tricked me in to itching it far too many times, causing it to swell and itch more. But I don’t have as many or as bad chigger bites as past summers, knock on (mesquite) wood.

As for the pack rats. I’m in a large tent now, with an inner room for sleeping. I also have a plywood desk set up on metal filing cabinets. On the opposite side of the desk I have several items stored, a cabinet that I try to keep sealed, and lots of covered open spaces. In other words, pack rat heaven.

Last night I awoke to the sound of gnawing somewhere around the desk. Saw, saw, grind, grind. I eventually got up and the light ended the pack rat’s fun. Other times I’ve knocked a flashlight or something against wood or metal to startle them into stopping; sometimes that works.

A few weeks ago I heard another persistent, determined ongoing gnawing. The rat had been grinding down a plastic floor knob on a nylon travel bag. It had left bits of plastic scattered about the back of my desk.

Plastic? I welcome your theories as to why a pack rat would “eat” plastic. Maybe pack rats get neurotic, too. Or develop addictions to strange substances when living too close to humans. lol Go figure.

I also have what I assume is a dead pack rat rotting in the car’s air conditioner system. I figured out how to pull out the glove compartment and other parts below the passenger-side dashboard to try to get at it. But I couldn’t remove the cylindrical fan and motor — which is where a friend retrieved a rat from the last time this happened. So I don’t use my a/c and air out the car during dry spells in between rain storms.

I’m feeling worse this summer than previous monsoons; in general my health continues to deteriorate, especially during wet weather. We’ve ruled out MS and are back to the list of chronic conditions that doctors usually don’t acknowledge, plus the mental health diagnosis that explains a lot but not everything. Which I’ve kept mostly secret, despite it being a contributor to the compulsive spending that got me in to this mess.

The monsoons started early, after a beautiful long spring. Let’s hope fall’s beautiful dry weather arrives early.

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  1. Ticks can cause lyme disease in humans. A disease that can stay with you. Fatigue is one of the symptoms. I healed my ilness with the gerson therapy.
    Sending u healing hugs

    • My doctor refused to order a Lyme Disease test because we don’t have it where I now live in the southeast — even though I spent most of my life in areas with active Lyme Disease, including when the fatigue hit. Now that we’ve ruled out MS maybe I should press the doc for this test. Thanks for the reminder!

  2. My mother has Fibromyalgia and is affected by the weather conditions. I know the symptoms will vary among individuals and can be worse at certain times of day.

    I hope you feel better! And thank you for sharing your story!

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