Millennial Survival in Toronto by E.V. Hutcheon – Stress of Growing Up Quickly APRIL 24, 2017


Toronto Ontario – Life can get pretty hectic sometimes and the older you get the less time you seem to have.

Some weeks can be a breeze and others can be incredibly stressful. Between worrying if you have eaten too much or not enough – or to; did you reach your deadlines on time? Do you ever feel like maybe you are in a rut or that maybe time is passing by just a little too quickly? Maybe it’s not passing fast enough? You stare at the clock barely ticking off the minutes as you slave away, trying to make ends meat for your family.

Sometimes something as basic as making money while trying to keep your head above water isn’t always as easy as it sounds. You spend so much of your time trying to keep track of all your hundreds of mini tasks that you have to get done throughout the day, while still accomplishing all your other larger tasks.

If that doesn’t stress you out yet then good because you will still have all your other personal tasks that need to get completed before you shut out the lights and go to sleep for the night. If you are someone like me who has to support herself and her pets on a low income job while still trying to keep up with the demands of other people, then you can relate to how little social life and freedom you seem to have every day.

Most days I just have to remind myself how lucky I actually am to live in Toronto and other days, I’m just happy to be reunited with my soft and loving bed. Recently I’ve only been able to tell the passing of days by the hours of sleep I’ve usually missed while trying to accomplish everything.

This past week, while trying to pick up more shifts and hours in order to make more money, I also had the delightful pleasure of plucking a deer tick off my smallest dog, Lady. I don’t know about any of you, but I have a giant fear of flesh burrowing insects. As a small child I watched the movie the Mummy and it scared me to the point that all reason goes out the window once faced with these terrifying insects.

Lady is an American cocker spaniel so to find a tick you actually have to run your fingers strategically through her long double coat of fur. I was on my way to walk Bo, the biggest of the three dogs (a male boxer) when I got distracted with petting Lady; as I ran my fingers gently through the long ginger hair on her back, I caught my nail on a lump. I wondered what it was at first, as I peeled back her hair, could it be a mole?

My elder dog Sha Sha, had had them all over his body as he got older but surely it was unusual for a dog just over a year to be getting warts at such young an age, I figured. As I got closer to her skin I saw it. This big, white, abdomen with its little pincher legs that were clasped to chunks of her hair. I bit my tongue in order to hold down a scream.

That five year old girl in me, started to cry and beg for a parental figure to help her but the grown up in me wouldn’t beg for anybody’s help.

My first plan of action was to take her to the vet on Jane near my house, too bad it was Easter Monday and all vets were closed. I knew if I waited a day to get the tick out it would only get that much worse. Instead I pulled up my big girl socks and got the tick out all on my own.
I heated up my metal tweezers with my lighter and looked at the tick that was now carving its head into my dogs flesh, out loud I said to the deer tick, “you picked the wrong dog, ass butt” and swallowing my fear I extracted the tick with as much delicacy as a drunk bull in a china shop. What I learned quickly is that, you should never extract a tick with shaking hands, since in doing so I managed to get the tiny parasite off my dog in multiple small pieces.

The entirety of the experience made me think back to about three years ago, when I went to the cottage with a girlfriend and our parents just a day after getting my wings tattooed on my ankles. In the bathroom of my cottage with my best friend Tash, who eagerly awaited the unveiling of my new tattoos, as I stripped away at the bandages on my ankles; the whole time my one ankle itching something fierce, at the time I assumed it was because of the tape which usually caused my skin to itch and become irritated.

That however was not the case. The bandages now gone, I glimpsed down and noticed something I didn’t expect to see; a little black dot, not a deer tick but a tick none the less. At the time I remember freaking out a lot more and eventually pulling the thing off me, still alive, with a metal hair clip. The difference between that time and this however is that at time, it was on me and the tick didn’t carry any trace of lime disease. Deer ticks are most commonly known for carrying lime disease and can infect the animal, causing fever and paralysis if left on the animal for over 24 hours. Lime disease can also take up to 7 days to start showing signs or symptoms.

Once I got the tick out, Lady seemed totally unbothered by it for the rest of the night and unaffected and the next morning by the time I left for work. It was only I, who seemed to still be shaken up and uncontrollably itchy for the next day and a bit. That night I was supposed to meet up with my mom and go to her place for dinner but what I wanted more than anything was a drink, so we went to Milestones on the Queensway for the Mexican celebration.

They had delicious margaritas and I would have to say the black berry was the best flavour, followed by the cucumber lime.

