My fear of spiders and the lengths I will go to kill them from a preferably long distance are legendary. I don’t mind snakes, in fact I like them. Bugs are fine, as long as it’s not head lice, the only other thing besides spiders that would make me burn down my house. But spiders? Complete and utter panic.
So you can imagine my
unremitting fury chagrin a couple of weeks ago when one of the little bastards them apparently bit me. It was the Thursday before Labor Day. I had spent the morning out and about running errands and was sitting outside with our dog, Cooper. The top of my right foot began itching..and not just a little itching, but bone deep, “what fresh hell is this” itching. Looking down at my foot, there wasn’t a mark on it. No bite mark, no redness..nothing. I scratched like a crazy person and figured that I had brushed up against nettles or something in my travels with the dog and didn’t think much more about it. Until about 10 seconds later, that is, when the itching went from “Huh, this sucks” to “OMG CUT IT OFF”.
I washed my foot off really well with Dawn, in case I had brushed up against poison ivy or the like and doused my foot in hydrocortisone cream. Within another few minutes, my foot started to swell. In an hour, I had pins and needles running up and down my foot up to about mid-shin. Still not a mark of any kind or red spot indicating that I’d been bit. I woke up that night feeling sick. Really sick. Chills, cold sweat, nauseated as all get out. And my foot..my poor foot looked like it belonged to Fred Flintstone..no veins, tendons or bones visible..straight up kankle. I was having a reaction to something, but what?
Friday morning saw me still pretty ill…and not in a Beastie Boys fun kind of way. I drove Madeline to school and called my GP’s office. Guess what? No Friday office hours, off to Walk-In Care on Union Street. The provider was a lovely little woman who said, “Oooooh, you got bit by something alright”. Yeah, but no idea what and not a mark on my foot still. She told me to treat it as I had been, antihistamines, soaking in Epsom Salts and keeping it elevated…come back (on a holiday weekend when my own GP’s office would once again be closed on Monday) if it gets worse.
It got worse. By now I was fully suspecting a spider and started Googling spider bites. Don’t ever, ever Google spider bites. I had myself convinced it was a brown recluse and I had mere days before my foot rotted off. By Saturday night, it wasn’t any better, in fact it looked worse and hurt to walk on. It was bright red and hot to the touch..and the beginnings, FINALLY, of a dark red spot could be seen on the top right side of my foot where whatever kind of demon-spider it was got me.
Sunday morning, I headed back to Walk-In with a sense of urgency. Mark was leaving town the next day for a week and would have little to no cellphone reception or wifi..basically unreachable in case of emergencies, and there I was..swelling, red and OMG THE ITCHING. I’ve never experienced anything like it in my life, including blackfly bites. This time I saw a provider who took one look at my foot and said it was heading towards cellulitis, which is NOT what you want if you can avoid it..people end up in the hospital on IV antibiotics with septicemia. He told me to NOT SCRATCH, no matter what, put me on antibiotics and steroids and sent me back on my merry, limping way.
Long story short, two weeks later, it still itches at times, although the swelling finally got beaten down by the steroids. I had odd ping pong ball sized lumps surface and disappear on the top of my foot and above my ankle for several days that were rock hard and hot. I may never know what kind of spider it was, or if I’m just susceptible to spider venom of any kind. I’ll never take ankle bones for granted again.
And a cool note, even the Prednisone didn’t conquer the itching that this caused, and one night I was up at 2:30 am scouring the internet for anything that I could try to make the bone deep itching stop. I stumbled across this post by Mark D. Roberts and even though he was treating fire ant bites, I was desperate and willing to try anything that would keep me from IV antibiotics and let me get a little sleep. You guys..IT WORKED. I used hot water as opposed to a hair dryer, and if you can bull past that first few seconds of agonizing itch when the super hot water hits your skin, it really is miraculous. I kept my foot under the hot water for about 5 minutes and by the time I patted it dry with a towel there was no itch, NONE and it lasted for about 5 hours at a time. This is the only thing that got me through without scratching and ending up with a more serious case of cellulitis.
Now, I know that there are those of you out there who say that spiders are our friends, that they eat other bugs, etc…and that’s all nice and good. But I’m taking down every last one that I see. Preferably with fire.