The waiter offered us on a lime topped with cooked crickets and we crazily accepted. When these crickets came, all I could think about was the tick but I tried to brush that off and be adventurous so I tried one anyway. I popped it into my mouth where it rolled around on my tongue until I started to crunch down on it with my teeth. It was burnt and really only tasted of cardboard, burnt cardboard. Let me tell you, that the whole time I was eating it, my brain was envisioning it as me eating the deer tick and as I swallowed the scratchy bits of cricket, I had to force it to stay down.

Okay, it’s in my stomach, now I’ve tried that… it was gross but now it’s done, I’m good right? Wrong. There’s a wire that’s permanently glued in behind my top and lower jaw, in order to keep my teeth aligned after I got my braces off at the end of high school and now I had a damn piece of cricket leg hooked up underneath the wire, so far I couldn’t get it out with all the muscle in my tongue. I finally had to go home and brush my teeth before I eventually got it out.

The next Monday I had to work and while I was anxious about leaving the dog after all the excitement from the previous day, I knew that wasn’t an excuse to call in. I checked her bite and attempted to put tea tree oil on it, which for any ever debating doing this, you can do it but make sure its heavily diluted with water first. I missed the wound and instead lathered her fur in it so I used Bactine after. It wasn’t until I got back from work that I noticed something severely wrong with my baby. She wasn’t moving and every time I tried to get her to stand, her legs gave out and she had thrown up trough out the day More panic. I called the vet and I made an appointment, then I called my dad so I could get there with her.

The vet said if it was probably just weakness and she took the treats they give her withy absolutely no complaint. They also said if it continued it might actually be a neurological issue and with more exams and tests she might need to prescribe steroids (and more money). They gave her a pill called Bravecto for anymore run-ins with ticks. It’s basically a large dog treat that poisonous to ticks and can prevent tick infestations on a dog. After the vet I still wasn’t feeling very reassured and I decided just t to make sure she didn’t have any more creepy crawlies roaming around on her with my own eyes. I shaved her down with dog scissors and the amount of hair that came off of her; I swear I could have made a super soft rug with all that hair. Lady now looks like she has Dr Zeus stair cases running all along her back but she is tick free and the shave seemed to help perk her spirits up again, mine on the other hand not so much.

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By that Tuesday she was fine, like nothing had ever happened. Me, I felt warn out and emotionally drained. Terrified something still might be wrong with her, I spent most of the bus ride to work hoping for the day to pass quickly so I could get back to her as soon as possible.

Work was had its own issues; on Tuesday everyone seemed on edge about something. My friend V, even screamed out she would become a stripper because this wasn’t worth it anymore. Ironically it came out more comical than anything else but I kind of got how she felt and it got me thinking about that quote about the grass always greener on the other side, maybe that seems to be the case because when you peer into the lives of others you are seeing a distorted image of their real lives and often people only show others what they want them to see.

So maybe the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, maybe that’s just a casual way of saying you want what you can’t have. I want more time when I get less and often I want less time when I get more, so is anyone truly happy with what they have in life? Most of us have never taken the time to stop and just live in the moment and just enjoy what we have and all the endless possibilities.

I thought back to Lady and her reaction to the whole deer tick incident; the whole time she was care free and happy go lucky, I’m not even sure if she realised she’d been bitten. Even if she had, I doubt to her it would have been a big deal, something that she would have never ended up stressing over because at the end of it all she still would have had the rest her day to go off and play. So than why did I waste so much time stressing over it? My dog doesn’t have lime disease, so why was I still feeling so anxious?

I left work after my shift feeing very pessimistic and withdrawn. I really didn’t want to see anyone, so I cancelled my plans with Nikki G and went home instead. At this point I had written off my day and was preparing to hide out in my room when the Ginger showed up in his white, mechanical steed, with a beautiful bouquet of warm coloured spring flowers and chocolate. The best part though was his smile, I saw that and my stresses of the last few days seemed to dissolve into thin air and I felt like I could breathe again if only momentarily.

I could hear Ferris Bueller in my head saying,

Life moves pretty fast sometimes. If you don’t stop to look around once in a while, you might miss it”

I currently have that on my coffee mug back at home as a reminder that even on the worst of days you should always stop look around at everything you have and be grateful no matter how small or great whatever it is might be.

Born and raised in Toronto, E. V. Hutcheon studied journalism at St Lawrence College in Cornwall Ontario. She currently lives in Toronto with her family, three dogs and a rabbit, near the Humber River.

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